Book Notes: Getting More

Getting More:  How to Negotiate in the Real World to Achieve Your Goals, by Stuart Diamond

[Disclaimer:  This is not meant to be a book summary or book review. This is just stuff in the book that I found personally valuable or interesting at the time of reading. Most of these “notes” are actually highlights, i.e. directly copied lines from the book, but some notes are personal adaptations or added personal insights.]

The 12 Major Strategies:

1)  Goals are paramount.  Anything you do in a negotiation should explicitly bring you closer to your goals for that particular negotiation.

2)  It’s about them.  You can’t persuade people of anything unless you know the pictures in their heads:  their perceptions, feelings, needs, etc.  You must do role reversal – if you were looking at yourself from their perspective, how could you alter yourself to better connect emotionally?  You are not trying to impose power to make people do things, are trying to establish connection to make them want to do things.

3)  Make emotional payments.  You need to tap into the other person’s emotional psyche with empathy, apologies if necessary, kind expressions – ultimately you need to show that you value them.  You are giving in, somewhat, to their emotional needs rather than giving into their material/situational needs.

4)  Every situation is different.  In negotiation, there is no one-size-fits-all.  There are too many differences among people and situations to be too rigid in your thinking.  Use your best judgment and evaluate what approach is best for that particularly situation.

5)  Incremental is (usually) best.  Negotiation failure often occurs because people ask for too much all at once.  When there’s little trust or a lack of clarity, it’s even more important to be incremental.  Lead people from the pictures in their heads to your goals, from the familiar to the unfamiliar, one step at a time.

6)  Trade things of Unequal Value.  First, find out what each party cares about, big and small, tangible and intangible, rational and emotional.  Then concede items which you don’t really value (or need to possess) and that the other party does value, or thinks that you highly value.  For instance, trade purchase terms for lower purchase price – give the impression that terms are important, like dates, and then give in on that point to gain on the price end.  This trade-off can also be dealt in emotions (without explicitly stating it) – offer a calm demeanor (be calm) to gain their attention (to get them to listen)…you getting to be un-calm is of less importance to you than their active listening.

7)  Find their standards.  Clarify their bases – go over their policies, precedents, past statements, methods of decision making, and do so in a calm & kind manner.  “Isn’t outstanding customer service something you’ve established for your business?” “Have you ever made exceptions for the sake of customer service?”  Don’t be rude, condescending, or whiny when you bring up standards – be sincere, and try to emphasize your appreciation of those standards rather than belittle their current behavior…”I’m just a really big believer in good customer service – I really love that about your company” is much more effective than “I can’t believe your current lack of customer service – obviously you don’t actually find customer service to be important.”

8) Be transparent and constructive, not manipulative.  Be yourself.  Don’t try to be tougher, nicer, or something you’re not in a negotiation – people detect fakers and go against them, even if they’re right.  You can work on your optimal disposition before and after a negotiation, but it’s best not to modify it during.  Being real is highly credible, and credibility is your biggest asset.

9)  Frame the vision.  Promote shared interest.  Blaming or threatening in any way results in defensiveness, not in mind-changing.  State the obvious if you’re at a stand-still.  Package what’s going on in a few obvious words and lightly say, “We don’t seem to be getting along in this instance” or “It seems these unusual circumstances are getting in the way”.  If you state the obvious in a kind manner, it lessens the tension, and it will be offering a point of agreement.  Then, offer them a vision of where you want them to go, “Isn’t it our mutual goal to form and maintain business relationships?” or “People need us to come together on this, right?”  Or, specific framing: “This is what the outcome looks like to me:  you decide this is an occasion that warrants an exception for the sake of customer service, I’ll appreciate it more than you know, and then I spread the word to everyone I can.”  (Never do the opposite and threaten to tell others about their bad business behavior.)

10)  Find the real problem and make it an opportunity.  To find the real problem, you have to find out why the other party is acting the way they are.  What is a personal circumstance that is preventing them from being open and reasonable?  Maybe it’s a child’s bad behavior and subsequent lack of sleep?  This could be an opportunity to connect and build a better relationship.  View problems as possibilities to reconnect.

11)  Embrace differences.  Great negotiators love differences.  Differences can be more creative, more profitable.  If you’re open to them, they can lead to more perceptions, more ideas, more options, and better results.  Ask questions – show genuine curiosity about their differences.

12)  Prepare.  Make a list of points.  Practice conveying those points in an effective manner.  Anticipate emotions, yours and theirs.  Anticipate resistance and specific rebuttals.  Visualize yourself being calm and focused.

Important General Notes:

Understanding others’ perceptions is essential to successful negotiation.

– If you show you care about their feelings, they will listen more and thus be more persuadable.

– Goals are the end-all-be-all of negotiations. You negotiate to meet your goals.  Determine if your goal in that situation is more important than a relationship, and if it is, don’t go out of your way to cater to their feelings or needs unless your intention is to bring you closer to your goals.  (BUT, don’t cling to the ending and hyper-focus on your goal.  That is, remain unemotionally focused on the process of attaining your goal, not emotionally passionate about the outcome.)

– If you are confrontational, expect about 25% of what’s possible.

– The most important asset you have in any human interaction is your credibility (which establishes trust).  Your credibility is more important than your expertise, connections, intelligence, assets, and looks.

– Be yourself better.  People don’t expect you to be perfect, they expect you to be real.

– Find a common bond with other people, even if it’s a mutual “enemy”.

– Understand the pictures in their heads (their perceptions) – the ultimate key to negotiations.  Understand that your facts, when presented to people with different perceptions, aren’t relevant.  Learn their perceptions by asking questions.  You can even ask, “What is your perception?” Learn and understand their perceptions before attempting to explain your perception.

  Good general concept:  about 80% of what you say in a negotiation should be a question

– Most emails come across more negative and aggressive than intended, so be careful.

Create trust.  This can be done in with simple follow-through:  say you’ll call them back in one minute, and call them back in one minute; say you’re going to use the restroom and you’ll be back in two minutes, and be back in two minutes.

– The more you practice framing situations, or referring to standards, the more you’ll be able to use these tools at a moment’s notice.

– Ask “How are you?” “How’s your day going?” And listen to their response!  Then connect as best as possible.  Even if introductory “small-talk” questions seem frivolous to the other person, they are not – the other person will unconsciously feel more connected to you if you take the time to do this.  Personal questions that are basic and general, and unrelated to the negotiation, always ease the tension of the other party, whether they realize it or not.  Even if you can’t really connect with them, it at least shows that you are not hasty in getting what you want out of them.

– Be candid about what you want, but don’t be overly assertive.  When the opportunity presents itself, calmly and kindly, and simply, state exactly what you want.  Be confident in your candidness and express it lightness, simplicity, and calmness, not arrogance and brashness. You can even frame your candidness:  “I want to be upfront here for the sake of the deal…” “It’s best for both of us if I’m candid…” “I really respect your time, so I’ll go ahead and clearly state my intention…”. It’s important you don’t be candid in a brash manner or timid manner.  Brashness will create defensiveness; timidity will create doubt.

Additional rules:  “The Absolutes”

Always be calm and kind.  Lower your intensity – lower your voice, slow your pace, and lighten up your tone.  Relax your body and breathe.  Pretend the interaction is being recorded and that you’re ultimately being judged by your level of calmness and kindness rather than the substance of your speech – pretend the negotiation is solely dependent upon your level calmness, as if whoever is most calm “wins”.  If you’re prepared and are confident in your reasonableness, you don’t have to focus nearly as much on the substance of your presentation as you do your style, and the style that sells best, especially in the long run, is a calm and kind one.  In a negotiation, when there’s actually something at stake, you will rarely get exactly what you want with an approach of un-calmness and un-kindness.  Even if you get lucky with the “harsh-intense” approach in the short term, it almost certainly will come back to bite you in the long term.

Never blindly cling to your goals.  At the very least, make sure you don’t show it.  The real key is to emotionally “un-cling” from a specific outcome.  If you feel intensely attached to the thought of attaining something, allow yourself to consciously detach during the negotiation – get in the mindset that your life doesn’t depend on one particular desired outcome.  If you can’t detach yourself from an intensely desired specific outcome, you will almost always become emotional at some point in a negotiation, which would be creating a direct obstacle for yourself in achieving that desired outcome.  You should carry yourself with genuinely kind coolness – not a brashness or arrogance or aloofness, but a sincere and considerate equanimity – as if the whole thing doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme (which it probably doesn’t), and as if you’ve already thought it through from all perspectives.  This doesn’t mean you need to consider changing your goal along the way, or lose sight of your goal.  You’re not giving in or giving up by detaching from your goal.  It simply means you don’t defend your goal with unbridled emotional conviction and thus lose your executive focus.  Know and understand your goal, but do not overly focus on a specific desired outcome when you’re dealing with people.  Instead focus on calmly engaging the process. For longer-term goals involving relationships, understand that focusing on the people and the process is the most effective approach for achieving your desired outcome.  Attitude for confidence:  think about the worst thing that could happen in a negotiation and know that your life could withstand it.