It is self-evident that people are neither fully rational nor completely selfish, and that their tastes are anything but stable.

  • Kahneman

pg. 15. Emotions and emotional intelligence would have to be central to effective negotiation, not things to be overcome.

pg 16. Tactical Empathy

pg 17. Negotiation serves two distinct, vital life functions -- information gathering and behavior influencing

Negotiation as you you'll learn here is nothing more than communication with results

  • Voss

ph. 46 Oprah Winfrey. My Thoughts. Brought into the story as her task is to persuade the person she's interviewing of talking to expose interesting thought, for the millions watching. Makes sense defining her as a negotiator if negotiation is defined as mostly information extraction.

pg.47 "A great negotiator aims to use her skills to reveal the surprises she is certain to find.

pg. 47 Don't commit to assumptions; instead, view them as hypotheses and use the negotiation to test them rigorously.

pg 47. Negotiation is not an act of battle; it's a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.

pg. 47. Positivity creates mental agility in both you and your counterpart. My Thoughts on "positivity creates mental..." Said another way, keep negative, and combative emotions out and more mental thought can be spent on productive thoughts.

My Thoughts. Accept I never will have a complete picture prior to the start of any conversation. More generally, my mental model now does not yet know many things and I should actively seek out where I might find novelty. Do not shy away from the unknowns which are too difficult to uncover. For I might be surprised to find I discover what was previously unknown knowns

pg 48. Mirrors work magic.

Do they work due to an affirmation affect?

pg 49. Until recently, most academics and researchers completely ignored the role of emotion in negotiation. "Separate the people from the problem" was the common refrain.

pg 50. Instead of denying or ignoring emotions, good negotiators identify and influence them.

pg. 50 Emotions are not the obstacles, they are the means.

They were subtracting away too much information from their model. Emotion is a determiner of other aspects which we care about during negotiation.

pg 49. Once people get upset at one another, rational thinking goes out the window

pg 51. Empathy defined "the ability to recognize the perspective of a counterpart, and the vocalization of that recognition.

So the first part is the receiving off the perspective, being receptive and attentive, hearing their perspective. The second is the physical representation of that. Usual back to the other person directly conversing with, in a visual or auditory fashion.

pg. 54 Labeling as used and defined during negotiations "spotting the counterparts feelings, turning them into words and calmly and respectfully repeating their emotions back to them.

pg. 55 Information from the other person's words, tone, and body language. We call that trinity "words, music, and dance"

Steps to label and highlight emotions

To repeat back the label, say it phrased as statements or questions, same structure, just different tone, either with a downward or upward reflection respectably.

  • "It seems like..."
  • "it sounds like..."
  • "It looks like..."

Key thing here is actually what the examples are lacking. They lack the word "I". As that puts a hard separation between you and the other person. Additionally, it puts you personally responsible for all the words that follow -- and potential offense from them.

Keep phrases neutral, but not vague, just neutral from their place of origin, but direct with their content.

Last rule is silence, giving the time for the thoughts to pass around in each others head.

Example story given is from direct calling to NFL ticket holders, (Washington Redskins) who were delinquent in their payments. Their script was a "stupidly aggressive, impersonal, tone-deaf style of communication that is default for most business." The part related to our interests from empathy, coming from how the script was all "me, me, me" from the NFL team's perspective. "No empathy. No connection. Just give me the money"

Changed verbiage, now "YOUR Washington Redskins", "the home-field advantage created by you...", "we understand our fans have been hit hard and we are here to work with you". "call ... back... with YOUR UNIQUE SITUATION"

Self-Evident that everyone wants to be acknowledge as unique. however small or large.

Labeling part two, how to know it works?

Use a label of the specific emotions followed by paraphrasing. In the statement, identify their own goals, dreams, and feelings. Try to provide a concise mental model related to the information of the conversation.

The responses are the feedback to either tell if it worked or not.

  • "that's right"

That or some longer variation of that is my positive indicator.

a summary to trigger a "that's right"

However, this signal is noisy and not always an accurate gauge, therefor its been recommended to increase confidence in it by redundancy.

  • Get the counterpart to reaffirm their agreement multiple times. With N >= 3
  • use calibrated questioning to increase the likelihood of this being a real, truthful signal of agreement, not a faux one.

How to respond to an attack against your empathy?

"We've given you a fair deal"

when the counterpart shifts focus to my supposed lack of understanding of fairness. With the large implication being that I'm not accurate in my knowledge of the world or the other parties situation. Basically its saying I'm not being empathetic, it you. Its not me, it's you.

Respond with "It seems like you're ready to provide the evidence that supports that". This is to make the other side to expose more information. Which will at the very least provide more data to work with previously than before, and at the best, provide contradiction of their claim.

pg. 72 These tools, then, are nothing less than emotional best practices that help you cure the pervasive ineptitude that marks our most critical conversations in life.

pg. 72 (Tactical empathy)..."doesn't mean that you agree with the other person. But by acknowledging the other person's situation, you immediately convey that you are listening.

pg. 73 Label your counterpart's fears to diffuse their power... the faster you interrupt action in your counterpart's amygdala, the part of the brain that generates fear, the faster you can generate feelings of safety, well-being, and trust.

Tools Gained

Most of the tools learned are definitions of some vague and fuzzy process I am doing now. Mostly oriented toward how to listen and how to ask brief question to enable yet more listening. Heres a quick rundown which I pulled out for them being potentially useful:

  • When to use an accusation audit. Obvious this should probably be before any accusations are thrown around!
  • Labeling of emotions and your display of them.
  • Reminders on things I take for granted.
  • Response to attacks that you are not being empathetic, not understanding. Not using the before aforementioned tools.
  • Calibrated Questions - Phrase structure which provides far more information returned than if not used.
  • The Ackerman model - one of the few negotiation specific tools

Calibrated Questions help to bring out the information

Simple technique of using words which, implicitly ask the party for help, give the illusion of control for the answerer, and most importantly inspire them to speak at length, revealing important information.

Use a "why" question followed by a statement which doesn't conform to their expectations. e.g. Highlighting all the things that are against your position. E.g. If I want change, and I say "Why would you ever change, it's great for what it does!"

Things to avoid, the what NOT to do:

  • Avoid the emotional charge when hearing answers which make you angry or don't conform to your prior expectations.
  • Avoid flat out accusations, such as asking "Why...(some variation of it not being my way!)" If I was to do this, it would force the counterpart to be on the defensive.

This has a bit of a game theory feeling. Its as though we don't take our counterpart for granted.

Does this make sense: I want to feel special. I seek signs of it out. Often ignoring more pertinent and opposing signals to my uniqueness, contrary to actually being special. Therefore I have learned over time most of my abilities are average. Since i'm average, and like most people, and I want to feel special, therefore everyone else simultaneously wants to feel special.

pg. 92. Example of figuring out how to not be ignored pg. 92 You provoke a response with a single sentence

  • "Have you given up on this project?"

Important aspects of any environment

  • Well defined success criteria. "What does it take to be successful here?". "What does success look like". And defining the inverse. "What forms would failure take"

Ackerman model (offer-counteroffer)

As how I would want to use it. However I'm not going to dive into the specifics of this, as I'm super skeptical of the granularity and arbitrarily given numbers. Instead this is more here as a reminder of the existence of this check list and the thought that there can be a sequence of steps which end up being be helpful. So the steps as I would want to remember them:

  1. Set my own internal target price. Requires thought into the true value I would give to something.
  2. Publicly state an offer below my actual price I am willing to pay, say at a ~35% discount. Or stated differently, at 65% of my target price. So if I'm willing to pay $100, I say actually state I'm willing to only pay $65. High level goal, is to provide an extreme anchor, ideally bringing the other side to their maximum amount of concessions they are willing to make.
  3. Calculate a couple of raises, aka concessions I'm willing to fallback on, in successively smaller increments E.g. first up to 80%, 90%, then finally 95%. Still less then I'm willing to pay, but signaling to the other side I'm giving up every last thing. But I don't become emotionally attached to their values. For if I was to get that price I would consider it still an unexpected win.
  4. Use whatever tools necessary to keep the conversation going while still saying No. The goal it to have the other side counter and bring down their estimate, prior to me having to concede even once.
  5. Land on an amount which has enough precision to provide credibility given the other parties assumed information. (tricks are to throw in a non-monetary item, or a non-round number)

pg. 211 When the pressure is on, you don't rise to the occasion; you fall to your highest level of preparation.

pg 218. We must let what we know, our known knowns guide us but not blind us to what we do not know; we must remain flexible and adaptable to any situation; we must always retain a beginner's mind; and we must never overvalue our experience or undervalue the informational and emotional realities served up moment by moment in whatever situation we face. pg 218. enhanced receptivity to the unknown unknowns can free that same negotiator to see and hear the things that can produce dramatic breakthroughs.

pg. 219 To uncover these unknowns, we must interrogate our world, must put out a call, and intensely listen to the response. Ask lots of questions. Read nonverbal clues and always voice your observations with your counterpart.

pg. 242. If this book accomplishes only one thing. I hope it gets you over that fear of conflict and encourages you to navigate it with empathy.

pg. 242 If you are an honest, decent person looking for a reasonable outcome, you can ignore the amygdala.

pg 242. One can only be an exceptional negotiator and a great person, by both listening and speaking clearly and empathetically; by treating counterparts and oneself with dignity and respect; and most of all by being honest about what one wants and what one can and cannot do. Every negotiation, every conversation, every momment of life, is a series of small conflicts, that manged well, can rise to creative beauty. Embrace them.

Matthew Clemens © 2022