Notes on Negotiation

Photo by Roland Samuel on Unsplash
Photo by Roland Samuel on Unsplash

The current inability of our elected representatives in Washington D.C. to reach agreements got me reflecting on a topic that many of us haven’t given much thought to–the process of negotiation.

Two of the best lectures I’ve ever listened to were delivered by Joel Peterson and Stan Christensen at Stanford as part of their Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series. The topic of them was negotiation and they completely changed the way that I not only think about that but about my everyday interactions in life.

I took notes on the lectures (here and here) and have shared some select ones below.

Joel Peterson (2006-05-02)

Negotiation is how you navigate your way through life. It is a series of conversations.

A successful negotiation is to have successful, effective conversations with people to get what you want and to help them get what they want at a price that is acceptable to both.

Establish your emotional baseline.

Say what you mean.

Negotiations are all serial. They are not episodic. Your reputation follows you around.

Trust is a function of character, competence, and empowerment.

Getting somebody to lose is not a win for you.

Look at how you can help the other party win (at a price that works for you too).

Think beyond what people are asking to what they really want.

Make deposits (be nice to them, help them out) when you don’t have to negotiate. That will help you when you negotiate later.

It is VERY difficult to rebuild trust.

Everybody has something to teach you.

Stan Christensen (2007-10-31)

Almost all negotiations in life repeat (you see the person more often than once) yet most people negotiate as if it is a one time deal.

Figure out how to expand the pie as opposed to just dividing up the pie.

It is important to base your agreement on things that are objective not just what one party wants or another party wants.

Never lie and there are no exceptions.

It is much easier to find out what you can do and what you can change than what they can do better and they can change.

Give them extra. There are always opportunities in negotiations to make it a little bit better for the other side. People are surprised and reciprocate.

You can make it better for them without making it worse for you.