Trump Style Negotiation

by F.

I shy away from anything that says “Trump” on it, and would be more embarrassed to be caught buying Trump Style Negotiation than Barely Legal School Girls #2. Fortunately, I didn’t get caught. And I discovered that this book is really, really good.

It pretty much contains all the lessons I have learned about negotiating deals—which is what you would expect, since there isn’t that much to negotiating, but there are a small number of key skills you have to have. I don’t have “50 years experience,” as the author says he does. But I’ve done my fair share. I haven’t found a better negotiation book.

This book reads like the author actually has negotiated in the business world rather than merely in the classroom. All this “Getting to Yes” stuff just doesn’t translate very well into the real world, in my experience. It’s too theoretical. And it’s odd that a lot of the “master” negotiators are actually not business people but diplomats or politicians. They’ve been working on, say, the Middle-East “peace process” or whatever. That’s not what most people encounter when negotiating on a house or a car or another sort of deal.

Here are some nuggets from the book:

  • Know what you want
  • Know what the other party wants—and what they’ll settle for
  • Everything you do is a signal—arriving late to a meeting, suggesting you stop early, falling asleep at the negotiating table, and so on
  • Because everything is a signal, make sure you send the signals you want to
  • You need to trust each other—but only enough to make a deal that you can both live with after you close
  • Make the other side feel special—with “special” concessions or whatever (these can be illusory, as long as you don’t get caught)
  • Know what everyone’s role is around the table
  • Trust your opponent but verify what they say, too
  • If you’re blocked, defer the issue—“Let’s talk about this later.” Then do an easy issue
  • Split the difference only when you would have accepted that amount or position all along
  • Be organized and keep track of issues and positions. (I usually use a matrix or issue chart.)
  • Debrief after each session. Figure out what went well and what went wrong, how close you are to your goal, and any information you need before the next session
  • Control the speed of the negotiation by setting arbitrary deadlines
  • Don’t let the other party know your deadlines (if you have any)
  • To slow things down, ask for a big concession. Later, you can take that ask off the table. But it will stall things.
  • Expect changes up to the last minute. This always happens. It’s only a deal when both parties have signed. Much of the activity takes place at the end of the deal
  • Play tit-for-tat. Be nice, but if the other side are assholes, retaliate as hard as you can
  • Be patient
  • Don’t feel you always have to talk. Sometimes you can just say nothing and let the other side punch themselves out
  • Start high and expect the other side to do the same
  • Begrudge every concession, but make them to create good will. “Oh, all right, we can call the first section definitions rather than terms.”
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