Manage Your Practice

Obama and the Teachable Moment on Negotiation

July 20, 2015

Peace for our time!

Oh, that’s the wrong “leader.” Sorry, it’s verification for our time.

All criticism aside, Obama did teach us a valuable lesson concerning negotiation.

When someone (Obama) needs a deal more than their negotiating counterpart (Iran), they’re more likely to give in.

Iran negotiated from a position of strength: We’re going to build a bomb. We are going to be the regional power. Sure we’d like you to lift the sanctions, but, “Death to America!”

Obama wore on his sleeve the fact that he needs at least one foreign policy “win” for his legacy. He also wants Iran as a “friend.”

So, the Iranians played him to the max. Their bomb is merely delayed. They get their billions. Their status as a regional power is enhanced.

Now, to apply this “teachable moment” to your business or practice, here are a few of the many takeaways:

Negotiate from strength, know your opponent, and never try to save him or her.

What are you signaling in your negotiations? Not just what are you saying, but what are you doing? What are the other members of your team signaling/saying/doing?

Are you indifferent to the deal? Can you live with it or without it? Or do you have to have it?

What can be found out about you? (As in, if you don’t get this deal, you go out of business.)

What do your negotiating counterparts really need? How are the individuals involved paid/what are their personal incentives?

And last but not least, don’t for moment signal, or even think, that you are looking for a friend.

Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Mark F. Weiss



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