Spies, Lies & Negotiations

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Go watch “Bridge of Spies” starring Tom Hanks. Forget the popcorn. Get a pen and pad to take notes. This is the best video training on negotiation I’ve seen in years. Here are my notes on the movie.

  1. Always be prepared to walk away. Make sure the other side knows that you will. This one will be the most stressful. If you can’t walk, you’ll lose every time.
  2. Never, ever lay your cards on the table. You think utter transparency will be reciprocated and you’ll be seen as a fair, open minded and principled opponent. WRONG. They’ll see you for a fool.
  3. Propose more than you’re willing to accept. Give yourself room to barter and more importantly mask your true bottom line – gotta have – no joke position.
  4. Not letting them know what you think is almost as important as not letting them see you sweat.
  5. Not all leverage comes before the first round. Often it develops as a result of the negotiation itself. There’s opening moves and counter moves. Adjust and adapt.
  6. Never negotiate each point separate from the others. The deal is a potpourri of various points, issues and elements. Use them in combination to give parts that don’t matter to you in return for getting what really matters.
  7. Never accept an initial offer – no matter how surprisingly amazing. Always counter back. He probably knows number 3 above so taking the first offer simply leaves value on the table that you don’t get. Further it puts you in an inferior position the next time.

Every one of these was brilliantly illustrated in the movie. After all it is Tom Hanks.
Now for the advanced course I suggest ESPN’s high tower coverage of the World Series of Poker on ESPN. Those guys know how to bluff, push and win. Be patient and learn.


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