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You Can Negotiate Anything

By Herb Cohen
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You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen

You Can Negotiate Anything (1980) shows that negotiations occur in every walk of life and that it is vital to have the skills and understanding to deal with those situations. The book outlines the key factors affecting negotiation success, as well as ways of negotiating for win-win solutions.

Key idea 1 of 8

Avoid Soviet-style negotiators – they mistake negotiations for battlefields.

Some people see negotiations as a win-lose battle, where one party’s gain is always the other party’s loss. This “winning at all costs” strategy is deployed around the globe, but the former Soviet Union is a prime example of its use. Because these negotiation tactics are so widespread, you must be able to identify them and protect yourself against them.

A clear trait of Soviet-style negotiators is that they take ridiculous initial positions and are then unwilling to make significant concessions. When the Soviet Union sought to purchase land on Long Island for its embassy’s recreational use, it initially offered $125,000 for the property worth $420,000. When the seller dropped the price to $360,000, the Soviets viewed this as a sign of weakness.

Eventually, they raised their offer – to $133,000. Such stingy concessions, especially at the last minute, are typical of Soviet-style negotiators, as they hope the pressure of the deadline will make the opposition cave.

Other Soviet-style tactics include using negotiators with limited authority, meaning people who cannot make concessions on their own. In this case, you will effectively be negotiating against yourself.

Emotional tactics such as bullying, walking out or even crying are also often used as a weapon. Have you ever tried to negotiate with someone who breaks down in tears? You often end up giving the other side whatever they want. This particular tactic may not happen with a vodka-drinking, grim-faced Soviet general, but it is quite common in spousal arguments.

If you encounter a Soviet-style negotiator, you might simply want to walk away and consider other alternatives. If you do enter the fray, however, you should be careful to adhere to limits you have set for yourself in advance, and keep a cool demeanor despite any emotional tactics.

Avoid Soviet-style negotiators – they mistake negotiations for battlefields.

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