When People Get Emotional, They Won’t Trade Or Be Persuaded

In this interview, Business Standard reporter Devina Joshi talks with Prof. Stuart Diamond about the role of emotions in negotiations. Originally published in Business Standard here.

What does it really take to be a good negotiator?
Focus on other people and their needs to figure out what you can give them so they can give you something in return. You have got to be empathetic but dispassionate. You can’t be emotional; if you are, you lose. It is important to focus on your goals; make sure your actions are meeting your goals, that you’re not getting distracted. And finally, you have to be able to treat each situation differently. You need to find out the tools and methods for each situation. There are no stereotypes. The only rule is that every situation is different. We have to be future looking as we can’t fix yesterday.

How can negotiation help in creating value for businesses and their clients?
Negotiation helps people meet their goals. I have found that if we have different needs, we can trade them through negotiation. I’ll give you an example. Four months ago, one of Google’s negotiators wanted their fibre-optic installation done in Southern US. The price was $6 million. The Google negotiator went to the vendor for a discount and asked him, ‘What can Google do for you?’ The vendor in turn said that if he received a letter of reference from Google, he could grow his business on the basis of it and in turn, reduce the price.

Google agreed, and in exchange for a letter of reference, the vendor decided to give Google a price of $6,000. The vendor gave the company a 99.9 per cent discount – that’s how valuable that letter was to the vendor. This is what negotiation can do – when you’re trading items of unequal value to both parties, it can boost your business. You need to figure out what people value.

The problem is that people don’t get enough information about the other party. They must be more curious. I have been a journalist earlier with The New York Times, so I believe I know how to get information from people.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when they enter a negotiation? How can you avoid being exploited in negotiations?
Fighting yesterday is the biggest mistake. How do you prevent being exploited? You don’t take risk, except incremental. You say, ‘I’m not comfortable with this situation, how can I be more comfortable?’

Is it really important to get everyone on the same page? Isn’t effective negotiation likely to lead to homogeneity, which in turn can adversely affect the output of an organisation? Aren’t different points of view conducive to better output?
No, it isn’t crucial to get everyone on the same page. Studies show that the more people disagree, the diverse their views, the more value they add and the more the creativity produced. In fact, with its diverse population, India should be in much better economic shape than what it currently is if only most people valued those who are different. Silicon Valley is the most diverse place in the US. If you don’t value diversity, you have Rwanda Genocide. If you value diversity, you have companies like Google.

Less than 10 per cent of the reason why people reach agreements has anything to do with facts, it has more to do with emotions, as you once said in your Google talk sessions. Would you say that decisions at a corporate level are influenced more by emotions than facts? How does negotiation help in such situations?
Yes, only eight per cent of decisions have to do with facts and all sorts of decisions, including corporate, are influenced by emotions. Decades ago, in the US, former football player OJ Simpson was on trial for murdering his former wife. He walked free despite a yard of DNA evidence against him. Why? Simply because the jury didn’t like the prosecutor. So, it really doesn’t matter if you’re right; you won’t get people to agree unless they like you.

I gave a speech to 400 people from Microsoft a few years ago. I began the talk by telling them I googled Microsoft this morning, typing in three words, ‘Europe hates Microsoft.’ I got five million hits in a tenth of a second. Why did that happen? I asked them to think about the attitude they project to the public. This is more important than the product that is offered to consumers.

A negotiation is not a contest. It is not a stressful event. It is just a conversation where emotional payments need to be given, whether that is an apology, a concession etc. Effective negotiation is not about logic. Studies show that the more important the negotiation is to the people involved, the more emotional they are. When people get emotional, they stop listening. And if they stop listening, they won’t be persuaded.

Speaking of emotions, in your book Getting More, you have stated that emotion reduces people’s information-processing abilities as it destabilises a situation. What do you think should be the ideal emotional temperature of an organisation?
Calm and empathetic. The right emotional temperature would equal the statement ‘I love you but I’m not crazy’.

So, what is better: a conflict model of negotiation or a collaborative one, and under what kind of situations?
Most definitely, collaborative. This model has four times as much value to give than a conflict and twice as many chances of successful deals too. A typical conflict model involves walking out of situations, power play, using leverage or threats.

Eighty per cent of Indians mistrust each other, so conflict is the model of the day. This is the polar opposite to Sweden’s collaborative model with 70 per cent trust. In fact, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland all have a 60-70 per cent trust-based collaborative model.

As per my research, if India’s model were like that of Sweden, the country would make $95 billion a year in GDP. Indians would have 8 per cent more jobs – which would equal 38 million jobs, double the population of Mumbai. Collaboration is about giving people a chance: being less reactive and more constructive. After the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India and Pakistan didn’t talk for a whole year. That doesn’t solve a problem. It is no country’s fault; it is just a failure to understand how to make it better.

You are Google’s principle negotiation instructor. Now here is a company known for keeping its employees happy, with a work environment that almost spoils them with free perks etc. Can working for a market leader like Google automatically instill a hint of superiority in its employees? Does this influence their negotiation abilities?
It could but it doesn’t at Google because it has very strong values. You can be well-off and successful and still be humble. Yes, there are people in the company who are not the way they should be but by and large, Google is an ethical, straightforward company that cares about its employees.

How do you negotiate with irrational people?
You have to give them emotional payments. Value what they say. Say to them ‘tell me more’. If they place the onus of the solution on you, I will say, why not solve the problem together. I won’t say, this is too expensive, I can’t fix this. I will say, tell me why it is like this so we can fix it.

Be clear about your goals, what you want out of a negotiation. For instance, I can negotiate with my son who cries out for Lego toys – ‘I give Lego toys to children who clean their room, are you such a boy?’ Dito with banks – ‘I give business to banks that give good interest rates, are you such a bank? It is about consultation, not confrontation.

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The Art of Negotiation: How the EU and the US Should Approach Free Trade Talks

Prof. Diamond recently advised Euronews on how to get the most value out of free trade talks between the European Union and the United States. These expert tips are worth a watch — you’ll find they’re applicable to all negotiations, be they matters of international commerce, or everyday interactions at work and with family.

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Why Must We Hate Ourselves So?

Today I published a piece on the Huffington Post. It addresses our capacity for good and laments how that capacity is drowned out by our saddening society of conflict. You can read the blog below or at the Huffington Post.

We have created a society so broken that almost anyone can buy guns and kill the most defenseless among us, while adults go on national television and say gun control laws are fine.

We let children grow up seeing the most grotesque forms of violence in video games, cartoons and movies – beheadings, mutilations – and yet it causes a national uproar when for a few seconds an actress’ breast is exposed on TV, that is, the body part where mother’s milk comes from.

Whether on the sports field or on the street, trivial arguments wind up in fistfights or worse, and dozens join in. We speak horribly to each other in stores, in restaurants, in travel, and then wonder why our country drops to 7th in competitiveness because we no longer give each other our best ideas.

We solve our problems by conflict in almost every aspect of our lives – families, business, politics, social settings, and everyone seems to think it’s OK. “Tude,” for “attitude,” for being rude to others, is considered cool. There are whole TV shows about it. The most visible role models fight other people to vanquish them. And then we wonder why confused people think it’s OK to kill children.

We kick people off planes with odd clothes and accents but forget that most big crimes are committed by those who look and speak just like us, taught by our own culture of violence and conflict. We’ve killed or exploited so many innocent people abroad, and wonder why others retaliate against us. Trillions of dollars that could be used for our own progress is wasted on wars we could have solved in other ways.

It is not necessary for our enemies to beat us. We are beating ourselves. We cannot even agree on a set of national priorities that helps most citizens, and we cannot even agree on how to best spend our limited funds. We are going over a cliff and are too busy bickering about it to put on the brakes or swerve out of harm’s way. Meanwhile, rich people steal billions of dollars from those scraping by and financial institutions mislead us all and it’s treated as an intellectual exercise for policy discussion. In other words, hateful behavior might somehow be OK, or OK enough to debate about it.

We are capable of so much that is great, in the arts, in science, in human relations, but it is all but drowned out because we can no longer judge right from wrong. We tolerate a system that once would never have been acceptable. When the history of our civilization is finally written, it will say that we deserved what we got, we reaped what we sowed. Because, ultimately, when things went bad, there were not enough good men and women who stood up, at whatever personal effort, and said, ENOUGH!

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Blog: Secrets of Success for Women Entrepreneurs

Getting MoreStuart recently shared some of his secrets for success with Deborah Bailey, a writer for the Secrets of Success: Women Entrepreneurs Radio Blog. This enlightening interview is excerpted below and you can read the whole interview here.

Deborah: What’s your book about?

Stuart: Getting More: How To Negotiate To Succeed in Work and Life shows that the conventional tools of negotiation, of dealing with others, don’t work very well: power, leverage, logic, win-win, threats, walking out, etc. Instead, finding and valuing the perceptions of the other party creates four times as much value – twice as many agreements, and each agreement is worth twice as much. Finding the pictures in their heads gives you a better starting point. Valuing the pictures in their heads gets others to more likely meet your goals. It is the opposite of the way most people deal with others today – from government to business to personal life.

Deborah: Who do you think will benefit from reading your book?

Stuart: Anyone who deals with other people: from country presidents to administrative assistants, women, men, children, workers, family members, shoppers, travelers, and so forth. The model comprises a different and better way of dealing with others. This month I am giving a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Korea on Women and Leadership: what makes great leaders.

Deborah: What do you feel makes your book different from others in your category?

Stuart: It deals with perceptions and emotions, first and foremost. Everything else is unimportant unless and until you make the human connection. Your logical arguments don’t matter. Your facts are irrelevant. Your “win-win” spreadsheets will fall on deaf ears. It is true whether it’s a world leader or my kid who wants an ice cream cone.

In addition to these collaborative tools, however, Getting More shows people how to deal with hard bargainers without getting stressed out. Simply find and use the other party’s own standards, their own criteria for making decisions – whether it’s a missed service appointment or how salary increases are distributed. People hate to contradict themselves. If you give people a choice between being consistent with their standards and contradicting their standards, people will most often be consistent. You must not make yourself the issue in doing this. You need to use tact and a nice tone. But it will make your world more fair to you.

For more tips for negotiation success, or to share your negotiation story with us, make sure to connect with Stuart on Twitter and Facebook.

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At the NECA Convention 2012

SD at NECAI had the honor to deliver the keynote speech at the National Electrical Contractor’s Association (NECA) Convention earlier this month in Las Vegas, NV. I also had a great time. Excerpted here is a blog from NECA’s website that outlines some of the tools & strategies I imparted to the group. You can read the piece in its entirety here.

Excerpt: Negotiator-extraordinaire Stuart Diamond brought his “people first” philosophy to the 2012 Labor Relations General Session today, in a detailed discussion of the mistakes we make and how to adjust our approach to negotiating, from the mundane to the high-stakes.

“Negotiations aren’t between opposing sides or forces. They’re between people,” Diamond said. “When we start by recognizing everyone’s basic humanity, we start getting more.

“Start with three questions, and three statements when you negotiate: Are you happy? Because we’re not. Second, are you making money? Because we aren’t. Third, if you had this to do over, what would you do differently?”

Diamond’s presentation was based on the principles outlined in his bestseller Getting More and specific questions from NECA chapter managers about challenges they have faced during labor negotiations. He reiterated that negotiation never really stops with colleagues since communication and relationship management is integral to negotiations. “If you start 90 days out from when the contract expires, you’re already setting yourself up for failure,” he said.

Diamond has extensive experience assisting with conflict-resolution on vital international interests, and one of his observations from his time with U.S. forces in Afghanistan got the audience’s attention. “It’s an exercise I call Dreams and Fears,” he said. “When you know the other side’s dreams and fears – as people, not representatives of some kind of organization – you realize how much more you can help them, facilitating their sense of goodwill towards you. In Afghanistan, the local negotiators’ dreams – their needs – included laundry detergent and Gatorade. Meaning we can save American soldiers’ lives by learning where the roadside bombs are, what threats the Taliban is making, just with detergent and Gatorade. Ask what their needs are. And let them know you’re there to help meet their needs.”

From everything to calming a scared child to dealing with grudges, Diamond starts negotiations from the premise that everyone at the table is human, affected by human foibles and basic needs for respect and appreciation. Threats, manipulation and inflexible demands can’t be a part of successful negotiations, he said.

“You are the least important part about the negotiation,” he said, smiling. “By putting the focus on other needs’, you’ll work your way to the results you want every time. It’s scalable, where success and cooperation lead to more success. It won’t be a home run every time. But it does work.”

For more negotiation tips and tales, or to share your negotiation successes with me, make sure to connect with me on Facebook & Twitter.

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Kids Negotiate With School Over Graduation

Below is part 2 of the negotiation after the class on negotiation tools for kids. They got confidence, control and sparkle. See principal’s note below.

Dear Stuart,
I am so sorry that I missed your session on negotiating with the Upper Elementary children. It must have been good because they appeared out of the blue in my office the other day, using their power of persuasion to convince me to move this Friday’s graduation back out doors. They were very well spoken and had obviously done a great deal of preparation before hand! They knew Friday’s weather forecast, not only that it would be sunny but that it would not be too hot or too cold. They had calculated the number of people who will likely be in the audience and knew that the number was higher than the fire code allowed and they promised to speak loudly and sing like angels so their audience would be duly impressed! They presented their case with great confidence… and the sparkle in their eyes told me how much they were enjoying themselves. I realized that was because they were practicing the techniques you taught them – on me! How could I say no? Pray for sunshine on Friday!
With fond regards,

Abigail J. Miller
Head of School

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Kids Learn How to Get More from Their Parents

I had my best assignment of the year recently. I gave a presentation on negotiation to my 10-year-old son Alexander’s 5th grade class. I told them, among other things, how to get more things from their parents using the tools of Getting More. Here is a note I got from the class with an excerpt pulled out.Note From Kids

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Getting More In Brazil

This was just sent to us by our Publisher in Brazil — Great to see the lovely Portuguese version of Getting More occupying prime real estate in Brazilian stores, right near Steve Jobs!

GM Brazil

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LeaseMy 90 year old mother in law has lived in an assisted living senior facility for the past 2 years. Due to the recessed economy, management recently announced a promotional room price of $1525 per month to stir up new business.

My mother in law was paying $2440 per month, and that price was slated to increase even more in December. Believing it’s unfair to treat new tenants better than long-time loyal occupants, she asked my wife to contact the business office to request the promotional price.

The business manager promptly returned her call and, reading from a rehearsed script, dryly explained that the special price was for new residents only. Then, hard bargainer that he was, he followed up the phone call with a notification of lease termination. It was clear to me that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this guy so I decided to go right to the top.

Two days later I contacted the owner directly (the real decision maker) and calmly explained our dilemma. I explained that my mother in law was very comfortable in the facility but felt that her status as a loyal renter was being devalued by being excluded from the lower price. I explained that I understood his position but I wasn’t asking for everyone – just my mother in law, who had been living there for many years.

I also reminded him that my mother in law would probably need more intensive care in the future, one of his core profit centers. I explained that if she was happy there, she would feel much better about moving a few doors down the hall than relocating to an entirely new facility when her health issues inevitably intensified.

Seeing that I was considering the pictures in his head and not just my own interests, he happily agreed to lower her rent significantly to $1,982 and to prorate it for the current month which was already well underway. He also agreed to forego the annual rent increase until December 2012.

These negotiation tools work great. Not only was this negotiation successful but the new rent is even less than she was paying when she first moved in 2 years ago! — Andy Ungar, COO Max Grease Monkey (Beijing) Automotive Technology Ltd., Beijing China.

SD Comment:
This is excellent. Even though the owner didn’t match the introductory price, what the book and course are about are getting more, not getting everything. And I expect that the “introductory price” won’t stay there for long, while your mother-in-law’s price will increase only slowly. You have a friend in the owner. And you didn’t spend a moment on the skin-flint hard bargainer – you went to the person who could meet your goals. Savings of $5,496 for the first year alone.

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At Bat in Giant’s Stadium

Stuart Diamond with Rich Murray

Me and Rich Murray

Yesterday I had batting practice at Giants Stadium in San Francisco with Rich Murray, who played first base for the Giants from 1980-83. His stats included four home runs and 125 hits. I traded him a signed baseball for a signed copy of Getting More.

Murray was on hand for an evening at the ballpark for a group of Young Presidents Organization members from San Francisco.

The event was put together by Brad Oberwager, a Wharton graduate of 1995 and one of my favorite negotiation students. Brad is now Chairman of Sundia, which sells cut fruit in plastic containers. An anecdote is in the book on how he trades items of unequal value.

I gave a talk to the group about Getting More after missing five pitches from Rich, after which he gave me some batting tips and posed with me for a picture.

Later, when I went back to my hotel, I got into a conversation about the event with the doorman who took my car and noticed my Giants cap in the front seat. He remembered Murray and said, “Oh yeah, he played first base. Good guy.” The doorman was impressed with the signed baseball.

I’ll bet my 10-year-old son, Alexander, will be too.

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