‘Collaboration, not threats help in negotiation’

Stuart Diamond, author and University of Pennsylvania professor in negotiation, shared insights from designing a successful negotiating model  

Vishal koul

Stuart Diamond, who teaches negotiation at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Getting More, said, “The most important day in the life of any deal is not the day you do the deal, it’s the next day when everyone shows up in the same place, what does that look like?” He was speaking at the Outlook Business #leadingedge2019.

After studying interpersonal interactions for the past 30 years, he found that basic instructions given to people about this were wrong. “The stuff you learnt in school is wrong. It doesn’t meet goals very well,” he said, adding that he is instead presenting a new model of human interaction.

This new model replaces research from the 1970s that drew more from economics, and relies on power, leverage, logic, rationality, walk out and so on. Diamond said that his new model is based on psychology research that began in the 1990s on emotional intelligence, perceptions and cultural diversity.

Emotional intelligence is crucial because negotiations go your way, if you are liked. Diamond said that facts don’t matter very much when it comes to negotiations. “More than half of it has to do with whether the people like or trust each other, and most of the rest is how people talk,” he said. “If people like you, they will tend to believe what you say, even if what you say is false. If people dislike you, they will tend to disbelieve you even if what you say is true. It is aggravating to many people that the truth is dependent not objective, but, there it is.”

Diamond recalled a negotiation he oversaw between the Colombia government and military, and a terrorist group. “I remember meeting them in the Pentagon at their request. The chief military officer of Colombia piped up and said to the terrorists, ‘They have to give back their weapons’. I said, ‘No, they don’t. Lunch first, weapons later’. And, it turns, out when they had lunch, it wasn’t about weapons at all,” he said. The rebel group was willing to give back their weapons and they instead wanted a protection programme, jobs and a political party. “So, until they discovered who each other were, there was no deal possible,” he said, adding that it is a “dumb idea” for India and Pakistan to not have many talks between them. “You got to find out who each other is. You got to find out if there are some perceptions that you haven’t accounted for.”

Diamond’s new model, he said, generates four times as much value and for two reasons. One, it helps you understand the other’s perceptions, which gives you a better starting point for persuasion. Second, it helps you respect perceptions, which you can then ‘carry along’ with you. “It is persistently collaborative, as well as persistently fair like, ‘I love you to death’ like fair,” he said.