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Training the Enemy

Published: Jan 09 , 2018
Author: Brian Buck

Congrats General! You got everything you wanted and obliterated the competition. As you celebrate your success, just know that your competition is re-grouping and waiting to pulverize you at the next battle. Cheers!

That’s what happens every time we leave the negotiation table. We train the other party to negotiate with us based on their experience with us. If they know we are pushovers, then their demands will increase. If they find us overly aggressive, then they may be more defensive and put less and less on the table to negotiate. Odds are, many of you have unwillingly trained your worst nightmares.

The skilled negotiator is adept at getting everything that is important to them in a manner that strengthens relationships and sets them up for success every time they come to the negotiation table. The skilled negotiator is mindful of the other party at all times. Their demands. Their tactics. Their “hot buttons”. The skilled negotiator will use all that information to their advantage to train the other party to behave in a way that creates the best outcome for the skilled negotiator.

Next time you negotiate with that nightmare, ask yourself, “how did we get here?” Examine when you first had to cave in on a demand or when you had to give something away. You’ll start to recognize how you contributed to creating this nightmare. We’re not saying it’s all your fault, but let’s be honest, you are probably partly to blame. In order to change their behaviors, you need to change yours. You can start by either creating incentives for the other to behave differently or sanctions for behaving badly. Start with the epicenter and work from there.

From Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, “Excellence…is not an act, but a habit.” Changing the other party’s behavior may not happen overnight, but it certainly won’t change till you change how you behave at the negotiating table.

Author: Brian Buck

Illustration: Ben Risbeck


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About the author:

Brian Buck
As an entrepreneur, business owner, and Fortune 500 business executive, Brian has spent his career building winning teams and driving successful companies. Brian has spent the last 20 years within the marketing and advertising industry developing successful consumer engagement marketing strategies for trusted brands such as Google, Amazon, Samsung, Virgin Mobile, Microsoft and Sony.

Read more about Brian Buck

More posts by Brian Buck

Latest Blog:

The Lazy Negotiator

If you’re anything like me, you like to combine good results, with the least amount of work. I was fascinated to hear President Trump claim last week that he “didn’t think he needed to prepare very much” going into his summit with Kim Jong-Un to discuss denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. While we’ll all have to wait a few months to seriously measure the success or otherwise of that initial Singapore meeting, (and - like everything else in this deeply divided nation right now - opinions tends to be heavily influenced by which political party you happen to support), it got me thinking about the minimum amount of preparation necessary to go into a serious negotiation.

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