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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
Sure, we could whip up a snappy bio about Brian’s experience as an entrepreneur, business owner, and Fortune 500 executive. While we’re at it, we could go on for an afternoon about his 20 years in marketing and advertising, developing brilliant consumer-engagement strategies for the likes of Google, Amazon, Samsung, Virgin Mobile, Microsoft, and Sony. But knowing Brian, he’d rather we not. Instead, he’d likely ask us to focus on something else — namely, other people ...

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More posts by Brian Buck

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Stranger Things Have Been Known to Happen

Of all the media and fan sites dedicated to probing every nuance of Netflix’s must-watch series Stranger Things, the experts might be missing something obvious but rather profound. I’m not a big TV or movie buff, but certain themes and genres tend to excite my interests more than others, and this show definitely represents one of them. Yet while so many journalists and bloggers have focused on the minutiae, they seem to have glossed over the extraordinary — namely, the line that separates the believable from unbelievable. Personally, I’m amazed by the creative minds that come up with such fantastical ideas. It’s truly a unique gift and a point of instruction to take with you to the negotiation table.

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