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2. Consider using an analogy or metaphor to address your preferred topics.

Metaphors and analogies have a tendency to redirect a person's thinking once they are raised, especially vivid and/or memorable ones.

So begin your negotiations having a good one in your back pocket, ready to pull out when necessary.

Give this some thought, too, before the negotiation begins, since you will find that they can be particularly effective at focusing parties' attention away from or toward a particular issue.

3. Evaluate the similarities and differences with your situation.

Since analogies and metaphors can be so powerful, it is especially important to ensure that they are appropriate to the situation.

For instance, Richard Neustadt and Ernest May in "Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers," describe the largely negative impact of the Johnson White House's failure to appropriately compare the French occupation of Vietnam in the 1950s to the U.S. situation in 1965.

In that critical internal White House negotiation on how to wage war in Vietnam, an analogy to France in Vietnam in the 1950s was considered but not truly analyzed in terms of its similarities and differences.

If it had been, it would have highlighted many of the problems the U.S. eventually faced there.

4. Dig below the surface to find an analogy's true meaning.

As Smith noted above, metaphors have a tendency to focus on "certain concerns while masking others."

When used to help you control the agenda, metaphors and analogies can be very effective in addressing your preferred issues and avoiding certain topics.

But this also means that when you hear one, you should consider what the other side is trying to accomplish with it. What might be "masked" by accepting the metaphor or analogy?

This may give you some important insights into your counterpart's thinking and preferred agenda.

Of course, in many ways, a negotiation is just like a marathon. But there also are many important differences. Both need to be evaluated if you run with that analogy.

Marty Latz, a negotiation columnist for The Business Journal of Phoenix where this column originally appeared, is President of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He has developed and taught negotiation training programs and seminars for corporations, cities, bar associations and law firms nationwide. Participants at his courses leave behind the intuitive and instinctive -- along with their inherent uncertainties -- and develop the strategic mindset thatís at the heart of successful negotiation.

A Harvard Law honors graduate, Marty is also an Adjunct Professor-Negotiation at Arizona State University College of Law. He also negotiated for the White House nationally and internationally on the White House Advance Teams. Marty is the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martinís Press, 2004). For more and for previous columns, see or email Marty at

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October 2005