The Negotiator Magazine

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15) Hold your cards close to your vest.
Closely guard your strategy, selectively revealing it in a manner which, ideally, exposes the strategy of your opponent, or tests their reaction, and therefore generates information. Before traversing an icy road in winter, I apply a brake test to see how slick the surface actually is, since looks can be deceiving. I do the same when I’m working with the opposition during negotiations. It is important to learn as much about your opponent’s style as quickly as possible. During the early part of discussions, throw out test material – things you know from prior contact will evoke a certain response. See how they communicate their reaction to you. This technique can further help you more closely emulate the communication style of your opponent.

Perception

16) Appreciate the perceptions of your adversary.
They say perception is 9/10s of reality. If that’s the case, it follows that more than half of any battle is in how your adversary perceives you and your position.

Consider your message within your adversary’s frame of reference.  Proper language, applied within the appropriate emotional and physical context, can communicate volumes of meaning, whether intended or not. The meaning you convey will depend upon the reception of your adversary and will be limited within the confines of their frame of reference.

 

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June 2006