The Negotiator Magazine

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These “tools” highlight vulnerabilities in your adversary’s position and suggest focal points for solution. Offering tools to your opponent can benefit you greatly. Even warriors, fearless and fast to defend, can appreciate the diplomatic principal that a rat, backed into a corner, will bite. Therefore, if feasible, providing your adversary a graceful if not altogether painless exit can further a sense of fair play and greater good will. 

Failed first efforts can provide a road-map to your ultimate destination

First attempts at negotiation can fail for any number of reasons: the foundation of your argument can erode; the scope of negotiation can shift; previously non-contested issues can suddenly become divisive; or, you may simply find you are incapable of reaching accord because of personality conflicts with your opponent. Remember, regardless how disastrous you consider your first attempt, preserve the ability to fall back, reassess your position and return to the table – beginning again. It’s better to fall back and regroup than attempt a coherent argument through confusion, bravado, fear or frustration. 

Allow everyone room to adjust

To aid in maintaining objectivity and a calm demeanor, keep this universal truth in mind:  

No one and no system is perfect. Negotiations aren’t crafted from an “I win” attitude. They are built by acknowledging differences and discovering and developing solutions. In negotiation, any perceived “failure” is simply an opportunity to calibrate a range of improvements. 

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June 2006