Home' The Source : Fourth Quarter 2013 Contents be the dumbest idea you’ve ever heard, re-
spond with, “That’s an option, and we will
consider it.” The moment you start telling
people that an idea won’t work, their idea is
not only killed, but they will stop contribut-
ing. And the reverse is true: Even if it’s the
best idea you’ve ever heard, don’t stop the
The principle is “First create, then de-
bate.” It’s a smart way of getting to elegant
• Set out your data. The next stage of
the negotiation is to present facts and figures
that support you and back up your position.
These standards help you persuade oth-
ers and keep you from having to argue over
simple facts. Don’t come to the table without
the data to defend your idea or program.
2. Negotiating With Bullies
Maybe your response to such a standard-
ized negotiation process is, “But you don’t
know what it’s like to negotiate with this son
of a gun.” It’s true; you do have to use differ-
ent methods with people who are upset and
angry or who act like bullies in a negotiation.
The first thing to do with these people is
to stop negotiating. Deal with people prob-
lems using people techniques before you
deal with the actual problem on its merits.
Just being nice to bullies, hoping they will
stop misbehaving, won’t work. Plus, you’ll
end up giving away the farm, negotiation-
wise, as well as training them to do the same
thing next time.
When someone begins behaving badly in
a negotiation, take a time out and then use
• Match their intensity, though not
their words. In a forceful way, let people
know they have been heard. People act badly
when they think you aren’t hearing them.
Say things like, “Oh my gosh. We really let
you down, didn’t we?” If the anger is genu-
ine, your mirrored intensity will let the air
go out of their argument.
• Give them a bucket. Some people
just need to tell you the whole, awful story,
spilling out all the details of what they’re
angry about and why. Your role is to make
“I’m listening ” noises, such as “Yes, I see”
and “Ah, I hear you.” Don’t interrupt—let
them tell you their story from the beginning.
• Listen actively. Listening actively
moves things along in a negotiation. Capture
what someone is telling you and say it back
• Take them back to options. People
are attracted to the ideas they create them-
selves. Ask questions like, “If this doesn’t
work for you, what does?” Gleaning those
kinds of options will give you power.
If none of these works for defusing the
person, he or she is not behaving reasonably.
For those kinds of people, just name their
game; say, “It feels like you’re using anger
to get what you want. Neither of us wants
that.” Call out the person and force them to
stop before you move on.
3. Navigating Through a
After you resolve the people problem
of that formerly angry negotiator, you’ll
still likely have hard work to do. To navi-
gate through a difficult conversation, try
the following four-sentence model created
by Doug Stone, a lecturer at Harvard Law
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