Click Here To Listen To The NEGOTIATEx Podcast

Key Takeaways

  • Empathy can lead to oversharing by the other party, providing insights into closing deals.
  • Skilled negotiators adeptly lead the opposing party towards favorable solutions by comprehending their motivations and aligning them with their own insights, thus creating outcomes that benefit both sides.
  • John explains a four-step process from game theory for managing competitive and cooperative negotiation styles: start cooperatively, respond in kind, be willing to forgive and be clear and consistent.
  • Good preparation is crucial in negotiation. It allows negotiators to adapt to unforeseen variables and make strategic adjustments.
  • Lessons from Captain Sully Sullenberger’s handling of the incident are applicable to negotiation, including effective communication, decision-making in uncertainty, problem-solving, vision, values, leading and following, and influence without recognition.
  • Young professionals should focus on developing negotiation skills to differentiate themselves in their careers. John advises intentional skill development through courses, reading, or engaging with relevant organizations.

Executive Summary:

Hey everyone! Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our insightful discussion with Dr. John Lowry, a renowned negotiation expert, author, and the president of Lowry Group.

In part A, John discussed the key negotiation principles mentioned in his book, including self-management, balancing competition with cooperation, strategic first moves, empathy, and mutual satisfaction to help the listeners become better negotiators.   

Additionally, John highlighted the importance of recognizing daily interactions as negotiation opportunities and addressed the negotiation styles of introverts and extroverts. He also covered strategies for dealing with uncertainty and bad faith in negotiations, highlighting the importance of strategic thinking and adaptability.

We highly encourage you to listen to Part A of this episode if you haven’t done so. With that said, let’s cut to the chase.

Mastering Empathy In Negotiations: Learning, Understanding, And Creative Problem-Solving

John discusses the concept of empathy in negotiation, describing it as a learning process. He references his book and the idea of being a “learn-it-all” negotiator, inspired by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who learned empathy from his wife. 

John explains that empathy involves observing and asking open-ended questions, which can lead to oversharing by the other party and provide insights into how to close a deal.

He shares a story about a mediation case involving a Top Gun pilot who suffered a neck injury in a car accident. This injury grounded him, affecting his identity and career. In this case, the mediator demonstrated empathy by recognizing the pilot’s loss and suggesting a creative solution involving a Corvette, which addressed the pilot’s need for an adrenaline rush. Thus, it satisfied the pilot’s emotional needs and saved the insurance company significant money.

The Power of Understanding and Partnership In Negotiations

Subsequently, Aram reflects on the powerful impact of empathy in negotiation, as illustrated by John Lowry’s story. He notes that empathy leads to a deeper understanding of problems and needs, resulting in defensible solutions even to the most demanding critics, such as a spouse or partner. 

Aram contrasts “learn-it-all” negotiators with “know-it-all” negotiators, emphasizing the importance of questioning and openness to learning from the other party rather than assuming one has all the answers.

John expands on this by discussing the effectiveness of posture in negotiation. He contrasts the “know-it-all” approach, where one party tries to convince the other that they are correct, with the “learn-it-all” approach, which is about understanding what drives the other party. 

John explains that persuasion has limits and that effective negotiators focus on guiding the other party to the correct answer, which must often be their conclusion. It involves learning what motivates the other side and connecting it with one’s knowledge to craft a mutually beneficial solution. 

Strategic Flexibility In Negotiation: Balancing Competition And Cooperation Using Game Theory

Moving on, Aram asks John about managing competitive and cooperative forms of negotiation and how to choose or shift between these approaches.

In response, John explains a four-step process derived from game theory, initially developed by a sheep farmer in Wales and published by Robert Axelrod, a professor at the University of Michigan. The steps are:

#1 Start Cooperatively 

Begin negotiations cooperatively but with minimal risk. This allows for assessing the other party’s approach without exposing oneself to significant vulnerability.

#2 Respond In Kind 

If the other party responds cooperatively, continue in the same manner. If they react competitively, they retaliate by also becoming competitive. This strategy aims to incentivize cooperation; if both parties are competitive, they both stand to lose, encouraging a shift towards collaboration.

#3 Be Willing To Forgive 

If the other party switches from competitive to cooperative behavior, forgiving their initial competitiveness rather than seeking revenge is essential. This helps maintain a collaborative path and prevents reverting to competitive tactics.

#4 Be Clear And Consistent 

Establishing trust in negotiation requires consistency in responses. Trust involves two key aspects: 

  1. ensuring the other party knows you will respond competitively if they are competitive, preventing exploitation.
  2. signaling that you will respond cooperatively if they are cooperative, encouraging a collaborative approach.

How Strategic Planning Drives Successful Outcomes In Negotiations 

Next, Nolan, discussing the importance of negotiation preparation, asks John to explain how good preparation impacts negotiation outcomes. He references the Negotiator’s Preparation Checklist from John’s book, Negotiation Made Simple.

John responds by highlighting the critical role of preparation in negotiation, comparing it to military planning. He notes that while plans may not always go as expected, preparing for the process equips one to handle unforeseen variables. Preparation allows negotiators to adapt quickly to surprises and make strategic adjustments.

John further delves into the importance of preparation by discussing the Negotiation Preparation tool from his book, a one-page framework to map out negotiations. This tool helps negotiators think through strategic decisions, even though the exact outcomes can’t be predicted. Additionally, the tool involves answering key questions before entering negotiations. While not all questions can be answered beforehand, considering them is crucial. 

Applying Captain Sully’s ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Lessons To Achieve Successful Deals

Aram asks John about lessons negotiators can learn from Captain Sully Sullenberger’s handling of the “Miracle on the Hudson” incident to achieve better deals.

In response, the latter shares several lessons from Sullenberger’s experience:

#1 Effective Communication 

Despite not knowing his first officer well, Sullenberger’s training ensured they could communicate effectively. In negotiation, establishing a good communication process is crucial.

#2 Decision-Making In Uncertainty 

Faced with the dilemma of returning to the airport or landing on the Hudson, Sullenberger relied on his experience to make a critical decision under pressure. Similarly, negotiators must use their experience to make decisions in uncertain situations.

#3 Problem-Solving And Creativity 

Sullenberger had to think creatively to find a solution, choosing to land on the Hudson near the USS Intrepid and a ferry terminal for rescue. Negotiators should also be creative and problem-solving in their approach.

#4 Vision For The Deal 

Sullenberger’s decision to land near the Intrepid showed vision, an essential trait for negotiators in crafting deals.

#5 Values In Negotiation 

After landing, Sullenberger prioritized his duty as a captain, reflecting the importance of adhering to values in negotiation.

#6 Leading And Following 

Sullenberger demonstrated leadership in making the decision to land and then followed his crew’s lead during evacuation. Negotiators should know when to lead and when to follow, especially in situations involving egos.

#7 Influence Without Recognition 

Effective negotiators can guide the direction of a deal without needing recognition, allowing others to take credit while still achieving desired outcomes.

Essential Strategies For Young Professionals

As the conversation draws to a close, Nolan asks John for final advice for young professionals aspiring to become more effective negotiators.

The latter highlights the importance of negotiation skills in differentiating young professionals in their careers. He believes that focusing on problem-solving and deal-making abilities is key to success in various fields, including IT, HR, sales, finance, and entrepreneurship. 

Furthermore, John notes that less than 10% of people have taken a formal negotiation course or intentionally developed their negotiation skills. He advises young professionals to be intentional about their negotiation skill development, as it can put them ahead of most people who rely on trial and error. He suggests attending courses, reading books, or engaging with organizations like the Lowry Group to build this skill set.

John, Aram, and Nolan discuss more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this informational podcast episode. Also, if you enjoyed the episode, we’d be thrilled if you could rate us on Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us grow and improve.

Thank you for your time!


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Dr. John Lowry, president of the Lowry Group. If you haven't already checked out part A of this show, be sure to do that first. Let's jump on the conversation with John.

Aram Donigian : When things are really tough or when there's a great deal of uncertainty, thinking strategically versus doing what's comfortable. Certainly naming the behavior, identifying it for the other side, that's not a comfortable thing. It certainly gives them an out because it may or may not be intentional. And then I love that how you wrap that up, which is we've got to negotiate the process before we get the substance and that helps us challenge those assumptions and if we can align on the process, get to a better outcome. So yeah, thanks for that insight.

John Lowry : Absolutely.

NM : So now's your chance to talk about empathy because John, I suck at being empathetic. It's something that I definitely have to work on whenever I am negotiating. I'm not always at least showing that I'm empathetic to the other side. So I'm wondering how does empathy play a critical role in negotiation strategies?

Empathy As A Competitive Advantage: How Emotional Intelligence Wins Deals And Saves Costs (01:41)

JL : Great question. So I think a lot of empathy is about learning. And so I talk in the book about being a learn it all negotiator, and that's really something that I kind of built out of reading a story about Satya Nadella, who is the CEO of Microsoft. He talked about how he learned empathy from his wife who was the primary caretaker of his son that had different physical challenges and watching his wife and how empathetic his wife was in terms of trying to understand even though his son couldn't communicate very well, trying to understand what he was going through and how to serve him on a day-to-day basis with all the physical needs that he had. He watched that day after day after day and said there's something about that as far as leadership goes.

And I think there's something about that as far as negotiation goes in terms of saying, okay, so much of negotiation and what we read about negotiation is we start talking about influence and we start talking about persuasion and we start talking about communication and all of these things that are kind of these proactive you to them type processes that can help kind of generate deals. And what I tried to do here in the book is just say, hold on a second before you run down those roads, it might be valuable just to pause and observe and see what you can learn. And many times by taking the time to be empathetic by being a learn-it-all negotiator, you'll learn things that dramatically change your approach in how to solve the problem or how to put the deal together.

It's those people that are disciplined enough see the value of it. I mean it's not hard, it's just simply asking questions and it's just asking some open-ended questions and getting people to talk. And when you get people to talk, they will often overshare and they will also then give you a path on how to get the deal.

And so one of the stories I love to tell around this is a story that actually was originally told by my friend Peter Robinson out of Pepperdine. I heard him tell this story training with him for years and years and years and I just grew to love it. But Peter was involved in a mediation and it was a mediation around a car accident out in San Diego, California. And the driver that was hit was a Top Gun pilot. So you all have a military background, he was a naval aviator and as a result of the accident, he suffered a neck injury that wasn't a serious injury, he wasn't debilitated or paralyzed or anything like that, but as a result of the injury he was grounded.

And so now all of a sudden here he is the best of the best naval aviators. And because he gets rear-ended, now all of a sudden his identity, his career, his adrenaline rush, all of that is gone. And you can imagine this moment. So the lawyers that were trying to figure this out, they're doing this in the context of civil litigation where the only thing you have to share is money. Yet for what this guy lost, it didn't really have to do with money. He wasn't worried about his medical expenses getting paid.

What he was worried about was what's my new identity and I'm an adrenaline junkie and I don't get to go up in an airplane and go mock and do 4G negative dives anymore. What am I going to do? And so it was finally the mediator who just kind of took this guy aside and said, I recognize and this is being empathetic, I recognize what you've lost and I want to see if within the context of this process we can try to figure that out. And he goes, I know you can't fly a plane, but is there another way to feed that adrenaline rush that I understand is really important to you and I get it?

So in the context of that, he said, I always wanted a Corvette. And so the mediator was like, okay, here's an idea. So the mediator goes back into the insurance company and says, you need to call a Chevy dealership right now and you need to figure out how much it costs for a fully loaded, everything on it, biggest engine, you name it, top of the line Corvette. And they're like, we don't do that. They're like, “you do now. Call them.”

So literally in the context of this day long mediation, you have this insurance rep who's talking to the Chevy dealership saying, how much does it cost me to order the top of the line Corvette? And at the time it was like $95,000 I think it was. And so they said, okay, well we'll just provide a credit of $95,000 for a new vehicle and we'll just give him a check and he can go buy a new Corvette. And the mediator said, Nope, you don't get it can't happen. And they're like, well, we don't buy cars for people. He's like, do you want to settle the case and save hundreds of thousands of dollars or not?

And they finally was like, okay, maybe we can figure this out. And so they ended up buying the Corvette and as part of the settlement they then told them, look, here's all the numbers related to everything else. And then on top of that, if you're willing to agree to this, here's what we're willing to do. You need to go to such and such a dealership and you need to place an order for your Corvette and that's going to be part of this deal. What the guy said after they got the deal done to the mediator is he said, one of the things you did for me was really, really powerful. And he just thanked him and he said, working the Corvette into the deal is really critical because he says, “There's no way in the world I could go home to my wife and say, honey, we got the case settled, we settled it for $300,000. Now I'm going to take $95,000 and I'm going to go buy a Corvette.”

He's like, there's no way in the world I could have done that, but by you putting it into the deal, I get to go home and say, honey, they're going to give us $250,000. And they bought me a Corvette and he's like, I get my Corvette. And so as a result of the Corvette that actually saved the insurance company way more than 95,000 bucks. But that's the piece of empathy that's so critical, is to understand the Corvette for him is not about $95,000. The Corvette for him is something more personal, more emotional, more identity based. And had that mediator not been emotionally intelligent and had the skill of practicing empathy, that moment never would've happened because those lawyers weren't going there.

AD : Well, what a powerful story on so many levels in terms of empathy leading to a better understanding of the problem and needs, and then also the solution being one that is defendable to toughest critics, which is something we got to remember too, which is he's got to go back and defend this outcome to his spouse, his partner, his wife, and he can do that with one solution.

He'd have a hard time with the other, as you said, learn it all negotiators that in contrast to a know-it-all negotiator, does this go back to the framing of I've got all the answers, I don't need to learn from you versus the opening up, the power of questioning a good inquiry and the fact that I don't, and I'm okay with that uncertainty of not knowing everything. I've got a plan though for how I'm going to learn what I don't know.

Beyond Right Answers, Right Relationships: Building Trust And Ownership In Deal-Making (09:25)

JL : So I think it's all about how you posture with the other side. So if you're a, ‘know-it-all’, then the whole posture from that is you are right, they're wrong, and you have to convince them that you are right. And what I've learned practicing law, even though I spent all this money learning how to persuade, I never called up an opposing counsel and said, listen, I have a law degree from a very reputable institution. I'm a very well-recognized attorney, and I've looked at your case and what I can tell you is that your case has no merit and you need to dismiss it immediately. And I've never had opposing counsel be like, well, thank you John, I appreciate your analysis and I'll get right on that because you've persuaded me that my case is horrible and that I shouldn't move forward with it.

It never happened. So, persuasion only gets you so far. Sometimes people are overconfident in their ability to persuade. So what this is is it changes your whole posture to say, and this is what I think effective negotiators understand is you may have the right answer, but if you can't get the other side to the right answer, that right answer is irrelevant. And so the more important question for negotiators is how do I get the other side to the right answer? And many times it has to be their answer, not your answer. And so this is where this process comes in, in terms of saying learn it all. You already know what you know now you've got to figure out how to learn what's driving them so you can connect what you know with what's driving them. And now all of a sudden you can put a deal together that meets their needs more effectively and meets your needs as well.

And so what happens when you become a ‘learn at all’ is you become a partner with the other side in terms of trying to craft a solution. And by taking that approach, you increase substantially the chance that the other side is going to say yes if they feel ownership and they feel like they've been involved in creating it.

AD : And John, what you're saying right now I think ties to a really nice distinction you make in the book, which between competitive and cooperative forms of negotiation. And I think you do a nice job of saying, Hey, both have their time in place. How do you manage both for yourself and then also for clients or students or others that you work with when to choose which approach to take or even how to shift to let's say cooperation, when you recognize competition isn't going to get you where you want to go?

Clear And Consistent: Why Predictability Fosters Trust And Wins Deals In Murky Waters (12:05)

JL : Great question. So there's a four-step process that actually comes to game theory, and it was published by a professor at the University of Michigan named Robert Axelrod. The origin of this process, my understanding is it was actually a sheep farmer in Wales that came up with this through some of the game theory exercises and things that folks in that world do. There was a competition and it was actually the sheep farmer that won the competition and Axelrod published the results of this competition. What Axelrod says in this dynamic to where you don't know if you're playing a cooperative game or a competitive game, Axelrod laid out a four step approach on how to do it. And I think it applies to negotiation really well.

So, the first step is to start cooperatively, give cooperation a chance, but I add to that, so this is Axelrod plus Lowy at this point, don't risk very much, start cooperatively but don't risk very much. Then the next step is to respond in kind. And so if the other side responds with cooperation of their own, then keep being cooperative. That's a moment where there's reciprocation. Keep moving forward down the cooperative path. If the other side responds with competition, now instead of being reciprocal, now's the moment where you have to retaliate and you have to become competitive as well. And so you're going to respond to whatever it is that they do, and hopefully if they want to be competitive and you ultimately become competitive, then you incentivize them to be cooperative.

Because if both of you are competitive, then at the end of the day you're going to cause each other to lose. And if they're really about winning, but they recognize they can't exploit you, now all of a sudden you've really incentivized the other side to be more cooperative. It's really simple. You just observe what they do, analyze their move, and then respond in kind in terms of the next move.

Then the third thing Axelrod says is really interesting, and he says, you have to be willing to forgive. And what Axelrod means there, and what this whole idea is, if you do get the other side's attention, they try to be competitive, you become competitive and they switch back to being cooperative. That's the moment where some people are like, you burn me in round one. I'm going to look for my first opportunity to burn you and I'm going to get you back. And Axelrod says, “no, no, no, no, no.” Because what we're trying to do here is we're trying to get things on a cooperative path.

And so if you burn them after they've decided to finally become cooperative, you're going to turn 'em right back over to the competitive side and you'll probably never get 'em back. And so that's a moment where you've got to be willing to forgive them for their attempt to be competitive early and you've got to match their cooperation with cooperation.

And then the last thing that is part of this four step process is you have to be clear and consistent, and that's what begins to build trust in the negotiation process. And so trust and negotiation from my perspective, really involves two things. Number one, if the other side is competitive, they have to know that you are going to be competitive as well. So this really leads to trust and negotiation. And I believe trust really, it has two things that are really important.

One is that you build trust by making sure that the other side knows that if they are going to be competitive, you will be competitive too. They have to know that they got to know they can't exploit you. But at the same time, and this is the second part, if they are going to be cooperative, you will be cooperative in response. And if you can set that up, you incentivize in the best way you possibly can, the other side to be cooperative with you in terms of trying to work out a problem, work a deal, do whatever it is that you're attempting to do.

AD : And it seems that that approach that Axelrod lays out has trust building tied into it. So if I start competitive on signaling, this goes back, I think to something you said earlier, which is, it's why the first move is so critical. The signal, the message I send both through words and actions become really important, even tying into my willingness to forgive, which to me tied back to some of the things you were saying about empathy, right? I forgive that first move because you didn't know just how to handle some uncertainty there and then this clear and consistent behavior on your part, all of that ties in.

NM : Now one of our favorite things to discuss, and I think it's just because of our military backgrounds, is negotiation prep. So excited to see that in your book as well with your negotiators preparation checklist. And so I was wondering if you could explain how good preparation impacts better negotiation outcomes.

From Military Maneuvers To Dealmaking Magic: The Power Of Redundancy and Flexibility (17:11)

JL : So I think preparation is key and preparation and a lack of preparation is just dangerous. If you're not prepared going into the deal, you're going in blind. And so the military is a great example of preparation in terms of how the military prepares for things and the redundancies in the contingency plans and all of that kind of stuff that you would see that's really valuable from a negotiation standpoint because once you get into battle, if you will, to use a military analogy, your best planning, the reality is, is that it hardly ever goes according to plan. There's always something, there's some variable that comes up. But what's interesting is even though you didn't prepare for that particular variable by virtue of the fact that you've prepared for the process, you're more prepared to deal with it, whatever it is, and I think that's so true in negotiation as well.

You know, in this process, there will be surprises. And so one of the things that I lay out for people in the book is this thing called the Negotiation Preparation tool, where I take this whole framework that I've provided people and reduce it down to one page to where before a negotiation, they can work through that one page and essentially map the negotiation.

Now, what's interesting about that is you'll never get it perfectly right. And so the value of this map is not the fact that you did it exactly right. The value of this map is that you've thought through the strategic decisions that you will have to make. And what happens is if the other side starts more aggressively than you thought they would, there's an easy adjustment if they start more generously than you thought they would, it's an easy adjustment. But if you're not ready for those moments and you haven't thought through the process, you don't know exactly what adjustment to make. And as a result of that, in the moment, in the seconds that you have to make decisions, especially if you're negotiating, there's a lot of mistakes that can get made there and a lot of value that can get left on the table.

And so working through this process, it forces you to answer some questions that you want to have answered before you go into the negotiation. And in the book I lay out the 20 something questions that are really important to have answered before you walk into the process. Some of those questions you are not going to have answers to, but you want to have thought about it, and you want to develop answers to as many of them as possible.

And so another analogy I like is the preparation process is kind of like a football coaching staff. If you're a football fan out there and during a football game, you have some of the staff that's down on the field interacting with the players and doing all of that. And then you have other members of the staff that are up in the press box. And the reason is because they're looking for different vantage points and they're looking for things based upon their different perspectives that allows them to coach the game better. And that's what I think preparation does for a negotiator is when you work through this preparation process, sometimes you see things where you're like, that's not going to work. There's no way in the world they're going to do that. That would not be a good path to pursue. Or you look at it and you say, man, we're leaving a lot of money on the table here. The value of what we're talking about is way more based on this, this, and this. We need to actually be more aggressive.

But you never see that if you don't work through the entire process and think through it and think through it from the other side's perspective. If you just take a, let's see what happens, approach, you miss all of those insights and perspectives, and then it can dilute your strategy and leave you vulnerable going into the conversation.

AD : And I can see where preparation helps with that uncertainty. It helps with overcoming obstacles. One of your stories you share is about Sullenberger and his handling of the miracle on the Hudson. Just to illustrate how to overcome obstacles, what lessons might a negotiator learn from that story from the Sullenberger example to help them achieve better deals?

Communication, Experience, and Guts: Sully Sullenberger’s Arsenal for Making Tough Calls under Pressure (21:43)

JL : Well, I think there's several lessons from that. I absolutely love that story. And people have seen the movie, so they're connected with it, but they perhaps haven't gone as far as I go in the book in terms of really laying out what went through his thought process that day in terms of generating that, what has been described as a miracle, right? Well, there was part of it that was miraculous and he would even concede that, but there was a lot of it that there was a lot of it that his good decision making, his preparation, his judgment, it led to that outcome.

And I had the opportunity to sit with him in a small group and to hear him talk through, this is where I've kind of picked this up. And I just thought it was so powerful in terms of his thought process. So the first thing was, is that, he didn't know the first officer they had met. I think the day before, this was their first flight together. And so when asking about his training, he said, there's no flight simulator in the world that teaches you how to land on a moving river. They haven't created that. And so he is like, my training in the flight simulator didn't help me that day because I've never practiced what I had to do. He said, but where the training was huge is the first officer and I knew our roles and we knew how to communicate. He said we didn't even know each other. But because of training, we knew our roles and we knew how to communicate.

First thing in terms of negotiation, if you're going to set up a good process, you got to set up a good communication process and you got to establish effective communication. And that's a lesson that comes from the miracle on the Hudson. They established good communication. The next thing is, is that he had to make a call in the face of uncertainty. And the uncertainty that he had to deal with was, can I make it back to the airport or not? And he knew he would be second guessed. He knew that they would run models, but he didn't have time for any of that.

And so he said, that's where my experience came in. As he said, I had to rely on my experience to the best of my ability in the face of great uncertainty, knowing that there were at least 55 if not hundreds of lives on the line. It's a consequential decision, and he doesn't have the information that he would like to have. That is the seat of a negotiator. And yet he had to use his experience, and he ultimately concluded, I can't make it back to the airport. We don't have enough airspeed, enough altitude to make it back. And so now he's got to get creative.

Another thing for negotiators to where it's like, okay, there's not going to be an easy solution here. What do we do? And so he immediately started thinking in a problem solving creative way. And so he's like, what is the next thing that looks like a runway? And he's like, how about the river? But then he had vision, and I love this because great negotiators got to have vision for the deal. And so his vision led him to the USS Intrepid, which is an aircraft carrier that sits on the Hudson. It's now a museum in Manhattan. And he knew that there was a ferry terminal right next to the USS intrepid. And so he said, I'm going to put this plane down as close as I can to that aircraft carrier because I know that that's going to create the shortest distance for fairies to get out and to start plucking us all out of the water on a cold January morning.

And so, tremendous vision. But then in the context of all of that, he talks about how we asked him, we said, did you ever realize that you were about to die too? This was not only you as the captain, but this was you as Captain Sully. If you don't manage this right, you're done. And he said the training kind of kicked in. He’s like, I didn't have time to think about any of that. But he said, the moment I got scared was the moment where we were 10 seconds from landing. I was like, oh my gosh, we are about to do this. And he said, it got reflected in the comment I made to my first officer, and I think it was 11 seconds before touchdown where he said, you got any ideas? Because he says, I'm fresh out of ideas. He's like, we're going to do this. I don’t know how it's going to go.

And it was kind of a humorous moment. But then what happened is his values kicked in, and I think this is really, really important for negotiators because in this process, your values are going to be tested. And so he said, as soon as I landed that plane and we were in one piece, he said, I realized I was no longer the captain of an aircraft, but I was the captain of a sinking ship and the captain of a sinking ship is always the last to leave. And he said, I made the decision that I was going to be the last one out of that airplane that day, even if it meant I never made it out. So his values kicked in a way that is really, really powerful.

Then he also did something that was really interesting that I think is important for negotiators too. He said, I'm the captain as soon as I give the order to evacuate the aircraft, he said, it's the crew's job to evacuate the aircraft. And so he says, as soon as I give the order, I relinquished authority to them in terms of evacuating the plane.

So he says, when I opened the cockpit door, I didn't walk out giving orders. He said, I walked out taking orders. I walked out saying, how can I help? And so there are moments where as negotiators, sometimes you've got to be the leader, but sometimes you also have to be the follower and you've got to know when to lead and when to follow, because the reality is, is that sometimes you're going to be negotiating with people. Their egos are such that they have to be the leader. And so you can influence where they lead, but they need to be in the role of leader.

And so that's where you become a very influential follower to say, that's fine. This can be your win. I'm good as long as we end here, that's great. But it can be your win and you are leading us there and dah, dah, dah, dah. And I find that to where you have negotiators that are really effective, but they don't need the applause. They don't need the pomp and circumstance, let someone else have that. They're just the follower, but they're actually leading because they're influencing where the deal goes.

And so in that little moment, I think literally it was like a 206 second flight. There was a lot of leadership lessons that are learned there that I think are really applicable to negotiators.

AD : I got some shivers down my spine as you walked through that, John. Boy, I'd like every one of my students as well as just everyone on, to listen to the program to really hear that example that what a great applications. In fact, the course that I taught at West Point, we named it Negotiation for Leaders because we think that negotiation is such a critical leadership skill, and there's such a nice overlap in what you shared between being an effective negotiator and guess what? Being an effective leader too.

JL : Well, Aram, I've got my Dartmouth pullover, so if you need me to put it on and come to a guest speech, I'm in, man. I love Hanover, New Hampshire. So, let's go.

NM : Sounds good. Sounds good. So as we prepare to conclude, what final piece of advice would you lead with a young professional aspiring to become a more effective negotiators?

Don't Settle For Average: Intentional Negotiation Development (29:29)

JL : Yeah, for a young professional, I think that becoming an effective negotiator is what can differentiate you from the rest of the world. So many young professionals, they're focused on all these different skills. The reality is, is that if you focus on your ability to put deals together and to solve problems with people, you'll become extremely valuable regardless of whatever you do, whether you work in IT or HR or sales or finance or business, corporate entrepreneur, nonprofit, whatever. That is, I believe, kind of the key to success.

And what I found, I haven't done the formal research on this, I've just done it with thousands and thousands of people, and that is that less than 10% of people have taken a formal negotiation course or been intentional about developing their negotiation skillset.

And so every young professional's thinking about how to get ahead, the way to get ahead is to really study and learn and go to a course and do the things that you need to do to build this skillset. It'll immediately put you ahead of about 90% of the people there that do this process kind of by trial and error. And so I think being intentional about your development as a negotiator, it provides you with a tremendous advantage. And there's lots of opportunities, Lowry Group, we've got online courses and live workshops and all that stuff. There's books. You can go to universities and take classes and all that kind of, there's lots of different ways to do it, but being intentional about that skillset, that's huge.

NM : Absolutely. And thanks for sharing that. Let me be the first to say thank you so much for the podcast. Really enjoyed having you on as a guest. And I'll turn it over to Aram.

AD : Yeah, so many great takeaways. I'm going to echo what Nolan said, John, which is just thanks for taking the time. Thanks for everything, particularly that last piece. It is something we need to be intentional about developing our skills. I love the thinking strategically when things are uncertain versus doing what's comfortable. I love the piece about being a learn-it-all negotiator, taking that one to heart. And then I liked one of the last pieces there, which was when you talked about knowing when to lead and when to follow in a negotiation and those choices. So great takeaways, great examples. And yeah, we'll have to have you up to the handover here soon.

JL : Sounds good. Well, I appreciate what you guys are doing in terms of leading the charge and having these conversations with folks. It's of tremendous value in terms of providing people with some insights on a skillset that will be very determinative of people's success going forward and the ability to make a difference in the world and the way they want to.

NM : Thanks, John. That is it for us on today's podcast. If you haven't already, please rate review and subscribe to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. So we'll see it in the next episode.

Featured EpisodesWe host some of the smartest minds in business

Join The NEGOTIATEx Team.

It is our promise that we will deliver massive value to your inbox in the form of new content notifications, exclusive content and more. Join the team today.

    Contact Us