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Key Takeaways

  • It's important to distinguish between confidence and overconfidence (cockiness) in negotiations. Proper planning can enhance confidence, leading to better outcomes. Authenticity is also crucial, and individuals should find negotiation techniques that align with their personal style.
  • Being aware of and able to disarm discovered tactics is a valuable skill. This involves recognizing negotiation tactics and responding to them in a measured, non-emotional way.
  • Dealing with challenging tactics effectively can involve openly acknowledging the tactic in a friendly, non-confrontational manner, which can help to neutralize its impact.
  • Effective negotiation also involves managing internal teams and stakeholders, especially when conducting external negotiations. A collaborative approach, where goals and strategies are aligned and internal stakeholders are engaged in the negotiation process, can be beneficial.
  • Underestimating the market or lacking market insight can lead to unfavorable negotiation outcomes. It's important to be proactive, well-prepared, and have a thorough understanding of the market dynamics.
  • Recognizing and respecting cultural differences is key in global negotiations. This includes adapting communication styles, using humor appropriately, and understanding cultural trends without stereotyping.
  • With the increasing use of digital platforms for negotiations, it’s important to adapt to these technologies and understand how to interpret digital cues, such as body language, in virtual settings.
  • Negotiations should be viewed as part of a long-term strategy focused on mutual benefit and collaboration. This approach emphasizes understanding each other's needs and working together for mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Being sensitive to the nuances of different communication channels and adapting negotiation styles to fit different contexts, whether in-person or virtual, is crucial for successful negotiations.

Executive Summary:

Hey everyone, welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Mike Inman, renowned negotiation trainer and managing partner at Table Force.

In part A, Mike shared the three fundamental negotiation principles: effort, planning, and high expectations, emphasizing the need for preparation and aiming for exceptional outcomes. He also discussed navigating refusals, leveraging rejections, and understanding the nuances of B2B negotiations, differentiating them from crisis situations. 

Additionally, he highlighted the importance of emotional intelligence and authenticity, underlining how initial resistance in negotiations can lead to better deals. We strongly recommend that you check out Part A if you haven’t already. 

Now, without any further ado, let’s jump into part B.

Negotiation Nuances: Balancing Confidence, Authenticity, And Strategic Tactic Management

Mike resumes the discussion with Nolan and Aram by highlighting the importance of confidence, differentiating it from cockiness. He suggests that better planning can enhance confidence, which in turn leads to better negotiation outcomes. He also underlines the necessity of authenticity in negotiation, advising people to find techniques that work best for them and acknowledging that one may not be proficient in all tactics.

Additionally, Mike sheds light on a tactic known as ‘disarming a discovered tactic’ and gives an example involving a late-night radio DJ voice. The idea is to be aware of tactics so one can respond appropriately rather than emotionally.

Aram then inquires about dealing with difficult or ‘dirty’ tactics in negotiations. In response, Mike shares a strategy learned from MIT: openly acknowledging the tactic being used. This approach involves a friendly, non-confrontational acknowledgment, which can help disarm the tactic.

Strategies For Managing Teams And Stakeholders

Next, Aram discusses the challenges of managing internal teams and stakeholders while simultaneously negotiating external deals. He then asks Mike for insights into how one can effectively handle these concurrent negotiations. 

The latter responds by sharing insights from his experiences and evolving strategies for effective negotiation management. Early in his career, Mike likened managing internal customers to playing a game of “Whack-a-Mole.” He faced challenges such as internal stakeholders inadvertently leaking information or prematurely confirming deals with suppliers, undermining his negotiation leverage. 

To counter this, Mike adopted a more collaborative approach. He began holding upfront meetings with internal teams to align goals and strategies. In these meetings, Mike would engage internal stakeholders by highlighting the mutual benefits of successful negotiations, such as budget relief or savings that could be reallocated within their departments. 

This approach made internal stakeholders more willing to cooperate, as they saw personal benefits in the negotiation outcomes. He emphasized the importance of not disclosing negotiation details to suppliers prematurely and coached internal teams to maintain a strategic front during negotiations.

Overall, Mike’s approach involved making internal stakeholders active participants rather than passive observers in the negotiation process. He educated them about negotiation plans, techniques, and tools, helping them understand and appreciate the process. This transparency and involvement made internal stakeholders more engaged and supportive of the negotiation process.

The Pitfalls Of Underestimation And Lack Of Market Insight

When asked about a failed negotiation, Mike mentions the importance of being proactive and prepared. He recounts a situation involving a company that leased rack space for warehouse storage. 

When Mike’s team sought a price decrease from the supplier, they were initially met with refusal. Most other suppliers at the time were offering concessions, but this particular supplier stood firm.

As the lease’s expiration date approached, Mike’s team revisited the request for a price decrease, assuming that the impending deadline and the possibility of them finding another supplier would pressure the supplier into conceding. However, three weeks before the lease was due to expire, the supplier not only refused to decrease the price but announced an increase instead.

Mike admits that they failed to adequately research the market and overestimated their leverage. They did not realize that there were no viable competitors in the area who could provide the same service within the required timeframe, nor did they consider the logistical challenges of moving 400,000 square feet of stored material. 

This lack of preparation and market insight led to them being cornered into accepting a price increase.

The story highlights the risks of not being sufficiently proactive or informed in negotiations. It serves as a lesson in the importance of thorough research and understanding market dynamics to avoid being placed in a disadvantageous position.

Understanding Cultural Nuances And Adapting Communication Styles

Subsequently, Nolan asks Mike to share his insights on navigating cultural differences in global negotiations.

Mike responds by highlighting the role of humor and the nuances of navigating cultural differences in negotiation. He emphasizes the importance of building relationships and using humor to create a more relaxed and effective negotiation environment.

Mike strongly believes that when it comes to cultural negotiations, it’s important not to stereotype, recognizing certain trends and being respectful of them is crucial. He recounts an experience of negotiating in the Middle East and the feedback he received for using the term “haggling,” which he argues is a common and accepted practice in many cultures. 

He also mentions an interaction with a participant from the Middle East in a workshop in Italy, illustrating how cultural self-perception can influence negotiation skills.

Mike particularly enjoys negotiating in the Netherlands and Germany due to their direct communication style. He contrasts this with negotiating in the UK, where the process can take longer due to a more polite and indirect communication style. He recommends the book “Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands” to understand global business’s cultural nuances.

Further, Mike advises being aware of cultural adaptability. People from different cultures may have been educated elsewhere or adapted to other cultures, leading to a blend of negotiation styles. He practices asking for permission to enter into another’s cultural space during negotiations, which aids in relationship building.

Mike concludes by stressing the importance of getting a second opinion on negotiation plans from someone with a different perspective, preferably someone who represents the profile of the other side of the negotiation. This approach helps in understanding how the other party might perceive the negotiation. 

He also highlights the significance of adapting communication styles to fit different cultures, sharing his practice of immersing himself in the local language and culture when traveling internationally for negotiations.

Navigating Virtual Platforms And Interpreting Digital Cues In Negotiations

Moving on, Mike discusses the integration of technology into negotiations and the importance of adapting to changing communication modalities, such as Zoom, Teams, and other digital platforms.

He highlights the importance of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, especially as technology rapidly evolves. He urges the listeners to build extra time into their schedules to accommodate technical difficulties and to familiarize themselves with different platforms’ settings and features. For instance, he acknowledges his own need to adapt to Microsoft Teams, as he is more comfortable with Zoom.

Mike also touches on the nuances of interpreting body language in virtual settings versus in-person meetings. He notes that certain cues, like crossed arms, can be interpreted differently depending on the context, which is more challenging to discern in a virtual environment. 

He expresses a preference for in-person negotiations, where more clues about a person’s reactions and intentions can be gathered, followed by Zoom, phone, and email, in that order.

Interestingly, Mike brings up texting in negotiations, perceiving it as a more personal form of communication. He suggests that transitioning a negotiation to text messages might indicate a stronger relationship, as texts are typically reserved for closer contacts. He contrasts this with emails, which are more accessible and less personal.

Overall, the discussion highlights the importance of being versatile and sensitive to the nuances of different communication channels in negotiations.

Fostering Long-Term Collaboration For Mutual Growth

As the discussion draws to a close, Mike reflects on the essence of negotiation as a long-term strategy rather than a one-time transaction. He highlights the importance of approaching negotiations with a mindset of mutual benefit and collaboration. 

Mike suggests starting negotiations with an openness to say “yes” and a willingness to work through challenges together. This approach involves understanding each other’s needs and working cooperatively rather than combatively.

Mike advocates for growing the pie together, where both parties aim to improve and understand each other for a more fruitful outcome. He stresses the significance of considering the long-term relationship and potential future negotiations rather than focusing solely on winning the current deal.

Aram echoes this sentiment, highlighting the ongoing nature of negotiations and the importance of maintaining a good relationship for future interactions.

Mike, 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 Mike Inman, managing partner at Table Force. If you haven't already checked out part A of the show, be sure to do that first. Let's jump into the conversation with Mike.

Strategic Negotiation: Balancing Confidence, Authenticity, And Tactical Knowledge [00:58]

Mike Inman : Negotiations is a confidence game. Is it an art? Is it a science? There's yes to both of those, but those who are more confident and there's a difference between confident and cocky. Planning better gives you more confidence. You will produce better results when you're more confident versus someone who isn't confident.

Now, we can take people who aren't confident and show them how to plan better, to do better, to increase their confidence. It's probably easier to do that than taking a really cocky person and leveling them down because they're going to be more comfortable winging it.

We see all different types of personalities. I tell people, you got to be authentic. You can't be me. I can't be you. Find the tools and techniques that work the best for you. In a negotiator's toolkit, there's 20 plus tactics and you're not going to be good at all of them. Now you're going to be proficient at most of them after you've taken training and gotten a lot of experience, but that's okay. We kind of clinging to the things that work well for us.

One of the things I talked about people in our sessions is a tactic discovered is a tactic disarmed just like the late night radio DJ voice. So even if you would never use a technique or tactic knowing that it exists so that then you can react appropriately versus react emotionally is a good positive thing for your negotiation outcome.

Aram Donigian : Let's dig into that too. Given your vast experience across many different industries, what are some of the dirtiest tactics that you've seen or just challenging tactics doesn't even have to be dirty. Maybe that's a bias to say that it is. And how do you disarm? What's your approach when you notice somebody is doing something intentionally to disrupt upset the negotiation? Why do you respond?

MI : I learned this at MIT to call it out, Jared, I forget Jared's last name, the professor there, he says to just call out the technique and you don't have to do it in a mean way. Like say, Hey, I noticed that you're using that against me. You can say, Hey, have you taken a negotiation class? Now, most people are proud of the training that they've had and certainly that someone would recognize it. So they'll probably go, well, yes I have. Then you can say, you notice, I noticed you used that time against me, that tactic on using time. Did you plan for that? That was good.

So you're almost making light of a tactic that they put into play to disarm it, and you can go the other way, but I always choose to be friendly first in a negotiation versus being hard line. I've been the hard line guy way too often in my career, way too early in my career, and I've just learned if we can just smile, if we can agree that we want to get to yes, we're not there yet, let's put some cards on the table.

Let's see if we can make this a good deal for both sides. Let's stop these techniques and tactics. Maybe you can get a better deal faster. I do have one story about that. At MGM, we were told by the board, the CEO was told by the board, they were tired of hearing that SANS was the best at player database marketing in the industry.

Now, SANS is one of our competitors. They're really good at what they do, and we decided the strategic plan here. This is the CIO, the CMO and me got together and we put together this plan to leapfrog SANS and this was the plan. We were going to copy what they were doing. We were going to find the exact same supplier they were using and we were going to just leapfrog where they were. So we had policy, you have to have three bids, and we also wanted to make sure that we were listening to what's going on in the market.

So we bring in this company Unica, who was with SANS, and we bring in, I'm sorry, it wasn't SANS, it was Caesars at the time. We bring in their biggest competitor, Aprimo, and we bring in SAP. It wasn't really in the space, but at least they had a product offering. Now, keep in mind the board has said, get this done. So we knew what we were doing. We arranged some meetings, we brought them all in. So weeks have gone by. Now Unica comes in, they give a great presentation, Aprimo the same, but we're going with Unica because that's what we decided to do.

Now, as we prep for the negotiation, we're doing our homework, we're doing our research, and the director of IT that was assigned to it comes into my office and she says, Mike, look at this. Hands me a press release.

The press release was this, the president of Unica, CEO of Unica was shutting down his company and taking everyone to go see the movie 21, bringing down the house, the movie about the card counters at MIT. Now, he was doing that because he was in the movie, and I don't mean as an actor, when he was at MIT, he was in the card counting ring to bring down the house. So now we've got a situation where he's got 40% of the player data. We're about to give him another 40% of the player data on the strip, and he's got this reputation out there for not exactly playing nicely with casinos. So now we very quickly have to figure out what's plan B? What's our plan now? So our plan B was let's get Aprimo, their biggest competitor and let's do a deal with them and challenge them to be better than their competition, just like we're trying to be better than our competition.

But the clock is now against us because the next board meeting has come up. So I said, I'm going to try technique. I called in their lead negotiator and I said, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you an office down the hall, and I want you to go in there and I want you to write down your top three deal points, not your open position target, bottom line, but the three key things that you need in a deal with us, and I'm going to do the same and after half hour we're going to meet and we're going to change papers and we're going to see if this deal can come together or not.

And sure enough, at the end of a half hours, one of our key deal points, we were almost bankrupt at the time, was zero startup cost. And one of their key deal points was not upfront payment, but rather high year five revenue.

So, I asked the question, I said, help me to understand what do you mean by high year five revenue? You didn't say year 1, 2, 3, 4, and oh, by the way, year five, that's a long deal. He said, Mike, here's why we based all of our renewals off the last year of the deal. And I said, a little bit of scare tactic. How dare you assume that you're going to get a renewal? You haven't even won the first deal.

And he said, Mike, listen, we know that once somebody integrates with us, once they use us, our customer retention is off the charts. You're not going to pay to change. You're going to renew with us in five years.

And that deal came together in three days, which was a very complicated agreement because we cluttered through all the low value stuff that didn't really matter to both sides. We aligned. Could we make the high value stuff align? It could. And that deal came together. The board was super happy and away we go. So there was a tactic that I put into play. The sharing of information develops trust, and you have to have trust to have a good relationship and a good negotiation.

AD : Yeah, we often talk about information is the currency of negotiation and it's much easier, not that it happens all the time to operate in an environment of trust that there's actually tangible value. That's a nice example, especially is talking about a difficult situation. Your skill in shifting the process and finding that what was important to you. Those low startup cuts weren't in conflict with what was most important to them. Amazing how that worked.

MI : I made an assumption in that that they would want high startup costs because we were almost bankrupt. So in my brain, and I haven't done a full debrief with them, I've done a little debrief just through LinkedIn getting caught up during COVID. Did they assume that we didn't have any money to pay them? So they weren't even going to ask, they were just going to move right past something that was higher value to them. I don't know.

AD : In the stories you've given so far, we referenced this earlier, I want to come back to it. I mean, you're talking a lot about I got to keep managing my internal team, the internal stakeholders, the challenges involved there while I'm trying to work these external deals. Talk to us a little bit about how you do, I mean, those are simultaneous negotiations that are occurring. How do you manage that effectively.

Evolving Negotiation Strategies: From 'Whack-a-Mole' Management To Collaborative Leverage [9:22]

MI : Well, early in my career, it was like the whack-a-mole game, managing the internal customers. I was the buyer. I had ethics policies. I purposely wouldn't go out with suppliers unless it was to their facility. I didn't do a lot of lunches with them. I just don't like the perception that I could be influenced in some way. And I told my customers, you're going to go out with them, that's fine. And they would be leaking information when we had to make a decision by or that they already had the order. I have an email somewhere in my records where somebody in it sent an email to the supplier, you've won the business, now talk to purchasing. Really, you're taking away my leverage here. So what I learned to do instead of playing Whack-a-mole trying to contain all my internal customers is to have upfront meetings.

As I moved jobs, as I took on new functions, have a meeting with the internal user community and say, I'd start the meeting like this. I'd say, Hey, did you guys get all your budget approved for this year? Everybody get their full budget approved, and I know no one's going to say yes. No one gets their full budget approved. So people would shake their heads and I'd say, darn, that sucks.

So listen, if we can find some savings, and I went to finance and said that you helped produce the savings, that finance should give you some budget relief because you contributed to the negotiation. Would that be of high value to you? And you'd see their eyes light up and they'd go, oh my gosh, you'd do that for us? And I'd say, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll do that for you. I don't care who gets the money.

My job as a purchasing person is to create value, and it's measured in cost savings largely, but there's other ways to create value in purchasing. But whatever you do save, finance should get to decide how that money's spent. So I will be your champion. I will say they should give it to you, but it doesn't really matter to me. So they'd say, yeah, that'd be amazing if you could do that. I say, okay, here's what I need in return, when we're sourcing some business, do not tell the suppliers that they have the business.

Don't tell the suppliers, ah, don't worry about Mike and his team. I'll take care of them. Don't say that. I want you to have a good relationship. I want you to be the good cop that's important for the long-term relationship between our companies. And I want you to say things like that Mike Guy, he's tough.

You better please him and his team, or he's going to make this deal really hard to push across the finish line. So I would almost coach them to let me be the bad cop, let my team be the bad cop so that we could jointly produce some value for the company. And then I would go to finance and say, yeah, give them some budget relief. They contributed to that. So then it was something that my internal customers wanted to participate in versus having to, because Mike told me that I should. So it's almost you want to pull 'em into the process because they want to be there.

Then a lot of them, because not a lot of people have been trained in negotiating. They think that it's just this thing that happens, but when you show them that you've actually got a plan, that you've got techniques and tools that you're going to use, they're like, oh my gosh, I didn't know you could do that. I didn't know that was planned. Yeah, yeah. I'm planning all this stuff out. And when you let them behind the scenes, they actually start to enjoy the process specifically that the lead negotiator will be doing it. But when they have insight as to when and why and how you're going to do something, they start to enjoy negotiating as well.

AD : I love that power of pulling people into the process. What a shift versus when they feel like they're just being brought along for the ride. We often talk about segmenting our stakeholders and really treating 'em in different categories and saying, who just needs to know? Because they might have to help with implementation.

Who's the subject matter expert we can actually bring and say, Hey, we need your expertise. We need your insights. We need to know your concern. And then who are the decision makers and the respect that can be shown between doing some segmentation and then intentional managing as you're talking about, can be so….

MI : Proactively, intentionally managing. Yeah, you've got to get out in front of it.

AD : Yeah, we can probably spend more time. That goes back to being persevering, but the proactive piece versus getting caught. I'm curious. No, I keep jumping you. Have you ever wait, we feel like we could ask you this now. Mike ever had a failed negotiation and maybe it was the result of not being proactive enough or prepared enough or something. Do you mind going there that's really vulnerable? Say, have you ever had a shared one and what was your lessons learned?

Navigating Challenges And Cultural Differences In Global Negotiations [13:46]

MI : Anybody who tells you they haven't had a failure is lying, especially in negotiating. My biggest, the nastiest failure that I had was we had a company that we leased rack space front. It's not a glamorous industry, but somebody's got to put shelves up and store it. And we had a whole warehouse, I dunno, 400,000 square feet in the racks, and I forget how it started, but we wanted a price decrease.

We were trying to reduce our costs, and the supplier said, no. And all, I shouldn't say all of nearly every supplier I can remember was granting us some form of concession. And the supplier said, no, the lease was going to expire in a year. And I said, all right, fine. We'll deal with it then. So we continue paying the monthly bills and we're getting closer and closer to the year end lease.

I said, you know what? Let's go ask 'em again for a decrease because now that time is getting close. The end of this, they'll think that we've got competition and maybe they'll give us a concession. So we get three weeks from the expiration of the lease and we ask them, where's that price decrease that we've been for? And they said, yeah, you're not getting a decrease. In fact, you're getting an increase.

And we said we could replace you. And they said, no, you can't. We didn't do our homework. There wasn't A competition in their area that could… B get their stuff out and get our new stuff in. And by the way, we'd have to take all 400,000 square feet and find space for all that stuff. We got jammed with a price increase because we got a little heavy handed and didn't do our research well enough on the market.

NM : Appreciate you sharing that, Mike. I know that's a kind of always vulnerable thing, but I'd like to go ahead and ask a question before Aram asks another one.

MI : Please.

NM : With your global negotiation experience, what advice can you offer for navigating cultural differences in negotiations?

AD : And that's a great question, Nolan, we try to joke around a little bit. I'm sure we can talk about the role of humor. So I'll shut up because that was a great question.

Navigating Cultural Nuances In Negotiation [15:46]

MI : Role of humor is important. We should build relationships and laugh with each other throughout the process if at all possible. So my take on cultural negotiations is this. I don't like to stereotype people, but there are trends we have to be respectful of. I told a story one time about negotiating in the market in the Middle East, and we get anonymous feedback at the end of every one of our sessions.

And somebody said it was rude that I said I was haggling in a market, and that was rude and disrespectful to assume that people in the Middle East haggle. The voice in my head said, have you not been outside the United States?

Some of these other cultures, it's not disrespectful to say they haggle. They like to haggle. In fact, I had a guy from the Middle East in a session I did in Italy, and I started off by saying, Hey, are you a good negotiator? How do you feel about negotiations? And this guy said, I'm not a very good negotiator. That's why I'm here. I'm here to learn. At the end, he did best or second best in every single role play we did. So I said, you started off by saying you're not a good negotiator. Why?

And he said, well, in my culture, I get abused all the time. I get beat up all the time. So in my culture, I'm not a very good negotiator, but against these people, I guess I'm pretty good. So some of it's on a relative basis. I happen to really like negotiating in the Netherlands, in Germany, some of the people in that area of the world, they're very direct. When I'm in Schiphol airport and I'm in a little bit early and I want to catch an earlier flight, if I go up to the desk and I say, Hey, can I get on the earlier flight?

They type the keys, why? They don't have point and click like we do. I don't know. They'll type the keys and they'll say it's not possible. And what that means in the Netherlands is it is not possible. You are not getting on that flight. Just go to the sky club and hang out. Now in the US or in the UK, if you talk to the first person and say, Hey, can I get on the earlier flight? And they'll say, I'm sorry, it's not available, then I'll say, well, can I talk to a red coat?

Can I talk to the manager? Can I call the 800 number? I will call someone else because chances are someone else can grant me an exception to the boarding rule. But in the Netherlands, they don't grant exceptions like that. And they will tell you directly. Now, when I'm negotiating in the UK, I have to be very careful.

We speak the same language. We fight wars together, but we have very different cultures. People in the UK tend to be a little more polite. They have a harder time saying, no. They'll go silent. They'll dance around the issue, but they won't just say, Mike, that's not going to happen. So what happens when I'm negotiating in the UK is I have to build in more time negotiating because it takes longer to find out that it's an actual no. Whereas in the Netherlands, it's 30 seconds to find out no.

So there's the Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands book that I recommend to people. It's been 15 years since I've read that. One thing is we get into this multi globalism is sometimes somebody from one area of the world will have either gone to school in another area and picked up on some of their tendencies or traits, or they will have read Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands and they'll try to adapt to your style as you're trying to adapt to their style.

So sometimes I found myself recently saying, allow me to be Dutch. Allow me to be British. I'm asking their permission to enter into their cultural space, traditional, stereotypical space and take on that role. And that's some relationship building too. In fact, some people that I did a session for in the Netherlands, I used the word direct and somebody stopped me and they said, thank you. Most people say we're mean. We are just being honest. And I thought, wow. Yeah, I can see why people would think they're mean, but I appreciate it. So hopefully that touched enough on that topic.

AD : Yeah, I think just the awareness, I appreciate so much, right? I got to be aware of maybe some cultural generalities that I want to test. And then the ability to talk about those things. I've always said the ability to talk about how we're maybe particularly different actually is an indicator how strong the relationship is.

MI : Listen, when I create a plan, a negotiation plan, I always want a second set of eyes on it. I'm never perfect. And anybody who says they're, they're lying too. So I take my plan and I'll find somebody to look at it. Now, what I don't want is another person with an engineering background that's from the United States and has been in supply chain because their cognitive bias is going to be too similar to my cognitive bias. I want to find somebody if I can, and it's hard to do, sometimes that resembles the profile of the other side of the negotiation so that I can see it through their eyes. And bad news early is good news. I want to find how they see something before I actually present it to them. Communications is not what I say, it's what you hear. So I want to make sure I'm using the correct words when I go.

I'm booking an international trip right now, and I always go one day early, especially where English is a second language, and I talk to everybody. I talk to the person at the taxi stand, I talk to the taxi driver, I talk to the hotel desk clerk. I talk to everybody that possibly can because I want to change my language to fit their culture. How quickly do they speak English? I talk fast when I'm talking to an English speaker, I have to slow down sometimes in English as a second language countries in the US I say. My kids went to college in the UK, they went to university. So I'm trying to change my language so that it's the easiest to communicate with them as possible. What a

AD : Great takeaway. It's not what I say, it's what you hear is the real key to communication.

NM : And Mike, you had mentioned plan, I know, earlier in the conversation you said that you want to help people create a plan that could possibly be on the back of a business card. I kind of want to dig into that real fast as to what you recommend goes on that for planning.

Leveraging Digital Tools For Enhanced Negotiation Outcomes [21:47]

MI : So that's a yield and shield. Lemme see if I have one here yet. I've drawn this out for somebody else right there. It could be that simple, the stuff you're willing to give, the stuff you got to have. We had a client that measured the results. And one of the nice things about Table Force, I brought them in over the years to teach my purchasing teams, is there's a measurable improvement, quantifiable post session return on investment.

So they were measuring and they found something very strange. There was a class to get salespeople price increases, and they came back and they said, why is it that people conduct their negotiations on Zoom, have a measurable improvement over people who conduct their negotiations in person? And that did not make sense to us. I want to be in person. I want to gather all the clues. I want to gather the body language.

I want to gather the pictures on someone's wall. I want to be at their office. Why a person that was negotiating in Zoom would have an advantage. We couldn't figure it out. So we did a lot of interviews, and here's what we found. The negotiators that were negotiating in person at the client's office would create their negotiation plan, put it in their briefcase or tuck it in their pocket, go in and negotiate.

But their plan was not on the table, not on the desk in front of them. The negotiators that were negotiating in Zoom were writing out their plan, putting it on their monitor, and as they were talking, negotiating, their plan was in front of them. So imagine the power of just not only planning, but having your plan out front and center produced a measurable lift.

AD : Well, you're getting to the next question, Mike, which is, you've been doing this for a bit, technology is changing rapidly. You mentioned Zoom. We know there's a number of different modalities in which negotiations take place today that it was not the case 20 years ago. We know AI is showing up. What's your advice when it comes to the integration, implementation, adoption of this changing world of technology and how it impacts the negotiations you're involved in?

Embracing Flexibility And Understanding Communication Nuances [23:47]

MI : That's a great question, and we experienced it ourselves right here. The audience doesn't know it, but I had trouble getting in, tried several different times and techniques and tools and finally had to shut the whole thing down. And lord behold, I'm here. I tell people this is more of a life lesson. I coach a lot of younger professionals get comfortable being uncomfortable, and part of that process is building a little extra time like you guys did for me.

Part of it is going into Zoom early, checking your settings. And for me, I struggle with teams in Zoom. I'm very comfortable with it. All the settings, everything always looks the same for the way my mind operates. Team is [inaudible]. My mind just doesn't operate the way teams does, so I have to go in and make sure my camera is set properly and the mic's set up and then people move around and I forget how you do a breakout room in teams. I do 'em in Zoom all the time. So to put a little effort in ahead of time to make sure your stuff works, to make sure that's part of your planning process is a good healthy thing. I could probably do a better job on that given the mistake that we had this morning.

NM : We won’t hold it against you, Mike.

MI : Yeah, no, but again, no one's perfect and now I've learned that I should do that. I should check the link ahead of time.

NM : Well, it all worked out, so it's all good. We won't beat you up about it.

MI : So let me do one thing on this because it comes up occasionally in our, I talk about body language. So when I'm in the room with a person and their arms are crossed, what I always tell people is look up, see are they underneath an air unit where they're getting cold air blown on 'em or are they closed? Those are two different things, but you can verify that in the real world, in Zoom, in the internet world, if I'm sitting here like this, you have no idea why my arms are crossed, and you can't tell unless you can ask me directly, but I may or may not tell you the truth. Am I cold or am I closed? So that's why my bias is I want to be in person. I get more clues in an in-person negotiation that I do over, well, it's kind of weird in-person first.

Then I'll do Zoom where I can get the visual clues phone next, I'll get some clues on how their voice is going, email if I have to. But then there's this thing - a text, and even though the text has the least amount of clues, to me it almost becomes personal. I only text my friends. So once somebody shifts a negotiation into a text message, I go, Ooh, we have a relationship here. If they just wanted to tell me no, they would've done it in email. You can be more brutal in email, but I don't know, that's my cognitive bias. The text feels more personal than email or even phone sometimes. How do you guys feel about that? You see a lot of this too.

AD : In fact, Nolan and I would probably talk about if we're going to build the old good old fashioned two by two strength, the relationship complexity of the issue should drive or sometimes does drive the modality in which it makes sense. So we have a strong relationship. Maybe text makes more sense, especially if it's not highly complex. If there's more to explain, text is going to be difficult even in a strong relationship. Sure, it might need to shift it. Yeah. Nolan, anything you'd add there?

NM : No, I think that kind of covered both those things, and I think it goes to comfortability knowing the person that you're going to negotiate with. Maybe you already obviously have that relationship established, so it's like, Hey, I may not be portraying exactly what I mean via this text, but hopefully you get the gist.

MI : But in the email world, you can get into someone's email box, no problem, as long as you make it past the spam filter. But to get into a text, you have to be in their contact list. They've had to put the effort in to move you into a contact or type the numbers in anyway. To me, it's just a gut feeling. I have no evidence on this. It's just gut instinct says now we have a little bit of a relationship once it shifts into text.

NM : So outside of negotiations, what activities or hobbies or family or anything like that do you believe has contributed to your success as a negotiator?

Blending Passions And Profession [27:52]

MI : Well, I like to travel internationally a lot. Really high on my list of things to do. I like to learn about new people. So being inquisitive, just like I learned about negotiations and it took my career, I learned to teach negotiations. I thought I loved what I did when I was in purchasing. Turns out I just liked it. I was good at it, but I love what I do now. Back to my engineering background, problem solving and critical thinking exercises. I do Sudoku and I've even got my wife who's a librarian, she used to hate numbers, but now she's doing Sudoku. I like to solve problems and I like to make one plus one equal three in a negotiation.

How do we take what's there and what's boring? And sometimes it is what it is, but how do we make it even better? I get juiced up when I take something that could have been normal and I make it better. So there's that. And then I've got two kids, a 22-year-old and a 20-year-old. They're taking off in life. And then I've got some friends. We play beach volleyball. And back to your top gun comment that you made earlier. Yeah, it was very influential. That was the time in my life Top Gun had come out, and then I went to California to school, so that was part of that big push in beach volley.

AD : Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Alright, Mike, this has been a fabulous conversation and we're going to get ready to wrap up here. What haven't we asked you today that you'd like to leave with our listeners? A final thought or key takeaway?

Negotiation As A Long-Term Strategy [29:07]

MI : I guess the key thought is, while the negotiations that we've talked about might begin with no to enter it into, Hey, listen, I'd really like to get to yes with you. There's a lot of challenges we have to overcome. I'm willing to put the effort in to do that. Are you willing to do the same and enter it into that as we grow this pie, make this deal bigger.

I'm willing to do better. If you're willing to do better and to understand each other, understand each other's needs, instead of this being combative, how do we decide to work with each other, even if it's a yin and yang and align what the end goal is to say, listen, five years from now when we're in a contract renewal, we'll be negotiating again. To have that begin with the end in mind I think is a good positive thing. You're not trying to win the deal today. You're trying to win lots of deals for the long term.

AD : And what a great note to end on. I was going to go back to what you said about the power of a no, I love where you said a good negotiator, their job doesn't end just when the deal gets signed. You've got this longer view, the implementation, how this gets executed, and the fact that we will be most likely back at the table together at some point. That's in our thinking too.

MI : We've got to be thinking, I'm going to see this person again, and I hope to see you guys again. Listen, thank you. It's been a pleasure being on the show.

AD : Thanks. I'm going to pass it over to no and wrap us up.

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

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