Negotiation Challenge Prepare to be challenged!

Be more like Roger than Rafa

Many negotiators find an approach, a methodology, a suite of behaviours that works for them, and stick to them. Why wouldn't you?

Well, because it makes you predictable, that's why.

Here's what Rafa Nadal does before a match:
  • He has a freezing cold shower 45 minutes before the match.
  • He wears both socks at the same height.
  • He always places his bottles in the same exact position.
  • He carries one racket onto the court, and five rackets in his bag.
  • He ensures his opponent crosses the net before he does during a changeover.
  • He places his hair behind his ear and fiddles with his shorts or underwear before each serve.
  • He sips his energy drink and then his water, always in the same order.
  • He uses a towel after every single point.
  • He never rises from his seat before his opponent.
  • He avoids walking on the sidelines.
  • He doesn't put his headband on until just before he enters the court.

Critically, these behaviours empower Nadal, as he feels that he is in control. It is true that the other party can predict Nadal's actions exactly. But when he comes to serve? Well, he is harder to read, and that is what counts.

When you negotiate, by all means adopt preparatory routines that make you feel empowered or in the zone (Nadal's explanation for the cold shower). But don't be predictable, as the second or third time the other party encounters you, they will be watching for patterns or repeating behaviours.

This article explores AI analysis of three top tennis players, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer in order to predict their next shot:

"It needs about three matches to figure out a player's style. Once it has got those three matches it is pretty solid," Denman said. The algorithm was mimicking the brains of the top players who were already trying to predict their opponent's next shot.

So in three matches, the AI algorithm can predict a player's next shot!

While the artificial intelligent system proved successful, its biggest challenge was the unpredictability of the "Greatest Of All Time" player.

Be like Roger. Be unpredictable.

"We had an analysis of how accurate it is for those three top players -- Djokovic, Nadal and Federer," Denman said. "And it was least accurate for Federer, who is perhaps the most versatile. It struggled the most to predict him. He can do anything, so the model was more often wrong about him," he said.

How to use reason to persuade others

In this 90 second Fast Idea I explore the use of reason as a way of persuading others, and explain how to use facts, data and logic most effectively

How to make a great first impression!

In this 90 second Fast Idea, I explore how we can behave in the first 90 seconds of meeting someone in order to make a great first impression

Negotiation Plan on a Page #1

If the only negotiation planning that you did was to define the 'what 'and the 'how' it would be a start! The reality is that some negotiation planning gets lost in a sea of detail, and loses focus on the 'big picture'. I'm old fashioned and I like to print out the plan. The benefit is that I can keep eye contact with the other party, and scribble notes as they respond. If you prefer to keep things on a screen, great. But where are your eyes when the other party makes a counter proposal? When you are taking notes? Maybe delegate one team member to take notes, but make sure everyone is on the same page. Literally!

Here is a link to a simple negotiation plan on a page. It's nothing special, but it works at the table, as it allows you to see all the key information as an aide memoire while you are negotiating. Here are some simple tips:
  1. Objective number; you will have a number of objectives, enter the number of each one
  2. Variable; what is the negotiable issue ? It might be term, the liability clause, the warranty period etc
  3. Session lead; who is leading this session?
  4. Marker; if the other party asks "what are you looking for?", what are you going to say?
  5. Agenda item; what agenda item is this issue?
  6. WOW!; what is the very best target outcome that you might possibly achieve on this variable
  7. 1% movement is worth?; enter a dollar value here if appropriate to give a sense of scale
  8. Realistic; what is the target outcome that you realistically expect to achieve on this variable
  9. Criticality to us?; Enter High, medium or low as appropriate. A reminder of the importance of this issue
  10. Walk away; what is the target outcome that you can just accept on this variable?
  11. Logic motivators; what are the facts, data and logic that support the other party moving towards your objective?
  12. Emotion motivators; how will you impact the other party's feelings towards you so that they move towards your objective?
  13. Bargaining; what are the concessions that you might exchange in order to help the other party move towards your objective?
  14. Compromise; what might be your concession behaviour if you move from your initial position to help achieve your objective?
  15. Power; what are the negative consequences that may help motivate the other party to move towards your objective?
  16. Notes; you can record in this section what transpired during the negotiation so that you have a record.