“Any negotiation has a limit.
Otherwise, war is irrelevant.”
“The trick to negotiation was to hold all the cards going in and, even if you didn’t, to try to look as though you did.”
I was also mortified this week.
I have run companies.
I have managed large groups of people.
I have met some of the best CEO’s imaginable.
I have discussed large organization culture, behavior alignment and strategic positioning.
I have been involved in some fairly complex and contentious multi-million dollar business negotiations.
I have seen some bad … and mostly have seen some good.
But what I have seen , 99% of time, were crafty negotiators and solid negotiation skills where a ‘win’ was always sought and an understanding that the other side also needs some version of their ‘win’ in order to have both sides walk away from the table invested enough to insure an ongoing successful deal.
I was mortified to think that America, who watched Donald J Trump as the healthcare ‘art of the deal’ negotiator, would start thinking that is how business is conducted at the C-level in business.
Frankly, after that performance I could see how any everyday schmuck sitting in some bar drinking a cold one could envision that everyday schmucks were negotiating and managing and leading the everyday large business direction.
I was embarrassed and mortified because this is not the way a real CEO negotiates and makes a deal.
I was embarrassed … and I imagine a shitload business people, better than I am, were also embarrassed.
While he showcased a laundry list of embarrassing attitudes with regard to how negotiating should occur, there were probably two aspects which were particularly heinous:
- Carrot and stick.
As soon as I see these words I think “old school 70’s thinker.” It is this simplistic tripe which makes today’s CEO … well … puke. It suggests you can bribe through some false incentivizing or bully through some sense of ‘threatening.’
Today’s business people can see through the ‘incentivizing’ and realize that a bribe is a bribe and the ‘incentive’ is a short term salve at best. Short term is for short term thinkers. Good negotiators think short term behavior is lazy <as well as dangerous> and that short term wins have little to no value.
As for threats?
Today’s business people see it and say “fuck you.” Threats provide clarity and inspire clarity to the one threatened. In today’s world a threat empowers the one receiving the threat. Maybe
In the 70’s this may have worked <although I doubt it> but in today’s world this isn’t negotiating … it simplistic bluster.
You can be tough in making a deal but bullying is never a viable tactic.
You can compromise in making a deal but ‘bribing’ is a fool’s errand.
Words matter maybe more than almost anything else and to believe that a word is simply a word and that a meeting of the minds resides solely in the words said … is … well … the thinking of an idiot <if not a naïve idiot>.
“We’re fascinated by the words–but where we meet is in the silence behind them.”
- Attention to <at least some> details.
Let’s be clear.
When you become a leader you know you cannot know everything.
Let’s be clear.
And that is where good negotiating resides … in how you resolve those two things at the same time.
You hire departments head, division presidents and specialists to know more than you do on their responsibility. But you have to know enough about what they do and what their knowledge is in order to be able to negotiate not only decisions but to manage the people in negotiation, and the discussions that occur, effectively.
Delegating all detail is fraught with peril and will never … NEVER … translate well into effective negotiating.
But let me point out the three unintended consequences of not investing yourself into the details as a negotiator:
- I care.
Without knowledge of details … well … it looks like you don’t care … or at least care as much as most of the other people around the negotiating table. Negotiating is always a dance between showing what you are negotiating is important but not so important that you could walk away. And that is where knowledge of detail gives you some breathing room with your attitude. Lots of detail shows lots of caring … which permits you to be … well … an asshole on occasion. You look like a competent asshole who actually cares about what is being negotiated. Without detail? You are just an asshole.
- I am personally invested.
Without knowledge of details it looks like you are skating on the superficial surface of whatever needs to be done. Suffice it to say that if there is no personal investment in a negotiation it can only be about price <or result … not what makes up the result>. This is exactly like a value equation. Personal investment adds value to the negotiation … no investment … no value. And, yes, you can win a negotiation and actually have little or no value beyond “I won.”
- I can negotiate fairly <without hollow promises>.
Without knowledge of details all you end up doing is saying what people want to hear, make promises you most likely have no right promising and ultimately … well … you cannot negotiate shit.
Negotiating is never about the win or the loss itself but rather the components of the win or loss. Negotiating is like building a big puzzle … and if you do not understand the pieces then the puzzle will never look right and often never gets completed.
What makes great negotiators great negotiators is consistent personal responsibility. That is at their core because great negotiations revolve around some semblance of trust — trust of each other with a win and trust of each other in loss. Great negotiators know that negotiating is not a transactional career … it is an ongoing resume of activity. The chain of activity <and the value you have earned as a negotiator> is broken the moment the negotiator doesn’t assume personal responsibility for the good & the bad.
Donald J Trump solidified my embarrassment last Friday when he said … “I would love to see it <Affordable Healthcare> do well, but it can’t.”
Donald J Trump is basically suggesting he is willing to fuck America.
Great negotiators don’t take their ball and go home if they lose. Rarely is a negotiation the final word on anything. And it is certainly not the final act in the negotiated play.
The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges in some states <with higher prices, insufficient insurer options & high deductibles> are quite fixable with some fairly easy specific tactics.
In fact … both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign proposed a slate of improvements <some of which Republicans actually like> to alleviate some of the affordability issues.
This would suggest “it can.”
And this would also suggest that of a negotiator said “it can’t” then … well … they were either not negotiating or they shouldn’t have been involved in the negotiation.
And if Donald J Trump was actually a good negotiator he would already know that the bill he was “100% supporting” actually has some of these components within it.
I was embarrassed by the so called ‘negotiating’ and the ‘art of the deal’ ineptness. I have read the Art of the Deal and it is like The Secret <another heinous excuse of a life/business guidance book> for negotiating – scraps of good ideas typically amplified into some tritisms and the rest bullshit.
I was embarrassed as a business guy watching a business guy being so inept at a moment in which we demand competency.
And I am now mortified that our so-called President & negotiator ‘par excellence’ would not want to proactively help Americans.
To be clear <attention Donald J Trump> … our national health plan is no long Obamacare … it is simply our health insurance system <of which he is responsible for>.
I believe in some hybrid version of universal healthcare in America <a hybrid system because America is not Europe and we have always created a solid capitalistic-socially beneficial system when driven to do so>.
I do so not because I am European, a bleeding heart liberal, a socialist or even because I believe it is the right of everyone to have healthcare but rather because I have run a company.
A healthy employee base is happier, shows up more often <less absenteeism>, is more energetic and, ultimately, more productive.
I have to envision the same logic applies to a citizenry <and add in the component that a healthier unemployed base is more likely to become employed … and a healthier poverty base is more likely to get out of poverty>.
Yes. These are not empathetic reasons … these are pragmatic reasons. These aren’t some simplistic “insurance will be cheaper and everyone will have it and we will not let people die on the streets” type reasons. This is about opportunity, equality and productivity. This is about maximizing the productivity of America.
It would seem to me that our so-called business President would recognize that all his job promises and economic growth promises and even his empty promises to the poor and inner cities would be more likely to succeed and the people able to contribute if they were happy and healthy.
Our current health care plan is far from perfect … but fixable.
Our current President is even farther from perfect … and I am not sure he is fixable.
All I really know is that this past week what America saw as “how great negotiating is done” is not how 99% of senior business people negotiate. It is much better than that.
It was embarrassing to watch.
While I do not support a full ‘repeal & replace’ option I do understand what the true supporters <the ones who want to create a policy not simply make a political point> desire. If I were a business president who actually liked winning and proof of results here is what I would have done:
- I would have shown everyone my desired end state of the market, services provided and what people would have.
- I would have then made a full repeal of Affordable Healthcare Act. 100%. Immediate. Now.
- I would have created a 2 year transition plan to show how I would bridge where we are now and where we want to go and insure people would not be ‘left behind’ but offered a path across the bridge.
- I would have created all the backroom deals with the insurance companies and laws to insure everyone knew the rules of engagement and rules of desired results <and shred some of that with the people so that insurance companies also assumed some responsibility>.
- I would have stated that my plan was to have everyone off that bridge in two years, and in the 4th year of my administration we would report on the state of the market, state of the services provided and a report card on how well insurance companies had fulfilled their responsibilities to the people.
<but that’s me … just a business guy who hates this idea>