January 9, 2017

Should you go first in a negotiation, or wait and counter? It’s an age-old question that generates much debate among negotiation experts and lay people alike. My take? In virtually all cases, I prefer to go first. Here are three reasons why:

1. Anchoring

This is a concept that is rooted in vast psychological research that teaches us that the first proposal in a deal tends to fix the mind on that proposal, for both sides, for the duration of the negotiation. Studies also show that the more ambitious (read “higher”) the number, the better the outcome for that party. So unless I have inadequate information to make an offer – in which case I seek to learn more – or it is their proposal and one I have little information about, I look to go first t...

January 2, 2017

You have two primary goals when looking to persuade an audience: (1) to illustrate why they should care about your subject, idea or proposal and (2) to minimize the surface area for them to object. The way you position things, the tone and words you choose, and your approach to gaining consensus will be the critical factors in deciding the outcome.

The cardinal rule in doing so? Make it nearly impossible for them to disagree with you. So often we get tripped up on the what of our message based on how we deliver it. Avoid that trap by following these 4 tips:

1. Ground Them on a Widely-Appealing Problem Statement

In June of 1963, President Kennedy delivered a speech in what was then known as West Berlin, steps away from the B...

December 15, 2016

When I was a young associate in a law firm, I walked past a senior partner’s office and overheard him dictating a letter. In a loud, confident voice he started “[Dear so and so], I was amazed and shocked…” He then paused for a moment. After a few seconds, he rewound the tape and re-recorded “I was shocked and amazed…” Pleased with the change, he continued.

Why do I tell this story? All too often we agonize to find the perfect words – usually incorporating overused adjectives or resorting to hyperbole - to convey emotion. The reality though is people are spoken to and at all day long. The competition for registering an idea or comment with their busy brains is fierce. So why make it harder on them by burying the one gem you’d like to impart?


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