Recently I had the pleasure of having former US Senator Jon Kyl as a guest speaker in my Negotiation course.
Time magazine recognized Kyl as one of the world’s most influential people in 2010 (along with Lady Gaga, as he is quick to point out) and as one of the 10 best senators in 2006. Naturally the best thing about having guest speakers is their built in credibility, and that credibility is amplified when it’s someone like Kyl who has been in the mix at such a high level.
As I had hoped, he told some great negotiation war stories including some across the aisle with Senators Diane Feinstein and Ted Kennedy and another about how he and Mitch McConnell strategized for a negotiation with President Obama about the end of the Bush tax cuts. Much more surprising to me was how he reinforced several themes I emphasize in class. In fact, he did it so well that I had to convince the students that I didn’t ask him to do so.
And, without any further ado, here are his 10 lessons:
Tell the truth, don’t deceive
The best deal is one that works for everyone (Or, remedies associated w/ a bad deal aren’t worth the cost)
Always allow your counterpart to save face
Never show your hand early and don’t show emotion (Or, only use anger when it’s real and even then rarely)
Know what you need and know when to quit (Or, don’t worry about chasing things that may be “left on the table”)
Know human nature (it’s ok to play to one’s ego)
Know in advance whether you can walk away and set the point at which you will
Beware of the “one more thing” after the deal is closed
Do what works for you – know what your negotiation style is
For lawyers, remember that it’s about your client’s interests, not you and your ego