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The real estate business is interesting because illiquidity means that the messy bits of the market process are messy for reasons not usually explored in textbooks.  Thus, there is a lot to learn.  (One of these days, I will be allowed to teach a course on Negotiations, but not this year.)  I receive mailings from a group that specializes in it and, at the end of last year, they sent me some interesting messages on what happened last year.  Here is some help with your negotiations this year.

Much of what needs to be learned happens behind closed doors.   So, I encourage you to read more about the experience of others from PON’s Top 10 list for 2016.  I think that two of them convey particularly important lessons.

First, before a presidential debate, there are long negotiations about the ground rules.  Even before the minor debates which determine a party’s nominee, the negotiations involve high stakes.  This link shows some of what worked or did not work last time.

One of the most difficult lessons to absorb about negotiations in particular, and about thinking strategically in general, is that the ability to set the rules of the game is almost as important as the ability to play the game well.  Many people find it hard to connect the rules, with the behaviour which results from that behaviour and the outcome.  These negotiations are boring and attract few headlines, so they fit with the Guelph attitude of getting things done without much grandstanding.

My second boring-but-important lesson considers the FBI’s negotiations with land occupiers in Oregon.  It demonstrates the value of patience, even in cases that feature in the national media and the public pressure that goes with it.

To get better at negotiating, here are some resources suggested by PON.  Each year, new books are published for experts with dramatic titles like Negotiating the Impossible (Deepak Malhotra) and Negotiating the Nonnegotiable (Daniel Shapiro).  To my mind, these books are written for people who have already learned lessons such as the two noted above.  Most of the rest is about tactics which ensure that you get most of the value created and that other player(s) get enough to be willing to implement the agreement.

Still, many subtle misunderstandings persist, such as those created by gender (What Works, Iris Bohnet) and culture.

Good luck with your negotiations during 2017.

PA

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