Book Review: Negotiating So Everyone Wins - Canadian Government Executive
Bookshelf with Harvey Schachter
September 8, 2016

Book Review: Negotiating So Everyone Wins

Ego-creep is the first of five demons he cites that can bedevil your negotiations. “Watch for the creep–it usually comes from feeling intimidated or insecure,” Dingwall writes. To combat neediness, you must swap need for want, distinguishing between what you instinctively think or emotionally feel you need and what you actually need.

David Dingwall is familiar to many government executives for his role in the Chrétien government where he held several cabinet posts, from public works to health. He later became a government executive himself, presiding over the Royal Canadian Mint, improving operations to the point the organization secured its first surplus in a number of years. But he ran into trouble–and became a target of ridicule–when he came under scrutiny for expense claims and declared “I am entitled to my entitlements.”

That didn’t do the Liberals or government executives any favours. But he’s back in the public eye, a lawyer and visiting professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, with a book Negotiating So Everybody Wins, that might do government executives who read it the favour of improving on that important front.

The book emerges from interviews with a series of well-known leaders–long-time former deputy minister Peter Harder, former Canadian Auto Workers Union President Buzz Hargrove, former TD Bank president Ed Clark, NHL Players Association head Donald Fehr, former Ontario Premier and Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae, MP and former cabinet minister Lisa Raitt. The interviews can also be accessed through video links.

For example, Harder–now the government’s representative in the Senate where he will need every negotiating skill he has to shepherd the Trudeau agenda through the upper body–advises: “There are some lessons that are generic in negotiations. One is always be respectful. Don’t vilify the other side. Two, always leave a way out for compromise so that when the compromise happens there hasn’t been winners and losers, in a classic sense. The third is, make timing your friend. You have to be deliberate about what you put on the table [and] when, in terms of the timing of what you are doing. Is what you are doing going to give leverage to what you want to achieve?”

But the book is also very much Dingwall, offering his own experiences and learning over the years, in a practical, non-nonsense vein. He shares an early lesson from William “Bull” Marsh, a legendary figure with the United Mine Workers. Dingwall was a young, eager pup, a 28-year-old first time MP for Cape Breton who found himself in 1981 representing the Liberal government in negotiations over funding. Dingwall asked a lot of questions and demonstrated his knowledge of the facts whenever possible in their first encounter, convinced it was helping to make a good impression.

negotiating-so-everyone-wins

Negotiating So Everyone Wins
By David Dingwall
Lorimer, 336 pages, $29.95

But it wasn’t. At the end, Marsh approached him and asked to have a word. He leaned close, looked the young MP in the eye, and said in a low, slow voice, “When you speak, I fucking listen. So next time when I talk, you better fucking listen.” After that lesson on respect for the other side–delivered without the finesse of Peter Harder–Marsh walked away, leaving Dingwall in shock and with a memory for life. “I am indebted to Bull Marsh for reining in an emerging ego that had been a barrier to our proceedings and relationships,” he declares.

Ego-creep is the first of five demons he cites that can bedevil your negotiations. “Watch for the creep–it usually comes from feeling intimidated or insecure,” he writes. Don’t overcompensate, which will lead you to speak louder and more often than required (and not listen to the other side, as Marsh stressed). At the same time, avoid feeling superior, even if the other side seems to be inexperienced or disorganized.

Squash any desire to prove something. Your focus, he says, should not be on being the best known negotiator in the history of humankind but on achieving the best agreement in this particular situation. “Put the deal first–you serve it, it doesn’t serve you,” he says. Confidence in your preparation and skill set may be appropriate and well-earned. But that must be kept from turning into ego. Step back. Keep yourself focused on deliberate and strategic actions.

Bias can also derail negotiations. He points to confirmation bias, where you might seek, interpret, or prioritize information that confirms your beliefs. Anchoring bias can also be a pitfall, reaching early conclusions based on the first wave of information and process. The first number thrown out by the other side can lower your sights unreasonably. Be patient, recognizing that relying on first impressions can get you in trouble.

Overconfidence can also lead to bias–believing too much in your clout and skill. “If at the end of each day you reach inaccurate conclusions about the power you hold and the effectiveness of your approach, you will lose touch with the reality of the negotiation in a hurry. The best antidote to this bias is to appoint a person of trusted experience and perspective to your team to provide daily feedback about your performance. And then you really need to accept their comments and advice,” he says. Check your sense of the specifics of the meeting against that person’s viewpoint, avoiding the tendency of overconfident negotiators to not check in enough with others and trivialize contrary conclusions.

Lawyers learn to use precedents to substantiate their point of view. Judges adopt multiple perspectives to ensure they thoroughly understand the information before them. Academics are expected to understand and assess the contrary point of view when making an argument. Negotiators need similar discipline, testing their positions using precedent and contrary arguments.
Neediness can also get you in trouble. Dingwall tells of the car salesman who once suggested he take a new silver Taurus station wagon home to “try it out.” It proved an ingenious negotiating technique because by the time his wife and three children had seen what they considered their new car he wasn’t considering any alternatives and the salesman knew it, not having to lower the price to make the sale.

Needing to get a deal done quickly can be a killer. It will lead to early, foolish concessions. “Of the signals negotiators send that indicate they are needy, the one I have seen most often is non-stop talking,” he adds. “If you find yourself talking at length, recognize it and stop.” To combat neediness, you must swap need for want, distinguishing between what you instinctively think or emotionally feel you need and what you actually need.

Often we believe that reality is exactly what we believe, the facts plain for everyone to see, and anybody rational will agree with us. Such “naïve realism,” as he calls it, is fourth demon to be alert to. It can serve as a trap, since often others will have different facts and a different version of reality.

“Accept complexity–there is no such thing as a single, obvious reality. Respect the flexibility of facts–they mean different things from different perspectives. Grant the rationality of others–you’re not the only one who can think and reason,” he notes. Again, he stresses the importance of testing and assessing, finding the gaps in your position and knowing how to address them.

The fifth demon is assumptions. Entering any negotiation process with an assumption of what matters to the other side can be folly. Indeed, don’t even assume you know what matters for your side. “Assumptions about the appropriate price without confirmation of market value, the quality of the product without objective reports and testing, or the timing of shipments without the track record of the delivery company can lead to difficulty,” he says. Follow the immortal words of Ronald Reagan (based on a Russian proverb): Trust, but verify.

To help shape a deal, he recommends limiting choice since when overwhelmed with options people can close down, overwhelmed. Remember the power of testimonials: The more you can offer supportive commentary about your proposals from individuals and organizations the greater likelihood you have of winning the other party over. Focus on problem-solving. “My experience is that negotiators who adopt a problem-solving approach are more likely to sway their counterparts than those who are adversarial and contrarian. This means presenting your options or scenarios as possible solutions that meet the needs of both sides,” he says.

Mix up the environment: It can be very effective to change the setting of your negotiations in order to get out of a rut or logjam. This can be as simple as calling for a coffee break. He likes to invite the counterparty to go for a walk together outside. It can be effective to walk in step and talk through issues in a softer, more relaxed fashion.

The book is jammed with ideas and tips. Some of it will be familiar (although not necessarily advice you have been following) and some of it new. It’s presented in a friendly, conversational tone that will ease you through the pages.

About this author

Harvey Schachter

Harvey Schachter is a writer, specializing in management and business issues. He writes three weekly columns for the Globe and Mail and The Leader’s Bookshelf column for Canadian Government Executive, and a regular column and features for Kingston Life magazine. Harvey was editor of the 2004 book Memos to the Prime Minister: What Canada Can Be in the 21st Century. He was the ghostwriter on The Three Pillars of Public Management by Ole Ingstrup and Paul Crookall, and editor of Getting Clients, Keeping Clients by Dan Richards. A McGill commerce graduate, Harvey spent more than 15 years in a variety of positions at The Kingston Whig-Standard, including editor and planning and promotions manager. He won two National Newspaper Awards for his writing and a national Owl Award for a marketing program he created at the newspaper.

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Bookshelf with Harvey Schachter
 
A few years back, consultants with ghSMART told us the biggest question we face is “who”: Picking staff is our most important decision, even more critical than “what” – the strategy we will employ. These days, in an era in which purpose is prized, “why” can often be the biggest question. But recently, best-selling author...
 
At work, we are often trying to satisfy a bundle of expectations, which can be boiled down to those expectations we place upon ourselves and those placed by others. In government, of course, those outer expectations can be powerful, handed down from the public, the minister, and our immediate boss. But we all react differently,...
 
We learned in grade school that one plus one equals two, but when we are faced with two choices in decision-making – and usually decisions end up framed around two possibilities — our approach might be described as one versus one equals one. We discard the lesser choice and move on with the better one....
 
Did your high school valedictorian go on to achieve greatness? High schools select their valedictorians because they show promise and exemplify the best the school has to offer. So it’s not unreasonable for us to expect them to achieve great things. Many achieve success in their future careers. But greatness tends to be rare. And...
 
Yogi Berra, Maurice (The Rocket) Richard, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, and Derek Jeter. Five elite athletes who led championship teams. However, there’s a difference between them – a critical difference – that could be important to government executives seeking to be more effective at work. Three of those stars – Berra, Richard, and Russell –...
 
Radical candour sounds rather outré as a prescription for government executives. Careful caution is often the norm. But consultant Kim Scott believes candor is critical for relationships and internal organizational communications. And if that doesn’t convince you, her new book, Radical Candor, still has some terrific ideas to improve your weekly schedule of meetings and...
 
Innovation is prized and praised these days at work, even in government. We are supposed to relish creative change. But what if the reality is that humans instinctively reject such change? Jennifer Mueller, a social psychologist at the University of San Diego who has focused on creativity, is making waves with her claim that our...
 
Leading the Unleadable By Alan Willett Your team probably includes some difficult people. You may not have chosen them – they could have been inherited – but they are your responsibility, even if at times you don’t know what to do. Should you shunt them off onto a project? Chastise them in public? Ignore the...
 
If you want to learn from mistakes in how to handle an interview, you could take a lesson from Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Edward Kennedy, and Alexander Haig. The three public figures all had celebrated careers. But each also had one moment when they badly flubbed an interview. Jimmy Carter admitted to Playboy he had...
 
As understanding of social behaviour increases through intensified research, many government executives are learning about the art of nudging. Governments are establishing nudge units to encourage the citizenry to adopt desired behaviours and, less formally, ministries are trying other routes than laws and regulations to get results. Related posts: Where you sit is where you stand...
 
We curse meetings, but they are essential to today’s collaborative leadership approach. We may long to eliminate them – and no doubt some could be trimmed – but the bigger issue is to make the ones we have more effective. Richard Lent, a Boston-area consultant who has spent 25 years trying to improve his meetings,...
 
Government is replete with silos. Like the weather, everyone complains about them but nobody does much to change it. And if they try, they often find the silos sturdier than expected. That’s why Gillian Tett’s The Silo Effect is an interesting book for government executives. Primarily about business, it still includes government, which is rare...
 
Words, words, words. Blah, blah, blah. Our days – our work lives – are punctuated by a sea of words. We use words to communicate. We use words to not communicate. We use words to share our ideas, to propel our innovation. Think of a recent meeting and you’ll likely think of blah, blah, blah....
 
Government executives are writers. Maybe not like Margaret Atwood or Joseph Boyden, but they pound out words every day themselves on their keyboard, in emails, memos, and other missives. Unfortunately, a lot of what they write is crap—poorly composed, jammed with jargon, and designed in parts, perhaps large parts, to obfuscate in order to avoid...
 
Gladwell made Anders Ericsson famous—or, at least, his research work. A professor of psychology at Florida State University, Ericsson conducted the study of violinists that the best-selling journalist glamourized in his book Outliers, imprinting on our consciousness that 10,000 hours of practice will make you a master at whatever task you devote such attention to....
 
Every evening, Marshall Goldsmith pays an associate to call and ask a series of questions about his behaviour that day. As a high-profile executive coach, he knows how difficult it is for top leaders to cleanse themselves of destructive behaviours. He makes his clients accountable to the people around them in order to heighten the...
 
Let’s resume last month’s discussion on effective change initiatives with some popcorn. Specifically, an experiment some psychologists dreamed up in which they handed a soft drink and a free bucket of popcorn to everyone arriving at a suburban Chicago movie theatre in 2000 to catch a Mel Gibson flick. It may sound like a good...
 
David Dingwall is familiar to many government executives for his role in the Chrétien government where he held several cabinet posts, from public works to health. He later became a government executive himself, presiding over the Royal Canadian Mint, improving operations to the point the organization secured its first surplus in a number of years....
 
Are you an undermanager? We’ve all been warned not to overmanage – become a hen-pecking, micro-manager, obsessing about details, instead of delegating wisely. But consultant Bruce Tulgan believes the opposite, under-management, is epidemic. Indeed, he insists it’s hiding in plain sight, but we don’t notice. “It is so often what’s going wrong in so many...
 
A leader’s job is to illuminate the path ahead. It’s vital to keep employees engaged and aligned with end goals on every project you undertake. And that challenge might be made easier–illuminated for you–by presentations specialist Nancy Duarte, who developed former U.S. vice-president Al Gore’s powerful climate change slide show, and colleague Patti Sanchez in...
 
Ottawa’s Chris Bailey turned down a number of attractive job offers after university graduation in favour of something even more attractive: Figure out how to be productive. It was a personal Odyssey, as he tested the ideas peddled by productivity gurus to see what worked and what didn’t, and added his own twists. The result...
 
At the height of World War Two, a clever scheme was developed to disrupt the Nazi regime behind enemy lines in occupied territory without being detected. It involved a variety of obvious tactics such as slashing tires and draining fuel tanks but also included some unusual ideas to sabotage internal workplace processes. Those might seem...
 
Leadership BS By Jeffrey Pfeffer Harper Business, 259 pages, $36.99 If you think that much of what you read and hear from leadership gurus is BS, you have a supporter in Jeffrey Pfeffer. At first glance he’s an unlikely backer since he’s a leadership guru himself. But he’s a professor of organizational behaviour at the...
 
If you want to improve your management procedures, search Google. No, don’t put those words in the search engine’s magical white slot. Instead read Laszlo Bock’s Work Rules. The head of Google’s people function shares insights gleaned from the company’s rapid growth and its many experiments with different procedures, to see what works best. Of...
 
Mentoring can be one of the most critical – as well as challenging and rewarding – tasks we undertake in the workplace. Sometimes it’s formal. Sometimes it’s informal. But always, when effective, it’s important. Related posts: Coach or mentor: Which one do you need? How Changemakers Get Things Done in Government: Intrapreneurship in Action Intrapreneurship in Action: An interview with Nick Frate...
 
In recent years, it has been customary for government – and government executives – to be looked down upon, while business has been exalted. Somebody who hasn’t succumbed is management guru Henry Mintzberg. Related posts: Young leaders: Deputy minister or private executive? Talent Management: Steps to a strategic roadmap How to bring about real Cultural Change in the Public Service...
 
Many studies have shown that women are socialized to fit in, not stand out. But fitting in can leave you a follower, forever. To advance at work, you need to be noticed. You need to stand out....
 
In 1994 psychiatrist Edward Hallowell coined the term “attention deficit trait” to describe a common problem he saw emerging in the workplace: The tendency to hop from task to task in a rush, without proper focus on what people were doing or should be doing....
 
Leaders motivate. They nudge and cajole staff into inspired work, wielding monetary incentives when required, at least in the private sector. Without motivation, employees might wither and certainly wouldn’t shine. That’s a basic premise of leadership and managerial thinking. And it’s dead wrong…...
 
When you think of creativity and innovation in government, John Lennon and Paul McCartney probably don’t spring to mind. Neither worked in government and, indeed, they were anti-establishment types who you can imagine sneering at “government bureaucrats.”...
 
You can’t appear for your important presentations in a black turtleneck and jeans like Steve Jobs did. And you don’t have alluring electronic gizmos to talk about. So suggesting you might learn from the presentation approach of the hallowed Apple pitchman might seem ludicrous....
 
We know feedback is good for us. We know it can help us improve. But receiving feedback can often be difficult. We tense up, even get irked or angry. Only part of the message, or perhaps none of it, slips through, as we slide into defensive mode. Related posts: Leader as mentor: The power of experience...
 
Leaders need to know how to inspire and manage, and have a solid understanding of the policy field in which they operate. But that’s not enough....
 
As I rush-rush-rush through the day, I occasionally remember the notion of “cool time” from a book published 12 years ago by Toronto time management consultant Steve Prentice....
 
Before a presentation, uncertainty and fear can lead us to try to include all the information required to answer all the questions recipients might have. There’s also a temptation to pack in as much detail as possible, to show the extent of our research, knowledge, and hard work in preparing....
 
Much has been written about decision-making in recent years, as we learn more about how the brain works and behavioural economists devise experiments to understand how we approach choice. But much of it could lead us astray… Related posts: Deliberating over decisions...
 
Elections can bring a change of government. They certainly bring a change in the face of government, as some ministers lose their re-election bid and others are shuffled by the returning prime minister. Related posts: Modern Times: Harnessing ICT for development Leaders and technology literacy Respect public service: Candidate...
 
Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould warned that “the most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and therefore never scrutinize or question.” He was referring to sacred cows, beliefs that don’t stand up to scrutiny and lead us astray if clung to zealously....
 
Governments monitor monetary inflation, and have kept it in check in recent years. But there’s another inflation, rampant, that isn’t monitored and walloping all of us: communications inflation. Technology allows us to connect – and communicate – in a host of ways not available to us just a few years ago, let alone a couple...
 
The dramatic clandestine rescues by Navy SEALs and their daring raid on Osama Bin Laden’s lair may make their work seem a world apart from that of government executives. But in their 2003 book Leadership Lessons of the Navy SEALs, advertising executive Jeff Cannon and his brother, Lt. Cmdr. Jon Cannon…...
 
If you can be a better leader through healthy living, the key to success in your job may lie in three words: Eat, move, sleep. Certainly Tom Rath believes they are important. And Rath, a Gallup researcher, has offered cogent advice before to government executives, in his writings on using their strengths at work and...
 
Finding mentors has been one of the holy grails of career progression, hammered into us by innumerable career consultants and the lessons of our own career. Yet now, someone is telling us to forget them. Related posts: The art of mentorship How Changemakers Get Things Done in Government: Intrapreneurship in Action Intrapreneurship in Action: An interview with Nick Frate...
 
Today, when emotional intelligence is treasured, Sherlock Holmes would seem like a poor role model for government executives. The man lived in his mind and seemed remote from humanity. He could get enmeshed in a drug stupor or sidetracked by some obscure experiment or offbeat intellectual interest. Definitely not the model for modern, progressive governance....
 
No. The word jars us. Just two letters, but it makes us decidedly uncomfortable. In the workplace, Yes is the golden word, the winning word, the expected word that garners plaudits....
 
Our days are a series of decisions, some minor, some medium, some major – and the occasional one humungous. It might seem daunting to think of your day in that fashion, since it’s obviously hard to get every decision right....
 
Presentations make the world go round, particularly in government. Unfortunately, too many of them are ineffective. Incomprehensible graphics, too much text, and garbled messages....
 
Your first instinct might be to deny it, but you are probably a salesperson. Most government executives are, even if the public service is seen as galaxies away from the grubby world of commerce and sales....
 
Getting subordinates to take responsibility in the appropriate situation can be a mind-boggling pursuit. Often we find ourselves lurching into frustrating tugs of war, where they take more responsibility than we want and then take absolutely no responsibility when we are hoping – and perhaps insisting – they do....
 
To improve your job performance and prepare for promotions, should you work on your strengths or weaknesses? What about your subordinates? In getting the best performance from them, should you prod them to enhance their strengths, or shore up or eliminate weaknesses?...
 
We seek success in our daily endeavours. But it’s often through failure that we can learn best....
 
We seek success in our daily endeavours. But it’s often through failure that we can learn best....
 
As the World Bank in the 1990s was preparing for a major transformation to mark its 50th anniversary, consultants Chris McGoff and Michael Doyle met to discuss the plan developed…...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
A few years back, consultants with ghSMART told us the biggest question we face is “who”: Picking staff is our most important decision, even more critical than “what” – the strategy we will employ. These days, in an era in which purpose is prized, “why” can often be the biggest question. But recently, best-selling author...