The Greatest Negotiator
You’ve Never Heard Of
by/Jan 13, 2024/in, , , ,
There are some incredible negotiators in our past. Gandhi comes to mind, and if you ask Google Nelson Mandela is the name that comes up as the greatest in history. More recently there is a fellow who negotiates for the most important catastrophes in our world. One guy, multiple tragedies over the years, and he’s still the one who negotiates with families about a payout.
Inspired by the podcast Who Decides What a Life is Worth? This got me thinking about negotiation and the hardest things we have to negotiate for. Who would be the greatest negotiator ever?
I mean, there’s Victor Lustig, the man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice! He must have been one hell of a negotiator.
Kenneth Feinberg might be the greatest negotiator in history. He’s the subject of the Freakonomics podcast Who decides what a life is worth? After he negotiated the payouts to the families after the 9/11 tragedy. Think about the trust put into this one individual. Think about what’s weighing on his shoulders when making those decisions. This is why that podcast is a fascinating listen, you hear from Feinberg what he thinks about when he’s in these once-in-a-lifetime negotiations.
But that’s the thing, it isn’t once in a lifetime. Kenneth has negotiated with the Agent Orange victims in Vietnam, the victims of the Aurora movie theatre shooting in Colorado, the Boston Marathon Bombing victims, the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims, the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando victims, and the victims of the country-music festival near the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This guy negotiates with people after the most horrific acts.
Listen to the podcast, you may learn a thing or two.
The book Never Split the Difference is a great starting point. Life is a negotiation. You’re either getting the sale, or you’re being sold why you won’t be getting the sale. It’s all a negotiation.
Confession. I hate negotiating. The idea of trying to out-smart someone so I could reign supreme just doesn’t make me happy. I want to be happy AND have the person I’m negotiating with be happy. The Richard Branson win-win-win strategy, where you try to do things that create value for everyone involved. I can get behind that.
But what if you’re nice? What if you loathe bartering with people? The idea of swindling someone down on their price just seemed so foreign to me, until I went to Mexico for the first time. Turns out, other places in the world expect you to negotiate. If you take the first price someone gives you in a street market then you’re the sucker.
I’ve learned to barter with people but I’m pretty much a pushover. Reading Never Split The Difference helped me. Negotiating isn’t about you, it’s about the greater good of who you’re negotiating on behalf of.
You don’t have to love negotiating but you can learn not to hate it. Trying to get a deal doesn’t make you a bad person. Make it a game, and have fun with it.