The Secret to Winning in a Negotiation is Collaboration says Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

'A lot of people view Google as a large and powerful company but I view the people I've trained at Google to be better at humanity and human connections'

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By Aashika Jain

Professor Stuart Diamond

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Stuart Diamond, an American Pulitzer prize-winning author, journalist, professor, attorney and entrepreneur, has been a pioneer in the art of negotiation for more than 20 years.

Diamond's widely acclaimed book on negotiation, Getting More, was a 2011 New York Times best-seller. His framework has been used by global giants such as Google, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, General Electric, to train its employees worldwide leading to billions of dollars in extra revenues.

Entrepreneur India spoke with him to learn the tricks of the trade when he was in India recently to attend the "Minds That Matter' initiative by the family business group Machani Group to celebrate those who have made revolutionary strides in their field.

His #1 secret to winning in a negotiation is really quite simple.

The Art of Negotiation

He says the only way to win a negotiation is not thinking about winning. Rather, thinking about collaborating and getting more for all parties. He believes if people valued each other's perception and figured out how to be innovative through collaboration. That is a much more effective way to be dealing with each other.

"If you win and someone losses, it causes conflict and leads to the loss of value. There's too much emphasis on winning these days and not creating value," says the Professor.

He believes negotiation is not just a subject but it is the basic process of human interaction.

Every time two people interact, there is a negotiation going on whether someone meets their goals by communicating verbally or not. So an understanding of how people interact, and how they should interact is essential to success in life.

"What I teach people to do is to figure out the picture in their head about everyone, the perceptions of each party and a clear sense of goal and to collaborate using those tools so that everyone winds up with something of value, and nobody feels out that they lost on anything," explains Diamond.

His framework has taught or advised more than 30,000 people in 50+ countries, including top executives of more than 220 Fortune 500 companies.

Talking about his model that he has developed at The Wharton Business School, he explains exactly the same tools could be used or should be used to get a discount in the store, doing a billion-dollar deal, getting kids to go to bed, or getting a raise in your job. So this is a process to deal with any fact pattern in life, whether be it personal or professional.

For businesses, he says better deals don't depend upon power and leverage but depend upon human contact and human relations.

"A lot of people view Google as a large and powerful company but I view the people I've trained at Google to be better at humanity and human connections. In fact, the facts, expertise, power, and leverage are only about 10 per cent of the reason why people reach an agreement. In fact, more than half has to do with whether people like or trust each other and most of the rest is about how they talk to each other. So what I've taught people from Google is how to talk to other people, and how to value other people. That turns out being much more powerful in getting deals and keeping deals or in closing deals and being more creative in the way they approach and solve problems," explains Professor Diamond.

Stairway to Success

Professor Diamond believes a lot of people try to define success as "one size that fits all but there is no one size which fits all, there's just a bunch of people and a bunch of situations. And every person in every situation has its own measure of success.

"How do you define success in negotiating with your significant other or your spouse? It depends. How do you define success negotiating in a foreign country, or negotiating in a business? It depends upon each situation. This is very situational. For example, there's no such thing as- is how to negotiate with the Japanese or how to negotiate with the Americans," says the 70-year old.

He says stereotyping is done a lot by the media. In reality, this is a bunch of malarkey that doesn't work in terms of defining success in real life; although it's easy to say and easy to write about.

His #3 tips to all entrepreneurs include solving problems by finding out who the people are, what their sensibilities are, and talking to each other in a way that values people and that creates value by trading things that people actually value.

"This equally means to value mistakes, to be persistent, to never give up and to think other people have as many good ideas as I do and I want to constantly get rid of my ego and try to find something better tomorrow than today and to never dwell on the past." says the Professor.

The Indian Conundrum

He believes India suffers from an interpersonal conflict that cost this country vast amount of matters of money and opportunity.

His research has shown that conflict in India is costing 6 per cent of GNP, which is more than $150 billion a year. Twice as much as the government spends on healthcare, three times as much as the government spends on education, and three million jobs. "So there's a lot that India can benefit from by using more collaborative tools. I have been taking this message around to various companies that I met this time," says Professor Diamond.

Professor Diamond, who first came to India in 1984 as a reporter for The New York Times, covering the Bhopal incident and was struck by the humanity, the empathy and the fantastic diversity in India, recalls his most memorable experience to be watching the country survive with enormous contradictions between the old and the new, between various tribes and sects. Again, a sense of optimism despite all the frustrations, India has been through.

He sees India like a terrific athlete who still needs training for the Olympics. He counts paying someone $3 at the India Gate in New Delhi and getting a picture with a Cobra as a fond memory of India.

Aashika Jain

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Associate Editor, Entrepreneur India

Journalist in the making since 2006! My fastest fingers have worked for India's business news channel CNBC-TV18, global news wire Thomson Reuters, the digital arm of India’s biggest newspaper The Economic Times and Entrepreneur India as the Digital Head. 

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