In a consulting project in Beijing, the head of a global IT firm asked “What was the secret of being a successful negotiator?” In fact as they had global customers, “What was the secret of being a successful global negotiator?”
I shared many insights from past blogs, communication, planning, risk taking and cultural differences. She and her team listened intently and took many notes. At the end of the discussion there was plenty of agreement and nodding, but she still pressed for the one key item or the secret to success.
So let me share that with you. It is a secret passed down to me and all of us from Aristotle in his classic book called, Rhetoric. This is a great book for researchers in the field of communication and negotiation, but a hard read. It’s a source of great knowledge for me in the quest of understanding the secret of negotiation success.
The secret is: balance your negotiation argument with logic and emotion.
I believe that Aristotle’s contribution, in his book Rhetoric, is one of the greatest foundation stones for better negotiation, persuasion, communication and argument that has been written. Sadly somewhere in our now insane politically correct world, the concept of argument as a tool for negotiators and communicators has become a negative word, but it is not.
If this was not a blog, I would spend pages talking about the battle that took place between Sophists, Aristotle and his buddies, (Socrates and Plato). Part of his basic premise was, using both logic and emotion stopped people trying to manipulate others. They could manipulate people with logic by omitting important information or by using guilt or fear to get someone to do something that is not in their best interest.
Aristotle saw the two elements were very persuasive because you the negotiator or communicator had to prepare with both knowledge (logic) and (emotion) to connect and persuade another person to reach an agreement. This took longer because the preparing meant that you had to understand who you were going to negotiate with and what you were trying to achieve.
If you want to read more, I would suggest that you purchase a copy of, “The New History of Classical Rhetoric,” by George A Kennedy, available in any good book store or through Amazon. It is a book that doesn’t just translate, it gives insights and active commentary for you. As noted by Wikipedia, it is generally regarded today as the standard scholarly resource on the classic book, Rhetoric.
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