Authentic Negotiating: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: March 6th, 2017 by bobmorris

Authentic Negotiating: The Three Keys To True Negotiating Success & How To Achieve Them
Corey Kupfer
Advantage Media Group (January 2017)

How to prepare for collaboration on reaching “fair and lasting” agreements…or walking away from those that won’t be

The descriptive “authentic” has been buzzing around at least since Polonius’ advice to his son Laertes in Act I, scene 3, of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” In a business context, Bill George was among the first to affirm the importance of this attribute in his classic works, Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value (2003) and True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (2007).

Corey Kupfer asserts — and I wholly agree — that great negotiators are authentic. That is, “they get their clients more of what they want with less leverage” and “attain fair and lasting deals even when they have the leverage.” How? They posses three strengths: Clarity (i.e. a high level of self-knowledge, a connection to inner truth, and a willingness got devolve to a depth most people are unwilling and/or able to attempt); Detachment (i.e. if you cannot achieve “the objectives on which you have Clarity,” you walk away); finally, Equilibrium (i.e. remaining centered, calm, and clear throughout the negotiation process).

Kupfer suggests that these are six of the most common reasons for negotiating failure:

1. Lack of preparation
2. Ego
3. Fear
4. Rigidity
5. Getting emotional/losing objectivity
6. Lack of integrity [and/or credibility]

In Chapter Three, he offers practical advice on how to take each into full account. As I read and then re-read this material, I was reminded of Art of War in which Sun Tzu also has some excellent advice that is relevant. For example, “Every battle is won or lost before it is fought.”

Then in Chapter Four, Corey Kupfer provides a five-step process to become a great negotiator. However, “before we jump into the five steps, let me discuss the state of being that underlies all of these. Great negotiating, like great leadership, is a state of being; not a skill, and its important to understand the distinction between the two.” He explains it. In the final two chapters, he discusses CPR in much great detail. “It is a great framework for preparing yourself to be at your most centered, powerful, and effective when you sit down at that table across from your opponents.”

In a perfect world, everyone involved in a negotiation is “authentic.” In the world we all know, that is seldom true. Many people are inept and/or unscrupulous. So, my take on this book is that almost anyone can become a great negotiator if they reach a state of being that combines impeccable integrity with sufficient knowledge and the ability to derive the greatest advantage from that knowledge. It also seems essential to me to keep in the lyrics written by Don Schlitz for a song made popular by Kenny Rogers:

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealings done.”

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