Negotiating from the Inside Out: A book review by Bob Morris

Negotiating from the Inside Out: A Playbook for Business Success
Clint Babcock
Sandler Training (July 2020)

How to win “the inner game of negotiation”

After President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin met for several days with President Jimmy Carter (September 1978), the “Camp David Accords” were announced. Sadat and Begin were asked how their countries were able to reach the agreements after thousands of years of deep hatred and bloody warfare. Begin replied, “We did what all wise men do. We began at the end.”

In my opinion, this is among the most valuable insights that business leaders should consider when facing all the unique challenges generated within a global marketplace that is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I remember.

Sadat and Begin followed the process of reverse engineering. Briefly, it involves taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object. The practice, taken from older industries, is now frequently used on computer hardware and software. Years ago, a manufacturer would dismantle and examine a product sold by a competitor. Today, the process has much wider applications.

I think Clint Babcock had this mind when formulating the core principles of what he characterizes as “inside out negotiation.” He shares in this book a wealth of information, insights, and counsel (i.e. dos and don’ts) based on decades of wide and deep experience with negotiations, both as an individual and as a member of a team. Whatever the specific context may be, Babcock insists, it is best to think strategically in order to achieve the given objective(s) with results-driven tactics.

For example, he devotes the first part of the book to tactics that include these:

o DISC: Role Playing (Pages 15-25)
– Dominant: Aggressive, blunt, to the point, intimidating
– Influencer: Talkative, emotional, open, friendly, enthusiastic, extroverted
– Steady Relator: Easygoing, calm, attentive, reasonable
– Compliant: facts-oriented, “by the book,” quiet, analytical, introverted

You need to understand each type (especially vulnerabilities) so that you can shape your approach accordingly. Also, you need to understand your own vulnerabilities. How do you tend to come across to others?

NOTE: In Art of War, Sun Tzu urges leaders to seem weak when they are strong and vice versa, seem vulnerable to flattery when in fact they hate it, seem slow to decide when in fact have a lightning-quick mind, etc. You get the idea.

o TA: Transactional Analysis: Behavior Patterns (27-36
o Drama Triangle: Victim/Persecutor/Rescuer trap (37-42)
o AI: Collaboration with machines to accumulate data to support position (69-74)
o NI: Negotiating Intelligence (74-84)
– Fait Accompli: Strategic Negotiator (SN) announces final terms.
– SN’s “Best and Final Offer”: It never is.
– The Flinch: SN feigns shock
– “Your competition is cheaper”: SN is probably mixing apples and oranges deliberately
– Lower/Higher Authority: SN stalls, saying that a superior and/or others need to approve
– “Good Guy/Bad Guy”: SN expresses agreement but others are or will be a barrier
-“Hot Potato”: SN claims that unexpected complications that cannot be revealed have
created new problems that complicate the negotiation. “Help me sell this. Make more concessions.”

Babcock thoroughly explains all this and much, much more.

Of greatest interest and value to me:

1. Take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. Where specifically can others (a boss, a car salesperson, literally anyone else with whom you negotiate anything) exploit you? Where specifically are you vulnerable?

2. The material in this book really serves several purposes. It helps each reader to gain a much better understanding of their values, values, objectives, and — hopefully — when, how, and and why they “negotiate against themselves” with a negative attitude. It also prepares each reader to negotiate (probably with others) legal agreements with clients, customers, suppliers, et al.

3. Successful Strategic Negotiation usually requires research (“homework”), discussion, practice, and rigorous evaluation. That said, Strategic Negotiation SHOULD NEVER be dishonest, unethical, illegal, etc.

4. However, it is appropriate to take advantage of the person(s) “on the other side of the table” if they engage in negotiation without the preparation that success requires. Their wounds are self-inflicted.

Clint Babcock’s book is a “must read” for anyone who replies heavily on persuasion to earn a living. It will also be very helpful when negotiating with others who have read it.

Remember: You can’t “begin at the end” unless and until you know where it is. Then you need to know the best way to get there. In essence, that’s the “inner game” of negotiation.

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