Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

Former President Bill Clinton met yesterday with North Korean leader Kim Jung-il seeking the release of two imprisoned American journalists. Fortunately, he was successful and the journalists have now been reunited with their families in the United States. In light of Kim Jung-il’s sordid reputation, here are my Top Ten Tactics for Negotiating with the Unethical and Untrustworthy:

1. Ensure significant negative consequences for any breach by your counterpart, increasing the likelihood they will actually follow through on their commitments

2. Independently confirm all statements that may provide your counterpart with leverage, especially if they say they have a better alternative (or Plan B) to doing a deal with you

3. Discount the relevance of statements that cannot be confirmed

4. Consider recording the negotiation – it’s tough to dispute a recording of statements actually made

5. Aggressively explore your potential alternatives (or Plan Bs)

6. Be wary of vague and ambiguous statements

7. Build mechanisms into the agreement that independently ensure each party fulfills its commitments

8. Understand that such negotiations take more time and effort than others, and recognize this as a cost of dealing with this person or entity

9. Pay attention to the details and don’t leave ambiguous issues unresolved

10. Consider bringing in an independent third party to help

In addition, define what constitutes a breach of any agreement, provide for a fair and efficient way to resolve disputes that may arise from a potential breach and finally, don’t lower yourself to their level. Your reputation is far too important to risk!

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