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Learn the key ideas of the book by Deepak Malhotra

Negotiating the Impossible

Learn how to negotiate in difficult situations

Over the years, Deepak Malhotra has gathered together a large number of stories, taken from conversations with tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, managers, politicians, and athletes. He has studied hundreds of negotiations, complicated international situations, stalled discussions, and conflicts that have dragged on, seemingly without end. He believes that any situation can be resolved, and in his book he explains how to find a solution to every problem, based on the conviction that negotiating means, first and foremost, interacting with others. Negotiating the Impossible came from the desire to provide a guide to negotiating more effectively, especially in situations where agreement would seem impossible.

Negotiating the Impossible
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Listen in 26 min.

Negotiations involve human interaction between two or more people, who are aware of having different interests and points of view, and are trying to reach an agreement

To better understand the contents of this book, we must first start with the concept of negotiation itself, which is to be interpreted in the widest sense of the term. Irrespective of the situation we find ourselves in, whether it be a question of international diplomacy or a newlywed couple, negotiation is, fundamentally, a question of human interaction.

Negotiating means engaging with others, in such a way as to achieve mutual understanding and reach the best agreement possible, well-aware of the difference in interests, ideas, and goals that are in play.

Stalemate means a situation brought to a halt, in which the parties are making conflicting requests, resulting in a tightening of positions and a lack of willingness to make concessions and meet half-way.

Conflict  refers to a situation in which the parties have opposing interests or ideas, whereas ugly conflicts are situations presenting serious hurdles or ones perceived to be particularly difficult to overcome (such as situations where there is hostility, resentment, or a lack of trust, for example).

There is a way to overcome both stalemates and ugly conflicts, utilising three types of leverage capable of moving mountains: framing, process, and empathy.

Framing refers to the power that decisions have over us. The way we choose to present our proposal is just as important as the proposal itself. Choosing the right frame, carefully selecting the way we articulate, structure, and present a proposal during negotiations, can make all the difference to how it is perceived by the other party.

It is important to pay attention to the process if we wish to obtain positive results from a negotiation: it is much more important to intelligently organise the negotiation process, than it is to obsess over the substance of the agreement.

Lastly, we must not underestimate the power of empathy: miracles can happen when we truly try putting ourselves in the other side’s shoes and try to understand their needs and point of view.


The key ideas of "Negotiating the Impossible"

Negotiations involve human interaction between two or more people, who are aware of having different interests and points of view, and are trying to reach an agreement
The power of framing: changing the way you frame a proposal can also change the way in which it is perceived
Sometimes it is enough to present a solution as the obvious choice for the majority to accept it
The first side to establish a frame of reference will have an advantage over the other party
Pay attention to the process: a good negotiator doesn’t simply think about what they want to get out of the agreement, but also how they will get there, creating a map with all the necessary components
Do not underestimate the importance of staying at the negotiation table, even when relations seem completely compromised
Changing the rules during the process can be a great way to successfully close a negotiation that is at risk of finishing badly
The power of empathy in negotiations: understanding the other party’s point of view is crucial (but doesn’t mean you have to approve of it or justify it)
Empathy also means accepting others’ deep-seated beliefs and using them to your advantage
Take-home message

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