Today, I spoke to Jim Camp, who is the best-selling author of negotiation books Start with No® and No: The Only System Of Negotiation You Need For Work and Home, and is chairman of Camp Negotiation Systems®.  In this interview, Jim tells us what challenge we all face, what people need to know about how to negotiate, how emotions come into play and what to do about it and more.

Jim, you have trained hundreds maybe thousands of people world wide over the last 20+ years, what one challenge do they all face?

No matter the culture, no matter the language, no matter the country, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, The Philippines, U.S., I see the same thing every time. People don’t really know what negotiation is and what it is not. When you ask the audience or the client to define negotiation they are all over the map. For example some will say, “get as much as you can but leave the other guy happy.” Or I’ll hear, “it is a process of give and take and no one is really happy.” Or I’ll hear, “ give up what you must but take all they will give you.” The list could go on all day. But that is the very first challenge.

Well then how does their thoughts on what negotiation is impact their efforts in negotiations?

It is like opening a can of worms. But the first worm out of the can is the struggle to absorb that decisions we make are made in the emotional arena of the brain. Now that is a difficult thing to swallow. After all, society works hard to know the answer. Across the board intelligence is cheered and strived for. The world believes they make their decisions intellectually and they don’t. In fact it is impossible to make an intelligent decision. Research has proven that decisions are made emotionally but not only do people not know it the don’t believe it, in fact they get angry about it. I have had people get out of their chair to argue the point with me. The audience around them sees the emotion roaring like fire and they start to get it. To argue is not intelligent, it is emotional fueled by the emotional need to be correct. To need to protect our hard earned intelligence.

Ok, so if I buy that decisions are made emotionally, and I am not sure I do, how does that usually impact a negotiation?

It has an impact in so many ways. For example, if you believe it is intellectual how do you think? You think with facts. Time and again I here new clients say, “I want to make them understand.” Well now what happens? They prepare by lining up the facts. They prepare with heavy factual presentations. They prepare with past compromises. If they gave a 6% discount last time, they might figure that it makes sense to give the same discount. Or the intelligent thing to do is to be sure to keep the business so it makes good sense to open at 6% and be willing to give 8% as a fall back, or BATNA. Now all of that is intelligent. Well no it is not intelligent. It is emotional.

Driving the decision to give up anything is fear of losing the deal. Why risk losing the deal? It makes perfect intellectual sense to give up at lease the same percentage. So we enter into bargaining. And guess who’s money we are bargaining with, yep you guessed it, ours. They say they want 12% or they are going somewhere else. Now the fear really sets in. We were willing to give up six but they are asking for twelve. So what do we do, we ask to split the difference. Stop. Stop. What is now driving our decisions? Intellect and understanding or fear and the vision of them going somewhere else? If we had started with their vision of what we are delivering and what it solves for them we have a chance to raise the price not start with a compromise. A whole different game.

Interesting, but, if it is emotional and I’m still not convinced then explain to me how it impacts the relationship?

Oh, great word, I hear it all the time. You must protect the relationship at all costs. Right! No matter what, do not hurt the relationship. Well I ask, what relationship? The friendly relationship? The business relationship? What relationship? Now that is intellectual for sure. The fear of damaging the relationship. Look back at the definition of negotiation they lay out for me in the answer to the first question. Keep the other side happy. That drives the emotional decision to compromise thinking that will keep the other side happy. You give they take. They are happy all right.

They have the power and leverage. Right. No you just gave away your precious profit because you believe it is intellectual to do so. In fact, sometimes the other side will tell you they are not satisfied with your service, delivery or what ever. What are they attempting to do? Drive your emotion and vision of losing the deal. If they succeed, they take and you give. They might even say to you, “does this relationship mean anything to you?” What are you going to say? Especially when you know intellectually you must keep the relationship safe. I don’t know about you but I can’t and never have been able to make anyone happy. They have to make themselves happy. To do that they must see a solution to their problem and embrace it. That makes us happy.

Well then what do you do to solve the basic challenge of knowing what negotiation is and what it isn’t?

The key is to work with the client to develop a vision of what it is and isn’t. “Negotiation is the human effort to bring about an agreement or agreements between two or more parties with all parties having the RIGHT to VETO.” There is a great deal of vision here. For example who on this planet doesn’t have the RIGHT to Veto? Now remember, think this through. How many times have you heard a small child say the word “No” I don’t want to eat my spinach. Or a man or woman on death row say “No” I don’t want to die.

Extremes I realize but when you really think this through you will discover no is nothing more than a decision to be changed. You will also discover there may be consequences to bad decisions but you still have the right to make them and correct them. Lastly I’ll leave you with this thought. When someone tries to run over you and take away your right to say no, how do you feel. Mad, upset, taken advantage of or maybe just turned off. They are trying to steal your RIGHT to VETO! Knowing what negotiation is starts us down the path to doing a much better job negotiating. It will lead you to the discovery your emotions must be worked with and also theirs.

Jim Camp, best-selling author of negotiation books Start with No® and No: The Only System Of Negotiation You Need For Work and Home, is chairman of Camp Negotiation Systems®, founder, CEO, and president of Coach2100®, Inc. negotiation training system, and inventor of the Camp System of Negotiation®. Since 1987, over 100,000 people have used his negotiation training and management system in more than 500 multinational organizations in a diverse array of industries to complete thousands of negotiated business transactions totaling over $100 billion.  Camp and his negotiation training have been featured on CNN, CNBC, numerous radio shows, and in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Inc., Cosmopolitan, San Francisco Chronicle, The Columbus Dispatch, The Christian Science Monitor, and San Jose Mercury News.