Daily Insider: The science of negotiating – with help from FDR and McCormack

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Negotiation 101 – have a baseline and don’t be greedy

Picked up a useful piece of negotiating advice from a Ken Follett novel yesterday. One of the American characters, discussing how the 1941 Atlantic Charter was negotiated (above) explained how US president Roosevelt insisted UK PM Churchill do the first draft.

Reason: whatever points Churchill included from the other (US) side would automatically stay in – while Roosevelt could still argue for more. But whatever of his own desires Churchill put into the draft would still be up for negotiation. A rational approach to getting more of your own wishes into a joint statement. 

My own approach flows from a book on the subject by sports agency supremo Mark McCormack, who died almost two decades ago. He advised to always enter negotiations with a well considered and unmoveable bottom line. Also, to always leave plenty on the table for the other side. The goodwill this creates easily compensates for any short term loss.   

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