7 Negotiation Tactics We Can Learn From These Famous Politicians

Sometimes history is made through great negotiations and it’s the work of these famous politicians that have prevented wars, averted crisis, and helped shape the future of their country. While most of us will never be in a position to negotiate a peace treaty, we still enter into negotiations every day and can learn a thing or two from these famous politicians.

1. Zoom in Zoom Out

Henry Kissinger served as Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford. His negotiations with world leaders helped shape the geography, public policy, and laws that mark the 21st century and he is regarded as one of the greatest political negotiators of the 20th century. Kissinger is best known for his “zoom out” and “zoom in” strategy in which he zooms out to the bigger picture and the broader strategy and then zooms in to execute it. He had the ability to see both the broad picture and foster communication and trust with his counterparts. His successful strategy allowed him to forge peace with the Soviet Union in order to open negotiations with China and end American involvement in the Vietnam War.

2. Look for What Unites You and Your Counterpart

John F. Kennedy’s ability to negotiate became evident during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he successfully averted a nuclear war with Russia. Kennedy always understood the importance of negotiation and made that evident in his inaugural address when he said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But never let us fear to negotiate.” His approach involved looking for what problems unite as instead of fighting over those which divide us.

3. Never Fear Negotiations

Roosevelt’s most famous negotiation was the New Deal, which allowed Americans to get back to work after the Great Depression. He is famous for saying, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” and he used this as a way to motivate the country during some of the darkest times but this is still a great tactic for today’s negotiators. People involved in negotiations may face many fears like the fear of failure or rejection, but fear only creates negative emotions. However, if you take a win-win approach and there is no winner and no loser, you should have nothing to fear when negotiating.

4. Know Who You’re Negotiating With

You should never underestimate a brand or person you haven’t done business with before. It is crucial to find out everything you can about someone before you enter into the negotiations so you develop an appropriate strategy.

5. Listen to the Other Side

Negotiations are not about talking as much as they are listening to what is happening on the other side. This was something that John F. Kennedy knew quite well. He knew that the key to a successful deal was asking open-ended, relevant questions and then listening to the response of the other side. This provides crucial information that can help you steer the negotiation in the right direction.

6. Look for Opportunities for Mutual Gain

Many business people think of negotiations as a competition in which one side wins and one side loses. However, butting heads right out of the gate won’t usually get you anywhere. This was another tactic commonly used by many famous politicians, particularly Nikita Krushchev in regards to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite being Kennedy’s opposite, he was willing to work peacefully toward a common goal.

7. Set Goals and Stick to Them

Teddy Roosevelt was well known for many things, bit among them was his reputation for being stubborn as a bull. He knew what was important to him and he was unwilling to budge on important issues. This doesn’t mean you have to enter negotiations without the willingness to concede at time, but it does mean that you should determine your walk-away point and never concede on things that are most important to you.