Thursday, March 1, 2012

Negotiation Tactics 101

Negotiation is one of the fun parts of my job. It ranks right there above beating brickbreaker for the 5 bajillionth time while I take a massive dump and a few notches below seeing the clock tick past 4:30 and think, "finally, i can make my escape". what do i like about it? i think it's the competitive spirit it breeds, the winning and losing -- as long as i win. whether you are a cap mkts monkey, an M&A monkey, an aged and withered monkey, a young spring chicken monkey or just a chimpanzee in a zoo who nabbed some poor schmuck's ipad, you'll probably have some opportunities to negotiate here and there, and even if not, you can always practice with your family, boss, credit card company, whatever. so no matter what the occasion may call are some helpful things i do to help me make sure that the other side has shit their pants after I'm finished with them:
  • be prepared (think: market surveys, precedents, understanding basic concepts, reasoning for the points you want and don't want, thinking of circumstances that will favor your position etc.)
  • have specific goals that you must meet
  • make arguments based on logic and reason, not just for the sake of the position
  • craft your arguments as addressing the underlying "issues" rather than just restating your position (i.e., import why getting "x" will make both you and them happier, better, cooler)
  • be prepared with alternatives you would be ready to accept and make them look foolish
  • be prepared with hypotheticals that are realistic...or at least plausible, to back up your position
  • use the "off-market" bomb appropriately
  • remember your negotiating leverage and wield appropriately
  • remember your client's goals
  • try not to be glib, condescending or patronizing, but the exact opposite
  • if you ever reach an impasse or start talking in circles, just stick a pin in it (e.g., say, "we'll take it back to our client" or "we'll think about that", while thinking, "fuck you dick-licker, we're not going to take that comment because you are obviously missing chromosomes")
  • if you ever get caught without a good response, also stick a pin in it
  • remember: on commercial points, you should have a general idea based on your commercial leverage and position as to where the negotiation will end up - your goal here is to get to a little better than that point in an efficient amount of time (your clients will be happy you are not wasting their time) and to try and make the other side look stupid; on legal points, no one will care and everyone will probably be yawning most of the time, so try and be efficient by using the points above
i would note that these tactics are good for discussions mostly with lawyers or other professionals, dealing with business negotiations is a completely different ball game. i find that like 900% of the time, pure business clients express a general disdain for lawyers, demean and belittle their role, while completely misunderstanding their own positions and how they need to get to those positions. there's a reason people don't do hundred or even ten million dollar deals on term sheets and handshakes. someone is gonna get fucked. anyway, cunt-licking clients will be the titular topic for another post to come...i digress.

In terms of negotiations that corporate monkey lawyers will likely be a part of, for the curious ones, they can take many forms. It's not all fancy shmancy like you'd see in the movie, "the negotiator", or some show like "the good wife". Some might just be over the phone between you and some other unlucky douchebag. Some just might a ping-pong of drafts back and forth. If you are ever lucky enough to have a cross-border deal with lots of...ahem...let's say "exotic" jurisdictions, your negotiation could remind you of "lost in translation", an S&M show terribly gone wrong, or just make you think....

what the moustache

Anyway, so here is how i would be describe negotiations a CML may encounter in my best 9th grade "show-not-tell" language (I got straight B+'s in English by the way):

  • some can be short, some can be tedious, like pinching a painful loaf that turns out to be just a pellet
  • protracted negotiations where the lawyers nitpick at every little, well, nit, are typically terrible, like picking the ticks off a monkey's back with your dickhole; who cares?! 
  • sometimes people take the think-of-hypotehtical approach to the extreme...theoreticals plausibilities make-up-wordiness.  It can be ludicrous and turns into just a cock show to flex your mental muscles against each other, and of course, all because this job is so inane we have nothing better to do; it's like the perfect storm of boredom, stress and dissatisfaction have brewed us into fortune telling gypsies predicting every fucking stupid circumstance that could happen but which no one will ever care about later.
  • can't really say that much, a lot of times i'll be taking blog notes in the meeting if i'm not talking
  • you can spot the good lawyers and good lawyering: it's like a twisted alchemy, turning shit into gold, and then cramming it down the other monkey's throat
  • a lot of it is also about being on the sidelines: watching the principals fight and talk about 'interesting' commercial points (everything becomes interesting at some point in your simian lifespan), and then they sick their dogs on each other, their tick-picking, shit-eating monkey-dogs to twirl it out. I have seen principals texting each other under the table taking bets as to which dog would win. wow.
  • linsane in the membrane

1 comment:

Monkey away: