Icebergs, Hairy arms, and Oranges

Two weeks ago I shared some high-level learnings from my week at Wharton on the topics of Influence, Persuasion, and Negotiation.

If we dive a bit deeper, we find there are 4 fundamental steps to any successful negotiation (according to The Art of Woo):

  1. Preparation
  2. Confront the 5 Barriers
  3. Make Your Pitch
  4. Gain Commitment

Today I want to share 3 stories Professor Sarah Light told us when it comes to the Step 1 - Preparation.

Icebergs 🧊

The first story revolves around the concept of 'Icebergs'. This metaphor beautifully illustrates that what we perceive as the other party's wants in a negotiation is often just the tip of the iceberg.

As you can The visible part of the iceberg, known as the 'Position', represents the explicit demands or statements made by the negotiating party (e.g., "I can only pay US$ 20,000 for a car").

However, the larger, unseen part of the iceberg, referred to as 'underlying interests', represents the deeper motivations and desires that drive these demands (e.g., "I am passionate about driving the latest electric vehicle because I want to contribute to environmental conservation").

Takeaway: Always probe deeper and ask insightful questions to uncover the other party's underlying interests

Hairy arms 💪🏻

The second story takes us back to the days of Disney animation. The animators would often find themselves in disagreements with senior creative directors over minor details, such as the color of a character's shirt.

To circumvent these constant disputes, the animators devised a clever strategy: they would deliberately make the characters' arms excessively hairy. When the senior creatives pointed out this anomaly, the animators would agree to 'compromise' and make the changes.

This strategy resulted in fewer comments on other aspects of the animation, thereby reducing the overall number of disputes.

Takeaway: The act of 'compromising' can sometimes be more significant than the actual issue being compromised on

Oranges 🍊

2 sisters were fighting over 1 orange. The mom forced them to cut the orange in two to be “fair.”

Sister A only used the orange peel for a science project and threw out the orange flesh.

Sister B was hungry and threw out the orange peel and only ate the orange flesh.

Takeaway: Never assume your initial hypothesis is correct

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