It’s the time of year that we are all reflecting on so many things for which we have to be thankful, like family, friends, clients like you … and football. Or is it fútbol?
Living up to our reputation as your favorite firm in Texas, allow me to gloat a bit about the Dallas Cowboys’ current winning streak. And apologies to those of you in Cincinnati, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, New York (again), and Indianapolis. And yes, I already know that I will be hearing lots from those of you in Tampa and Green Bay -- and more than lots from those of you in Philadelphia! Go Cowboys.
Now that I think about it, perhaps I should instead be living up to our reputation as your favorite firm in the nation, and gloating more about our U.S. Men’s national soccer team. What a great win over Iran – great display of tenacity and sportsmanship. And yes, for all of you Dutch clients, feel free to call and gloat all the more. Go America.
Note that I make no mention or gloat about my alma mater, Texas A&M. We lawyers are strategic like that.
Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday. We are thankful for you …even those of you whose favorite teams beat ours in football.
Early in my legal career, a mentor advised me to take time each month to set aside the study of law and read a book about something else I was interested in learning. Over the years, I have enjoyed the hunt for new books to read almost as much as reading them. As we approach the end of this year, I would like to share with you one of my favorite books and hopefully entice you to add it to your reading list for the new year.
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It is a fascinating study of negotiation by Chris Voss, the former International Lead Hostage Negotiator for the FBI. The book begins with a mock hostage negotiation between Voss and Harvard Law School Professor, Robert Mnookin, the Director of the Harvard Negotiation Research Project and author of Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate and When to Fight. What follows is a fascinating study incorporating the rational and psychological techniques Voss used in hostage negotiations around the world applied to everything from multimillion-dollar business deals to negotiating the price of a car he wanted to buy for himself. According to Voss, negotiating with terrorists and negotiating a business deal are one and the same.
Voss challenges the tendency to just split down the middle and teaches techniques to ensure that you know how to talk about what you want and get exactly what you need. Voss begins with the concept of understanding that our minds have two operating systems, the irrational and the rational. Neither of them is fully in control, so humans are not fully animalistic nor are they completely rational. Understanding and incorporating techniques what will drive both parts of the mind is the idea behind Voss’s negotiation strategy.
Voss describes his negotiating style as psychological judo. Every interaction with your counterpart is part of the negotiation beginning with your first introduction. Voss explains techniques such as calibrated questions, mirroring, and other tools for knocking his counterpart off his game and getting him to work against himself throughout the negotiation process. But when final negotiations begin, Voss swears by a system he calls the Ackerman model (because it came from Mike Ackerman, an ex-CIA agent who founded a kidnap-for-ransom consulting company based out of Miami).
The Ackerman model is an offer/counter-offer method, similar to what we use at mediation. It is a very effective system for beating the usual lackluster bargaining dynamic which has the predictable result of meeting in the middle.
The systematized process has six steps:
- Set your target price;
- Set your first offer at 65% of your target price;
- Calculate 3 raises of decreasing increments to 85%, 95% and 100%;
- Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying “no” to get the other side to counter before you increase your offer;
- When calculating the final amount, use precise, non-round numbers (say $37,983 rather than $38,000, it gives your offer credibility and weight); and
- On your final number, throw in a nonmonetary item that they probably don’t want to show you are at your limit.
The genius of this system is that it incorporates the psychological tactics discussed throughout Never Split the Difference (reciprocity, extreme anchors, loss aversion, and so on), but does so naturally.
Understanding and implementing the Ackerman model in mediation negotiations can provide a great framework for achieving positive results for our clients. I invite anyone interested in learning more to read Voss’ book. A fun alternative? Read the book for great stories about bank robbers, terrorists, and the world of kidnap-for-ransom.
Mark your calendars!
And make plans
to join us for the
C H I C A G O !
Continuing Education Seminar
Insurance Claims Professionals,
and In-House Counsel
includes the program and materials, breakfast and lunch (on us!), and a TLU t-shirt!
approved through the
Texas Department of Insurance and the State Bar of Texas!
More details and registration information coming soon. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago on April 28th!
For more information or to be added to our Chicago TLU mailing list, contact Katy Link.
Learn more about this delicious holiday recipe here.
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 c. whole milk
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 2 4-oz. semisweet chocolate bars, chopped
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. instant espresso or coffee
- 15 jumbo marshmallows, plus more for garnish
- 8 oz. Irish cream liqueur (such as Bailey's), optional
- Shaved chocolate, for garnish
Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder in a 6-quart slow cooker. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to incorporate. Whisk in the heavy cream, chopped chocolate, vanilla extract, and instant espresso.
Cover and cook on low heat, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is hot and well combined, about 2 hours. Add the marshmallows and cook until the marshmallows begin to melt into the hot chocolate, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Irish cream liqueur, if using.
Set the slow cooker to warm. Ladle the hot chocolate into your favorite holiday serving mugs, and top with more marshmallows and shaved chocolate, if you like.