Should You Negotiate Like Donald Trump?

My previous blog said many people underestimated him. You can read it here. It’s equally foolish to overestimate or carelessly copy him.

I’m not judging – either positively or negatively - his policies. That’s not my job. My only mission is to teach you and others how to negotiate.

WARNING #1: YOU CAN’T EFFECTIVELY USE MUCH OF HIS STRATEGY.

His business success was obvious, and some of his presidential negotiations worked well. However, it’s too soon to tell their long-term effects. His short-term success occurred because:

  • He’s the world’s most powerful person.
  • He’s extraordinarily unpredictable.
  • He created an extremely dominant and aggressive image with successful business deals, a savage election campaign, a best-selling book, and a television show.

You don’t have remotely as strong a position, nor do you have such a scary image, nor can you take all the steps he’s taken.

WARNING #2: HIS STRATEGY WORKS ONLY FOR PURE BARGAINING.

He’s a master bargainer, but a terrible joint problem-solver. Pure Bargaining is a win-lose game based on power. Joint problem-solving is a win-win game based on trust and information sharing. Nearly everything that builds power reduces trust and information-sharing and vice versa.

WARNING #3: HIS STRATEGY PREVENTS DEVELOPING GOOD RELATIONSHIPS.

He beats up people and enjoys doing it. He even tried to trademark, “You’re fired.”

People don’t trust or share information with him because he’s so deceptive, competitive, aggressive, and power-oriented.

WHEN SHOULD YOU NEGOTIATE LIKE TRUMP? 

The only intelligent answer is, “It depends on the situation.”  Don’t decide before answering many questions:

  1. How much do your interests conflict?The more they conflict, the more appropriate bargaining becomes.
  2. How powerful are you? It pays to bargain when you’re strong, to problem-solve when you’re weak.
  3. How important is the long-term relationship?The more important it is, the more you should usually emphasize problem-solving.
  4. How hard will implementing the agreement be? If it will be easy, bargaining generally pays. The harder implementation will be, the more you should try for win-win.
  5. Which approach are they using?If they’re bargaining, and you’re problem-solving, you’ll probably lose, at least in the short term, and you’ll probably resent it. Conversely, if you’re bargaining, and they’re problem-solving, you’ll probably have a short-term victory, but you may damage or destroy the relationship.
  6. Can you CREDIBLY copy his strategy? Don’t try it if you’d be too uncomfortable. You’ll just mess things up.

If you’re thinking of copying him, carefully answer all these questions, and discuss your answers with a good negotiator. Then use only the parts of Trump’s strategy that fit your situation, image, and personality.

This blog is based on my newest book, Negotiate to Win: Gaining the Psychological Edge, 2d Edition. For a free Kindle copy of it click HERE.

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