Reasonable goals are important in any negotiation, and it’s the commander’s job to set them. But that begs the question: When was the last time you worked for a reasonable boss?
Hey, no comment. I got my pension to think about.
Seriously, while there are always exceptions, even the best negotiator is going to have to rely more on luck than on skills to reach an unreasonable goal.
You can’t set a reasonable goal unless you know what you want. The more specific you are about your wants before you go into the negotiations, the better you’ll do in the end. Think of it this way: If your goal is just to get the guy off the bridge . . . well, let’s not go there.
Setting the specific goal is part of knowing the territory; you can’t do it unless you’ve scouted out the area and done your homework. If you haven’t, then you aren’t in a position to negotiate—and position is everything, as we’ll discuss in the next chapter. But let me just beat the reasonable boss thing to death. It’s important in a negotiation to be realistic beforehand as you set your goals. If you’re trying to buy a new house, it makes no sense to think you’re going to negotiate the price down to a hundredth of the asking price.
Some people try and use unreasonableness as a negotiating tactic. Personally, I’ve never found that a very powerful tool. It immediately establishes that the other side is the only pro in the room, putting the negotiating team on uneven grounds. Worse, it’s pretty easy to deflect from the other side. (We’ll also talk about that in Chapter 7, “Is He a Psycho, or Just a Maniac?”) But look, if it works for you, that’s cool. Just remember there’s a difference between whacked-out as a tactic and whacked-out as a goal. Use any tactic you want, but keep your goal realistic or you won’t achieve it.