53 - The Joy of Negotiating with Terrorists

Ok, maybe not terrorists, but people in general. We speak to Alain Lempereur - Alan B. Slifka Professor of Conflict Resolution at Brandeis University and Affiliate Faculty and Executive Committee Member of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – about how to negotiate, how to find common ground with multiple parties, and how to use… joy, yes joy, to succeed in your toughest situations.

Release Date: July 6, 2022

[00:00:00] Speaker: Warning. This podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here, and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:16] Alexa Baggio: Just another day in the office.

[00:00:18] Tyson Mackenzie: There's nothing better than a bunch people who work in HR getting around the table and sharing these stories. We have this out-of-body experience in HR where you're [unintelligible 00:00:25].

[00:00:26] Alexa: It's not that bad.

[00:00:26] Tyson: It's not that bad. It's not.

[00:00:28] Alexa: Come hang out with Tyson and I on this podcast. We'll make you laugh.

[00:00:31] Tyson: This is the People Problems Podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson Mackenzie.

[00:00:38] Alexa: Bonjour, Tyson. What is up?

[00:00:41] Tyson: Bonjour. Oh my gosh. Hello.

[00:00:44] Alexa: Hi, from France.

[00:00:46] Tyson: I need to know all the things about your move and how you're settling in.

[00:00:50] Alexa: Everyone keeps going just my move, which is really funny because, to me, I'm not moving. I'm just permanently traveling, which is not the same thing. For me, it's not. I didn't move all my stuff to France. I just am living on the road. I'm doing full digital nomad. No final destination in mind.

[00:01:09] Tyson: All right, how's the relo going?

[00:01:11] Alexa: It's good. Thank you for HR-ing that.


Alexa: It's good. It's fun. It's awesome. I'm really excited for this, one, because I've always worked from home. I've always worked on the road as I've traveled around mostly the US for anyone who's listened to this or watched this. My background changes a lot just because it's the benefit of being a flexible worker. It's like if I want to go to Utah for the weekend and work a Friday from Utah, I can do that because I get my shit done, and it doesn't matter. What's interesting about this is the big adjustment is obviously the time zone, so my day has been completely switched.

I wake up early this time. I go for a hike or a run or bop around town or whatever, then my workday starts at 11:00 AM or noon this time, and it is now almost midnight as I record this. It's a little weird to adjust to working. I always work later in the evenings. It's a little weird to have your day run up into your bedtime instead of the opposite where when you wake up, if you have early meetings or a big day, you're like, "My mornings are run into my day." That's a bit of an adjustment. Honestly, I did this because it was time to simplify life. I think new perspectives, new places, new activities, for me, it's just time to do that. I'm excited to do all of this from the road and tell you all about it. As I was packing my suitcase, I was thinking--

[00:02:35] Tyson: I can't wait to live vicariously through you.

[00:02:37] Alexa: I hope you do. I hope I inspire you to get out of Canada with Rosie and come visit me at some point. Obviously, I'll see you in California in a couple of months. [crosstalk]

[00:02:47] Tyson: Absolutely.

[00:02:48] Alexa: Yes. For me, I think it's interesting because I was packing up and I was starting to think places are a little bit stuff. You don't realize how much gets built in when you live in a place. I don't mean the physical crap because obviously, yes, that matters, and we have way too much of that crap. More so it's interesting because you don't realize all the little interactions, and the little relationships, and the little obligations, and the little habits, and all the things, they fill a day in a space. For me, this is about simplifying my lifestyle and just doing some cool stuff and putting this whole remote work across the globe thing to the test. Stay tuned.

[00:03:30] Tyson: I love it. No, I can't wait to hear all your stories, and I hope you inspire some other folks to take advantage of that if they have the opportunity to.

[00:03:39] Alexa: If I inspire one person to do this, I'll call it a whim. You're good, Tyson? All is well? I'm about to--

[00:03:45] Tyson: All is well.

[00:03:47] Alexa: Go ahead.

[00:03:48] Tyson: You're about to what? [chuckles]

[00:03:49] Alexa: Nothing. It was going to be an ugly transition anyway.

[00:03:53] Tyson: It's all good. Very quick update on my friends, not nearly as exciting as moving to France, but my child just started to crawl. I'm officially ready to put her into daycare. I love her to death, but there are people that are trained to take care of children, and it's not me. You know what? You judge moms before you have kids and it's like, "How is it possible that you let your kid eat the cat food? Then you're in that position, and it just happens so fast. There you are. Good thing I have high-quality cat food for my first baby. Anyways, I think that's where we're at on my end.

[00:04:39] Alexa: Amazing. [laughs] Who knows? Maybe it's got some good nutrients in it or something.

[00:04:46] Tyson: I'm sure it does. I'm sure it does. [chuckles]

[00:04:48] Alexa: Amazing. I have no idea how to transition us to [unintelligible 00:04:52] the news from your daughter eating cat food, but here we are.


Alexa: Our story this week is, really, honestly, maybe more for you to talk about Tyson because I'm very curious to get your thoughts, but this was a bit of a law change in Ontario. It's called the Ontario Right to Disconnect policy. I believe this actually was posted recently, so this is not today by any means, but it says starting today. In the last week or so. Ontario employees with 25 or more employees are required to have a written policy on disconnecting from work after hours. This includes messages, emails, phone calls, and video calls. The law does not apply to federally regulated employees such as banks.

The province announced the legislation last year as a way to protect employee privacy amid a rise in remote and hybrid work. As The Globe and Mail reports employers are creating broad strokes policies instead of specifics on how and when employees can log off. Now a law, and everyone's using broad language to circumvent said law. What do we think, Tyson?

[00:06:06] Tyson: Typical as to expect. It's just interesting that they felt that this law was the priority to create. It's interesting. In Ontario, there's been a lot of employment law that goes forward, but then stops very quickly. The biggest one that happened recently was actually a very useful law, which was the Pay Transparency Act. That would have allowed a lot of-- Not being able to discipline people for talking about salaries, having a post-job pay bans for job postings, that type of stuff. There was a lot more legislation around the Pay Transparency. That was some legislation that I think would have done a lot of good.

Then here we come with this random legislation, which is this Right to Disconnect, which basically is just saying, "You can't be forced to respond to an email or communicate after work hours." It's nice in theory. Then it becomes, "Who's the exception? Do we actually do this?" Then as a manager, you might be thinking, "Oh, wait. What if I have to send an email after work? Am I allowed to do that?" They're still not clear about what's really going on from that respect. Like you said, companies come in, they create these broad stroke policies, et cetera.

I should caveat this very quickly in that we just very recently had an election in Ontario. We just voted for our premier, which is like the governor in the US. That individual runs our province. Of course, the provinces are responsible for these types of legislations. Not saying that Uncle Dougie [laughs] just put this in place. He also raised our speed limits on the highways to 110 kilometers per hour. All these stuff that just happened right around the election--

[00:07:57] Alexa: You won't be texting your boss from work while you're speeding down the highway?

[00:08:01] Tyson: No, absolutely not. I'm rambling here at this point, but I just wanted to add that caveat in that we did just recently have an election. Sometimes we see some of these goofy things come into play. It sounds nice. Right to Disconnect. [crosstalk]

[00:08:15] Alexa: I actually don't think that sounds that nice. I think this is ridiculous. I think this is the equivalent of passing a law that says like, "When you're married, you're only allowed to ask your husband to do so many chores." There is no law that is going to implement healthy boundaries between an employee and a manager or the expectations and the culture of a workplace and its employees. That is where those people to decide and for those people to work out. It's the same reason those employers like, "Yes, we'll just use super vague language, so we can get around this." This is local government on one hand being like, "Let's pass something that gets some buzzwords and makes it look like we did something," like our Don't Say Gay bill in Florida.

This is just crap for attention that makes it look like you did something when you didn't actually do anything to change anything systematic. On the other hand, this is an example of when policy isn't the answer. If people in this industry ship for this all the time, like, "Oh, why do we have so many policies? Why are there so many rules? It's like, "Because it came up. It was a problem, so we slapped a policy on it." It's like, "No. Let's get to the root cause here, guys. Why do so many people seem to have a problem with this?" I would imagine it goes both ways. I would imagine it's not just the company being like, "Oh, we let our managers text you at midnight." I'm assuming [chuckles] it's probably a much deeper problem than that. I agree that this is floofy.

[00:09:42] Tyson: Totally.

[00:09:42] Alexa: I think it's local political crap, but it highlights an interesting example of government should step in when the free markets can't do it on behalf of the consumer in a way that holds the--

[00:09:54] Tyson: i.e. Pay Transparency Act, something that would have been useful.

[00:09:55] Alexa: Yes, exactly. Things like, "Let's put the on a big Gulp drink like Michael Bloomberg did in New York." It's like, "I don't think consumers know that you've hidden 2,000 calories in 4 ounces of liquid here. Let's make it mandatory to tell them that." That kind of stuff I think is helpful and useful. This ain't it. This ain't it.

[00:10:18] Tyson: Yes, agreed. Because we've also talked about the need for flexibility as well, especially being remote. I have a new baby. Maybe sending an email after bedtime at 8:00 PM is actually very much ideal for me. That's something that I would talk to my manager about. Oh, what do you know? Have a conversation. Those are the types of things that you iron out from a relationship perspective with your manager or employee versus having to have a law. Anyway--

[00:10:44] Alexa: Get me expectations, and you don't know what they are. Certainly can't meet them and keep them if you don't communicate them as they change.

[00:10:50] Tyson: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:10:51] Alexa: It's midnight here for me, if my team were to text me right now, I wouldn't be pissed. They also know I'm in Europe. They also know I've set my schedule to only take meetings-

[00:10:58] Tyson: That's the the thing.

[00:10:59] Alexa: -after 8:00 PM this time if can. Obviously, I run the business--

[00:11:02] Tyson: The time zones. Yes.

[00:11:02] Alexa: We got to make an exception. We got to make an exception like, "Oh, I'm sorry. You were in--"

[00:11:06] Tyson: Is the Ministry of Labor going to come knocking on my door if I send an email after 5:00 PM? I don't even know how that's going to work. Interesting.

[00:11:13] Alexa: To someone who's in London, where it's 11:00, I don't know. Slippery slope. All right.

[00:11:18] Tyson: Very interesting.

[00:11:20] Alexa: Yes, very interesting. I'm sure there was a lot of negotiation involved in getting this passed. Speaking of negotiation, look at my transition, it's time to introduce our guest. Our guest today, whose name, I already apologized in advance of this episode, I was going to butcher. I'll let him say it beautifully when he joins us here, is Alain. You want to say it, Tyson?

[00:11:39] Tyson: Lempereur.

[00:11:40] Alexa: Thank you. Oh, you did it--

[00:11:41] Tyson: Did I get it? Lempereur.

[00:11:41] Alexa: All right. Yes, you did it. You did it. You put your French on it a little bit. All right. Alain is the Alan B. Slifka professor of conflict revolution at Brandeis University and affiliated faculty and executive committee member of the program on negotiation at Harvard Law School. He says he could have been a tough lawyer or an abstract philosopher, but he found negotiation and became a concrete philosopher and a nice lawyer. Alain, welcome to the podcast. How are you?

[00:12:08] Alain Lempereur: Very well. Thank you. It's good to see you, Alex and Tyson to be with you on your show.

[00:12:14] Alexa: Likewise, thanks for being here.

[00:12:15] Tyson: Thanks for being here.

[00:12:17] Alexa: Yes. Tell us a little bit about your foray into negotiation. I have lots of questions. We're going to lay out the general principles for people. We're going to do some fun stuff with this topic. Tell us a little bit about how you got into this.

[00:12:29] Alain: That doesn't get me younger. I started in this field in 1993, believe it or not. I met a wonderful person. His name is Roger Fisher. Many people in our field have been influenced by Roger Fisher. He wrote a book with Bill Ury you may have heard of called Getting to Yes.

[00:12:49] Alexa: Yes, of course. [crosstalk]

[00:12:49] Alain: Roger-- I took his course, and it really changed my life. Because I thought I would be a philosopher of law because that's what I was trained to become. Then I said, "Oh, wow. Negotiation is a way actually of practical philosophy or being in the real world and helping people solve their conflict," so I loved it. I made it my life. I became also a mediator. I worked in the Great Lakes Region in Africa, not in Canada, but in Africa, trying to help parties resolve their differences. Little by little, I also worked in building the field, trying to identify where does negotiation come from, who developed it, et cetera.

[00:13:39] Alexa: Oh my God, there's so much to unpack there. Very rarely does a guest tell us how they got here by being like, "First, I was a philosopher, and then I was a lawyer, and then I was in conflict [chuckles] resolution in Africa, and here I am just naturally." [chuckles] Yes, we might have to unpack that a little bit. Do us a favor, Alain, for people who are not familiar with negotiation, let's set up some basic principles here for people to just understand the lay of the land. When we talk about negotiation, let's just define that very quickly. What are we talking about when we talk about negotiation?

[00:14:14] Alain: I'm sure that Tyson is negotiating a lot with your daughter. Tyson, what's her name?

[00:14:24] Tyson: Rosie.

[00:14:24] Alexa: Rosie.

[00:14:25] Tyson: Rosie.

[00:14:26] Alain: Rosie. I'm sure Rosie knows how to negotiate with you, and you have a hard time sometimes saying no to her. Then what is she doing? That's why I'm sometimes saying that young children or even babies are already negotiating because they make requests or they may scream to get something. As a dad, we're trying to do our best to satisfy the other side. Maybe as we grow older, we're trying to maybe scream less and find other ways of negotiating. Really, you see, as human beings, life is about negotiating. Every time you depend on someone else and that you need someone else's help to get something done, you negotiate.

It's really a process of joint problem solving with people. That's why I like the name of your show. It's about people. First, you need 1 or 2 or 10 or 100. You have a series of people who are faced with problems, they will express different demands, and negotiation is that process through which they go. Hopefully, at the end, they get an agreement. It's really everywhere. Not simply [crosstalk]

[00:15:42] Alexa: Where there are people, there will be problems, which is most of what we're talking about on the pod.

[00:15:47] Alain: Sometimes you could solve your problems by yourself. You don't need to negotiate. Then many times, you need someone else's help to get things done. Sometimes you negotiate with yourself.

[00:16:00] Tyson: I was going to say I think I negotiate with myself sometimes when I'm thinking like, "I could eat the chocolate chip cookies, or I could go for a walk outside. I think maybe I'll eat the chocolate chip cookie then go for a walk outside."

[00:16:15] Alain: The example you gave, "Should I send an email after the hours now that it's maybe prohibited?" Maybe I do it, but then I break the law. I don't do it, but then I need to wait until tomorrow morning when my kids will be screaming. We don't stop negotiating with ourselves, not simply with others but with ourselves.

[00:16:37] Tyson: Absolutely.

[00:16:37] Alexa: I could go down that rabbit hole all day. Fascinating to think about this just as the process with which two people with different demands work together to come to some sort of conclusion. Now let's talk about, again, for people who've never taken a course who have never done the academic exercise here, if you can for us really quickly, just give us the general maybe process or procedures for how people work through negotiation. What is the process of a successful negotiation?

[00:17:07] Alain: I think we need to distinguish instinctive negotiators, we are all instinctively negotiators, and then maybe a more responsible approach to negotiation. How can we describe different types of instinctive negotiators? There are the core six types. Very competitive people. They say, "My way or the highway." Imagine, we might have in mind the former president of the United States. That was his style. Very strong. Very competitive. That's one approach. Then you have other people who tend to be a little too nice. Whatever the other side is asking, "I'll do it." They are more cooperative or sometimes accommodating. Then a third style is "We will meet halfway." That's very often what we call compromising in negotiation.

[00:18:01] Alexa: That's what getting to yes opens with as a bad idea.

[00:18:04] Alain: Yes. You will see that actually, you could do better than just compromising.

[00:18:11] Alexa: Don't split the difference.

[00:18:12] Alain: The difference is-- You describe that wonderfully at the beginning of the show. You start discussing with your employer what your needs are. You start saying, "You know what? I don't mind actually working after 5:00 PM or after 8:00 PM because my kid now is asleep." We will negotiate together that I may not work between 3:00 and 8:00 but I will do it between 8:00 and 10:00.

[00:18:40] Alexa: That's such a good example and also why that law is crap. [laughs]

[00:18:44] Alain: Normally, if two people talk, they could find a way out that is satisfactory for both. It's not I will do a little bit what you ask, and you will do a little bit what I ask, that's a compromise. No, we could probably figure out together a plan that is what we call win-win. It's the best for you and the best for me. That's really what a more responsible approach to negotiation is. We really dig deeper about what the needs of the two people, their underlying interests are. We are creative about how to solve an issue. We are also trying to find legitimacy, and therefore, it's problem-solving, which is much better than compromising. We find something much better than the middle way, so to speak.

[00:19:36] Tyson: It's not just like splitting the pie. It's about, how do we almost get, each get a bigger piece of the pie. Through relationship building and conversation that you do through negotiation, you actually could find a solution that not only just works for each of you, but maybe there's a better solution that you didn't even think of where you're both getting more than what was even on the table in the first place.

[00:20:02] Alain: Yes. You see, Tyson, that's why negotiation is a process. I don't know in advance what solution we will come up with because if I hear what is important to you and you hear what is important to me, certainly say like Archimedes in his bath, "Eureka, I found a solution." We found a solution together. We are pleased because we didn't think about this earlier. That's really the joy of negotiating, so to speak. Is you come up with an idea that no one had at the beginning, and it's communication, listening to you, listening to each other, finding ways of bridging the original gap.

[00:20:45] Alexa: It reminds me of-- we did an episode a little bit about how sales tactics can apply to HR. We had a guest who had had some experience with sales, and we were talking about this concept of finding the pain. Which is you cannot sell something to someone if they do not have a problem. You have to find the problem, what's their pain, what's their problem? What I'm hearing you say almost sounds like you just have to identify two different pains or two different problems, desires, needs, and then you have to go through this process to figure out how to make them work.

My question would be, you said it's a process, are there common steps to the process? Are there steps that people miss a lot that make it hard to negotiate? I would imagine there's some shortcuts that least instinct negotiators [crosstalk]

[00:21:31] Alain: Yes. [crosstalk] to talk about this book that I published with colleagues a few years ago is called The First Move.

[00:21:37] Tyson: All right.

[00:21:38] Alain: In that book we say there are a lot of first moves that will help you identify a better solution, build a stronger relationship and have a smoother process. Very often people go into a negotiation without preparation. We have one chapter, "How do you prepare for negotiation? How do you make sure you think about the people who will be at the table?" You start thinking about the problems and possible solutions and the process. These three pillars we already talked about. That's one move. That's the mother or the father of all moves in negotiation. Hopefully, you have 50 minutes. If you don't have 50 minutes, maybe at least you have 5 minutes.

Before we talk, I put a few words on a piece of paper just to make sure that a good structure what I would say. Another maybe move that we want to think about is listen before you speak. You are alluding to the connection between sales and negotiation. While good salespeople, they are really good listeners. They will really first ask questions. They will try to probe. If I'm trying to sell a car, I need to find the right car for the customer. "What do you need? Is it a second car? Do you have children? What kind of car do you have in mind?" The more I understand by listening and by doing what we call active listening, restating what the other person is saying, the more I start really grasping the other side's needs.

You see, by instinct people have the tendency to speak first. That's another thing, maybe listen first. Let's say, people are very angry. Maybe the mind instinctive move is say, "Could you please calm down?" In general, no one calms down if you say calm down, if you give an order. To acknowledge emotions, that might be a better way before problem-solving. I could go on and on. You see, there are a series of good first moves that will really get you more easily to success. Does that mean it always works? Of course not, but you increase the chance of success.

[00:23:50] Tyson: When you're preparing, so some things that you'd obviously want to think about maybe what are you offering? What is your like, "Take it or leave it. This is where I'm going to back out in this situation"? You also want to be thinking and trying to maybe, not guess, but assume what the other person's is as well, right?

[00:24:14] Alain: Yes. You see, this is so important as a negotiator. One concept we haven't talked about that's really underlying in the entire conversation is the concept of empathy. When I'm preparing for negotiation, I'm not simply thinking, "What are my interests here?" I'm trying to hypothesize what might be important for the other person. How could I help the other person also reach a solution that is good for them? That's certainly very, very important in preparation. There's another aspect you just mentioned, which is the famous red line. By instinct, let's say you buy a house or you want a good job offer. You will think, "That's my budget, the maximum amount I could pay for that house," or, "That's maybe the minimum amount that I would accept for a salary. That's instinctive, your red line.

Minimum or maximum number, depending on which side you are on. I think that what a first move or what you do in preparation is also to prepare what we call your anchor, the first number you would put on the table. If you want an increase of salary, let's say, of 5%, that's your red line, maybe you need to ask 15%, and when you ask for 15%, you need to explain why 15% because that's the average of increase in Ontario during this year. You see, you have also good reasons of how you anchor. These are examples. As we prepare, we start having some of these milestones that will help us at the negotiation table.

[00:25:57] Alexa: I'm actually just thinking about this today because I was talking to someone about a salary and I was like, "We seem to be-

[00:26:04] Alain: We all do.

[00:26:05] Alexa: -stuck here."

[00:26:05] Tyson: Did they highball you?

[00:26:07] Alexa: No. It was a weird situation where she'd clearly been coached to not ever speak about her existing compensation, and I had already quoted her a very tight range. It was a first conversation. I was like, "I actually am not asking you this because I'm going to change the range. You've heard it, it's a $5,000 difference we're talking about that I just quoted you," and she had clearly been coached to be like, "Never talk about how much you make." I was like, "I need more context because I don't want to lowball you. It's definitely not going to be worse than what I just quoted you, but now it's not going to be higher because I've got nothing to anchor this to."

[00:26:43] Alain: I remember when I negotiated for my mortgage, the interest rate, my own bank didn't give me a good rate.

[00:26:53] Alexa: I love that you tried to negotiate it.

[00:26:55] Alain: I had another rate from another bank, and you could say, "I won't tell you what the other bank said." Of course, I told them what the other bank did. I said, "The least you could do is to match an offer from another bank." Sometimes it could backfire because you could feel that the other is coercing you. It could be threatening you to leave. Sometimes it's just a reality check. Maybe there are elements that I don't have that the other side will--

[00:27:23] Alexa: I said, "Because if you're making double this, I'm going to try to make this as rich and offer as possible. I'm going to do that anyway, but there might be some things that I can go talk to my investors about or talk to the team about that we would do to make sure this is also something I think you're going to keep for a while. Because if I lowball you, you're going to leave." It was a whole thing. The more information for every player, the better, I would assume, no. Are there rules around that?

[00:27:47] Tyson: I think, unfortunately though, I will just say on that point, Alexa, is that I think that there are some bad players out there-

[00:27:54] Alexa: Absolutely.

[00:27:54] Tyson: -who have taken advantage of situations--

[00:27:55] Alexa: Of course.

[00:27:56] Tyson: I know--

[00:27:56] Alexa: I said that to her. I said, "Let me go first. I don't want you to think I'm going to--" Because the range listed on that LinkedIn post is $50,000 swing. I said, "Based on your experience and what we've talked about, I think you're in this range." Give or take, there's performance and all these other things

[00:28:10] Tyson: Being transparent from that respect with the range is really good, but the problem is that some people will be like, "How much are you making now?" If they say $50,000, even though they're originally thinking $65,000, they'll be like, "Oh, win, we can get this person for $55,000, and that's why I think as a practice we don't--

[00:28:24] Alexa: That's why I said, "I'm not going to go below what I just quote you."

[00:28:28] Tyson: That's fine, but I think though, as a practice, recruiters don't typically ask for like, "What are you currently making right now?" Because they don't want to create that.

[00:28:37] Alexa: I get that.

[00:28:38] Tyson: [crosstalk]

[00:28:38] Alexa: It was more the lack of trust. Once I explained where I was coming from, that was the issue. Anyway, moving back to the topic at hand, one of the things that--

[00:28:46] Alain: On this question of salary negotiations or at least job offer negotiations, I want to offer two very quick points on this. I think that as a negotiator, I need to have more than one variable to discuss salary, more than just salary. It's where I will be working, what are the career opportunities. You see, moving from one variable-

[00:29:09] Alexa: You have equity.

[00:29:10] Alain: -to several variables.

[00:29:10] Alexa: It's stock, benefits, that total [crosstalk].

[00:29:12] Alain: That's what you want to do, and I think that that's a first quick point. That if you prepare for a negotiation, whether you are an employer or you're an employee, just get a few variables ready so that you come up with really an offer that is much stronger because you have these different dimensions. The second point I want to mention that is not very well known, I have a friend and colleague from the MIT, Jared Curhan, who developed this very strange concept of subjective value. Objective value, that's what we were just talking about. What are the terms? The salary terms? Tell me the package, the objective terms of the agreement. You know what Jared also evaluated is how do you feel. at the end of a job interview. Hey, that's an interesting man.

How do you feel when you were discussing with that person? You say, "What does feeling has to do with that? No. Actually, it's very important. How do you feel as a person? What did you feel about the relationship that you build here? Do you feel that people were creating a long-term solution? Do you feel the process was smooth. You know what, these four dimensions of what he called subjective value, he checked one year later. Because he had asked his graduates from the MIT. He checked one year later, and he wanted to see is it the amount of salary that is predicting whether or not someone is still working there. No, there is no linkage between how much you received and whether you're still working there and you like it, and you want to stay.

If one year ago in the job negotiation, you had a good feeling, you were happy about what's happening. You felt good about yourself, the relationship, the outcome, and the process. Guess what? Then there is a linkage. Now, it could predict, you weren't happy then. You're probably not working there anymore. It's terrible. Because you could see how much sometimes these first moments of contact you have with someone could be a good indicator of will that work or not. What Jared says is that subjective value, how you feel, has staying power more than the amount. I'm not saying underpaid people. I'm not saying that.

[00:31:39] Alexa: No one's saying that.

[00:31:41] Alain: Do you see that that's [crosstalk] think about.

[00:31:41] Alexa: Louder for the people in the back.

[00:31:45] Tyson: I love that. That's amazing.

[00:31:46] Alexa: Tyson and I talked about that all the time. First of all, speaking of salary negotiation, you got to be able to give someone a number or a raise, amount or talk to them and not feel like a dickhead and not feel like an asshole. "Hey, I'm going to give you a number that makes me not feel like an asshole, but also makes you feel valued and excited about the rest of this." It's not just the compensation. It's the entire piece of how we think about your value in relationships to the organization and your skill set, all these things. You're basically making the entire case for the whole movement of people versus HR and all these things.

[00:32:24] Tyson: That goes both ways, too. As someone who's, let's say, hiring, I don't want to necessarily just hire some-- If they're all like money, money, money, and that's all they care about. I like, you've done, Alexa, has put forward a very fair range, which is based off of what internal people are making, what the market's paying, all the research that people do when they put out these offers in good faith, and all they care about is the money. I'm like, "You know what, no. I want you to be providing value and to be interested in working here."

I know for me, I have my own guiding light for my own career. I'm not chasing a salary. I'm chasing my own vision and my own goals to try to achieve and become better. We want people like that working for us. It's not just like nickeling and diming me once I've given [crosstalk].

[00:33:12] Alexa: That was why it was so weird. Because this person had just gotten done telling me about how passionate they were about this industry and wanting to get back in, loving doing this kind of work I was going to hire them for. Then we just got stuck on this dollar amount. I was like, "If you trust that you're gonna get back to this profession, and you trust the conversation I just had with. You don't think I'm completely full of shit on the range I just offered you. I'm just asking for more data so I can build the best thing possible here." I was like, "Oh, I wonder if I would have trouble with this person trusting me."

[00:33:41] Tyson: [crosstalk]

[00:33:42] Alexa: This is a weird dynamic.

[00:33:45] Tyson: Your subjective value was already untrusting.

[00:33:47] Alexa: I was like, "Wait, what? I'm trying to hook you up. I'm trying to help you out. I'm trying to design something for you, and you're withholding data from me." That's a good question, which is what are, Alaine, some of the things that you should not do or like rules of the road for negotiation? I would assume, but this is an assumption, that more data is better for all players. Not necessarily the outcome for an individual player. If you're trying to negotiate with someone, the more asymmetric information you have probably the better on your behalf. In the terms of the strongest outcome for a mutual mutually beneficial outcome, more information is better for everybody, right?

[00:34:27] Tyson: What cards do we put on the table?

[00:34:29] Alexa: What are the hands you play when you negotiate? What are the ones that you avoid the plague other than just shutting down, being an asshole?

[00:34:38] Alain: I think that you are touching on one of the most important aspects of negotiation is the question of information disclosure. I prefer even another way of putting it, what we call exchange of information. Let's say that I have a lot of information and I give you all the information I have. In a way, we will probably reach a deal but may not be a great deal for me. If I don't give you any information, you don't give me any information, there we are, we will never know if there is a zone of possible agreement between us. You see that is a need to disclose some information, but also there is a risk of disclosing information.

We need to work towards mutual exchange of information. How do we prepare for that? There are some elements that I’m ready to share with a person in a job interview because I think it's relevant to the discussion, but I won't tell this person everything about my company. Because this person may never work for me. You see, I think that part of what we do when we prepare for negotiation is we’re trying to identify, "What are these information that are public that I could give anyway? What are the second type of information? What is more strategic?" Which is if I feel the other side is responding to my opening, I will continue to give more information.

Then the third type of information we call confidential information. You start seeing that it's not everything or nothing, it's trying to categorize the information we want to share. I think, as you said, the more negotiation is databased, the better, so that you don't feel that I'm putting pressure on you on something that is totally arbitrary. We often insist on the need for justifications, criteria of legitimacy, whatever you put out there have reasons why. Sometimes it's not the number that matters, it is the reasons that lead to the number. That's what I would suggest.

[00:36:46] Tyson: That can be a tactic, though. A bad tactic that people use to really get stuck on something that's not important to take away from stuff that's more valuable. They get stuck on things. It's like, "It's not important. We're arguing over nothing."

[00:37:03] Alain: That's what we call the rabbit tactic. You throw a rabbit, so everyone is [unintelligible 00:37:09]. You don't care about that you care about other things. You see, there is something we have to be careful about here is that sometimes we think that negotiation is all about these tricks and manipulations. Maybe some people act like that, and that's what they've learned. I think that doesn't make you necessarily happy. If every night you come home and you couldn't even tell your kids what you're doing, you are so ashamed or all these tricks you play, that's a little dirty joy. That's not right fooling people, making fun of people.

[00:37:49] Alexa: Even just coercion doesn't give you the warm and fuzzies. "What did you do today, honey?" "I just coerced some people into some stuff they didn't want to do," [chuckles] said no one ever.

[00:38:00] Alain: That's why we thought, again, using a usual target, someone who said about themselves. [unintelligible 00:38:11] a stable genius and the best negotiator of all time, wrote even a book about this. This is a very instinctive, deceitful approach to negotiation. That's not what we're trying to teach our students. Because we want them to go into their lives, both in their personal life and professional lives, happy about what they're doing, and they can be proud of it, rather than going into the worst approach to negotiating, discursive approaches.

[00:38:43] Alexa: I remember, in my not-so-distant past, I was negotiating a sale offer for one of my businesses. Someone was offering to purchase one of my companies. In the process, my first instinct was like, "Oh, no, what are all the tips and tricks and things I'm supposed to do here?" Then I was like, I was working with some advisors, and some investors obviously helped me, and people who've done this in corporate settings and all kinds of things to, first and foremost, make sure we weren't wasting our time. Because the first thing was like, "If you're going to lowball me, I don't want to spend a lot of time on this because I've got three businesses to run."

Then it was like, "Let's map out exactly like you said, let's take the information that we're willing to use in this negotiation, and let's bucket that. Let's bucket that in interesting things you should know upfront that we're going to use to highlight strings of ours, things in the middle that are diligence level questions that you're going to ask me that help you make the argument internally to buy this business to your advisors and your board and your people, but is not the third category, which is competitive and confidential information that if I tell you you can actually use to hurt me." Their bankers came in with this whole list of questions.

They basically want to go open kimono. "We don't have terms. We don't have NDAs." I'm like, "I'm not answering these questions," but I don't want to shut the negotiation down, so I'm like, "I have to figure out what I can say back to you that gives enough of an opening to keep moving through these categories to the point where I am comfortable giving you confidential information because we've reached terms and we're working through diligence." It was quite a dance. This was actually two different offers, and pretty short time line, and still a lot of stress, and thought and involvement in the process. Ultimately, they lowballed us, and we just walked.

I feel good that we got there pretty quickly. One of the things that you could use in a negotiation you tell us is, the element of time. They were offering us very quick, very this, very this, and it was like, "If you're going to be quick, then I need to know your terms by a certain time frame, or I got to go. I got to move on. I can't spend all day worrying about this If you're going to try to lowball me." Then they were [crosstalk] Back and forth.

[00:40:58] Alain: Either time is on your side or on their side. When we sold a house some years ago, I wanted to make sure it would be done in May and June because we wanted to have another house for kids who were going to school. These are major issues. Of course, as a seller, time is not on your side there. You really need to close. While the other side could prolong it. I think that's a an element of power. Another thing you said, Alexa, that I think probably that needs to be also underlined is very often we think that it's only a negotiation between the two of us here at the table. You said, it's also how do I help the other side sell that deal internally to their own constituency? How could I also sell that internally?

That's what we call a two-level game. We sometimes say that a good negotiation is three successes. It's a success between the two of us. It's a success so that you could sell it at home, but it's also a success so that your counterpart could also sell it back internally. Both internal and external aspects on negotiation.

[00:42:11] Alexa: [crosstalk]

[00:42:12] Alain: Yes.

[00:42:13] Alexa: Yes, that's great. It's interesting to think about. What ultimately wound up happening is, in our scenarios, we had thought not only the outcomes they wanted, but also what were the likely the constraints they were working with. One of the constraints we assumed was they've got a certain number that they can go to before they have to ask the board, and that's why they can promise this expediency. When we got one step into the negotiation, there was no budging off that number. I was like, "I think we hit the nail on the head here. It's time to move on because that's not a number anyone is interested in talking about on our side of the table, so let's not waste anybody's time here."

It was a very quick couple exchanges of emails, and then the whole thing went away for a while. It was fascinating. It was great experience for me. The thing that I thought where you're going to go with that, which was actually a question I was going to ask you is, what do you do, and I imagine this gets in order of magnitude more complicated, when you are dealing with multiple people on each side? When you have a situation where there are multiple stakeholders each obviously, with their own individual personal wants and needs for the situation.

I imagine large group conflicts, military conflicts, big conflict resolution stuff that you may be worked on in your work in Africa involves a lot of dynamics on both sides. What are some best practices for dealing with that?

[00:43:37] Alain: So important to really unpack whoever stakeholder we are talking about. Let's imagine you're working with Palestinians and Israelis. You would think, "The real problems are between the two sides." No, that's just one issue. In fact, there are so many sides within the Palestinian side and so many sides on the Israeli side. You really--

[00:44:02] Alexa: They don't even know what they want. [chuckles]

[00:44:04] Alain: No, they all disagree with each other. Sometimes I would say to one side, "I think that as you are so divided, it's great for the other side. Because you're not even able to come up with one approach that works for all of you." This is very common in most conflicts. When you start understanding the complexity of the stakeholders map, you realize that you sometimes, of course, need to align yourself, which is complicated enough, but also align the other side. Help the other side also be aligned. Because you would think, "It's no interest that they're also misaligned." Sometimes no. Because then you can make a decision or it's also delayed,

I think that here it's keyword, build good coalitions. How can you build a good internal coalition? Again, think about the families of coalition. Before I go and negotiate a possible new offer, I need to talk to my wife or to my companion, my friend, and say, "Well, does that align with what your interests are? I'm not sure because you'll be traveling a lot. I'm not trying one that--" On the country, your spouse loves to travel, and so maybe that would work perfectly. You see what I'm saying, this is the complex stakeholder's map. That you permanently need to build that alignment behind you and behind them. That's all about coalition building.

[00:45:36] Tyson: I see this in organizations a lot when we're hiring someone. There's a group of managers, let's say, and one person thinks that they need X, the other person thinks they need Y, and then they're recruiting. They're both recruiting for this person, but they're looking for different people with different skill sets. The process for the other person, the candidates, is just terrible.

Then the other sort of layer to that is typically with the level. "Oh, I want to hire a director. No, actually. I was just thinking a manager level." You've got the one interviewer who's setting this role up as director, the other one is something else. Then you go to offer the person the job and they think they're going to be a director, and it's like, swoop, oops, it's a manager role. Then boom, the whole relationship has just been obliterated. That's when you want to have your ducks in a row as the management team before you go out and start looking for someone, negotiating, looking to get someone in.

[00:46:34] Alain: One advice or so you can give people is that you need to have separate meetings. If you suddenly start realizing that the other side is not aligned, that they have these different interests, you better have a meeting with your future line manager, but then also with the HR manager because what one would say may not be what the other would say. There's a moment when they need to agree with each other on how to move forward.

This is also very often the case if you are consulting in a consulting business, working with a company we're trying to fix an issue, for example. You start realizing that you start with one person, but then you have all of these other people who need to work more effectively together. You won't understand how to do that if you don't talk to each of them separately. That's also what you learn as a mediator when you are dealing with complex conflicts. There is, of course, what you do in a plenary meeting, but a lot of that needs to be done in what we call caucuses, little meetings first, and then you put back the pieces of the puzzle together.

[00:47:48] Alexa: This is like being a product manager. We just have to go ask all the different people like, "Okay, we want to build this thing. You want to build that thing, and they want to get it done this fast. They want it to look like this." You got to bring all that to the table in a way that actually gets that shit done. I like thinking about it like that. That's that's interesting. What's an example-- Go ahead, Tyson.

[00:48:08] Tyson: I was just going to say we started talking about something earlier, which was that warm and fuzzy feeling that you feel after a good negotiation and feeling good and feeling happy and the joy of negotiation. I'd love to take this conversation into that direction, and your thoughts on that.

[00:48:27] Alain: I'd love to tell you more about this because-- Let's be honest, we sometimes have in our mind this picture of super negotiator as you have superwoman or superman. This super negotiator needs to be able to negotiate with anyone about anything quickly, efficiently with great success. To be honest, I have never met anyone who qualifies, maybe in a movie, you would find super negotiator. You would build that. I think that's not what you should sell. Sorry to say that, but as trainers. I reversed the order of what we're trying to achieve here. I think we need to start with different individuals.

What we realize is that, well, there are some people who like to do this in negotiation, but hate to do that. There are people who hate numbers, for example, they really hate numbers, but they are very good at building new relationship. You could build a winning team with someone who is the super smoother, who will really get all of these relationships built, but then maybe at a time when you need to discuss quantitative element, some price, salary, whatever, then you may need someone who is not bothered by the complex quantitative equations or whatever it is.

What I would say that, what is the indication here? Everyone as a negotiator, as a person, needs to start identifying, who do I like to negotiate with? Who do I feel that I really like to work with? What kind of issues or problems do I like to solve? What also can I identify as a process that really fits what I like? You see what I'm saying? I start with a person, you, Tyson, or you, Alexa, because you are two different people. Well, sometimes you like the same thing, but sometimes you don't. I want to start with what you like, but I also want to know, when is it painful? When don't you like it? Because that's also an indication. We need to probe about what's hard in this.

When we do training, too often, we promise that, oh, if you hated numbers, now you will love numbers. I don't think so. You see what I'm saying? I need to know what you feel joyful about as a negotiator, and I want you to do more of that and less of what you don't like. That's why I say the power of teams, of winning negotiation teams matter. You don't want everyone to be the same and being able to do the same thing. That means that there's a lot of work on self-assessment as a negotiator. Self-assessment, are you a people person? Do you like complex problem-solving? Are you crazy about process? Because we do this assessment and we realize in a group, there are different profiles.

[00:51:26] Alexa: We need like a Myers Briggs for your negotiation style.

[00:51:29] Alain: That's exactly what it is. I don't pretend, and I don't want you to change. I just want you to be aware of what you like. It's a little bit what we call the ikigai philosophy, this Japanese philosophy you probably know about. I love it. I love it because you need to be passionate about what you're doing. You need to be good at doing it, and it must be good for other people. Hopefully, you will be paid for it. That's the combination you are looking for. I don't want someone to negotiate things they are not good at, they hate doing it. I'm pretty sure [unintelligible 00:52:04]. That's one word.

[00:52:07] Alexa: Going back to the conversation we were having earlier, it's tying in more data to the situation. It's like, I know, coming into this, I'm not the numbers person, so I'm going to approach this this way, but it also means that when they come back at me with numbers, I don't shut down. I haven't. I've identified that as like maybe a stopping point or a place to reevaluate or a place to hand it off to my teammate or place to break the conversation and go to the bathroom, whatever. It's just more data for your side of the story, which I think is [crosstalk]

[00:52:39] Alain: Yes. Alexa, in the example of the sale of one of the businesses, you know that you have also experts who could really help you structure that and who may not feel emotional [crosstalk]

[00:52:50] Alexa: I didn't make a whole lot of moves on my own during that. It's why it went well. [laughs]

[00:52:56] Tyson: I also think it's important what you-- It's also what you're putting out. If we even take this down, let's say we don't have like a team of negotiators on our side, let's just consider this is a candidate and employer. This is an example that we've brought up a couple of times as well. I also think it's important to understand, what is really valuable to you, and what means a lot to you in the negotiation process? I might not be fighting for--

I don't need a lot of money. I still live at home, let's say, whatever. You don't really care about the salary, sure, but I have some situations where I need to have strong benefits and like good coverage. Maybe that's where you fight a little bit harder for and really understand, what are you putting into this? Are you putting energy where it really matters? Even at the end of the day, is this something that matters to you so much that you are willing to have these conversations? Is this a job that is your dream job and you want it and you just want it so badly that you're going to put that energy out there? Then it goes both ways, too.

[00:54:03] Alain: Tyson, that's exactly what we're talking about. It's, where do you feel alive? Where is your inner energy showing to yourself? I love this term enthusiasm because it comes from entheos. It's having the divine in yourself. That's what it is. Suddenly, I feel alive. When I was working in Burundi between the different groups, when they came into the room, they were really unhappy. They were belligerent. They hated each other. My joy was that, progressively, they started talking to each other, they started drinking beers together.

You see, I started feeling that joy back, and I felt alive as a mediator. That's where I feel the most alive. Does it mean I don't like to be with my students? I love my students. I love to be in a class too, but I know that there, if suddenly something could happen that could serve the common good, I go tomorrow. I go tomorrow to Ukraine. I go to a place where sometimes peace will make the difference., That's exactly what you describe, is where your heart is bringing you. This is actually giving you a very, very important-- It's an indicator.

There is a philosopher, Bergson, who says joy is the sign that you have achieved perfection. You do something, and suddenly, you're so happy about what you do. It could just be that you have changed-- I've changed the diapers of my baby and my baby is happy. Well, that's a great sign of happiness and we negotiate that great moment. That's what it is. I want to do it more. Maybe not, I don't know.


Lie we were talking earlier how hard it is to be a man. I feel a lot of empathy to that. Sometimes I was not doing as much as I could have done.

[00:56:07] Alexa: I think it is fascinating. When we started this conversation and talking about this concept of joy, which I don't think a whole lot of people connect joy and negotiation a whole lot. I just love that you're even infusing that word and that vocabulary into this process. I think it's fascinating to think about not only what brings you joy in the negotiation, like what's going to make me feel good about how I contribute to this interaction, but also to, just for a minute, imagine your "opponent" in this particular situation experiencing extreme joy.

Either because of whatever their perfect outcome is, so that gives you a lot of information about where they're going to go, but also imagining a world where you could both come to a compromise where you are both experiencing the same level of joy for the outcome. There's a lot of--

[00:57:00] Tyson: That's not a compromise. That's something else because, compromise, you'd be losing. [crosstalk]

[00:57:05] Alain: Yes. We are back at this very important point. What we are looking for is not a compromise because then I feel sad that I had to give up something. There's the other side where--

[00:57:18] Alexa: Mutual, new, better solutions. Sorry.

[00:57:21] Alain: That's why rather win-win, maybe we want joy-joy. You see what I'm saying?

[00:57:24] Alexa: Yes, I love that. That's a title of your next book, Alain, Joy-joy. I like that. That's very good. I think that's just, how much less intimidating is the situation when you just think about it? It's our job to walk out if you're here both being joyful. That's the job here, whether we're fighting about war zones in Africa or we are fighting about salary.

The really important piece of that for me is-- One of the most important pieces of advice I used to get-- I don't remember if this was a professor or a coach or-- I don't know. I've had a lot of mentors in my life. One of the things someone said to me once was, you have to respect your opponent because if you can't respect them, you can't beat them because you can't-- It's a version of empathy. I have to be able to appreciate where you're at to respect where you're at.

In order to experience, at least picture. Do the psychological experiment of picturing, visualizing your opponent's joy. You have to, for a hot second, respect their current position. Which is like-- You talk about visualization in sports all the time and you talk about tips and tricks for interviewing, where it's like, get the person to tell you, what would be a metric for success for you if you're there in two years? Basically, all you're doing is asking the person that interviews you to visualize you being at the company in two years, which is a really strong tactic if you're trying to get hired apparently.

Same thing. You got to sit down and be like, "I have to respect their position because I have to empathize with it for a hot second because I have to picture them being joyful." I just think that's so cool. What an awesome way to take pressure off the situation.

[00:59:00] Alain: Alexa, I have one suggestion, too, because very often we use this metaphor for negotiation that it's like war. Of course, then it is like my opponent, my enemy, my adversary.

[00:59:11] Alexa: Yes. I just use all that language very intentionally. [chuckles]

[00:59:14] Alain: We need to reframe that. Again, my mentor, Roger Fisher, said, rather than having this logic of opponents and face to face, one against the other, he was pushing for this idea of side by side. He said, you see, I want us to be partners in this business, not enemies. You see how that's important within a company because you want this positive team. We're not opponents. We're trying to work together. We're trying to break the silos internally.

The same with clients. We're trying to have clients as partners because, if they are partners, they want to buy again from us. The same with those suppliers. You see? It's really a philosophy that suddenly, well, is more responsible than while we are here, it's all war around, and I need to get to win so that the other loses, that's the outcome. You see, that's the shift that we are talking about from instinctive approach to negotiation. Very much inspired by war towards a much more joyful, responsible approach.

[01:00:22] Alexa: I love that. I'm literally picturing rules of negotiation, like sit next to the person you're talking to, not across from them. Very basic. Let's physically make this feel like we are together, not apart. Get rid of the conference room standoff. I love that. There's so many ways to manifest that. It's so helpful.

[01:00:43] Alain: Smile. I smile. If you smile, so the other will smile, and we are the move on something better, something that will be better. I have worked for the last two decades with people, managers or leaders, who want to pitch great proposals to a client. They've spent so much time on the problems, the methodologies, their PowerPoint, the decks with so all so many data, and it's always impressive because I could never produce this deck of such quality. Why do they hire someone like me? Because I see they don't connect with the client. Think about that. You have two-

[01:01:30] Alexa: It's more like consulting.

[01:01:30] Alain: -big consulting firms. You have two big consulting firms. They are the most clever-minded, and I'm the client. Okay, I see the methodologies, but I don't want to work with you because I don't like you. When I'm saying, be more yourself, show that you like this proposal and you like to work with the client because the moment that it shows, you will win much more this pitch than if you just come professionally and we need to look-- Must be boring for everyone in the room. You want to work with someone boring for six months on a project? No, you want to work with someone you enjoy meeting every week or every day. [crosstalk]

[01:02:09] Alexa: Do you want to work for six months with someone who you think is trying to get one over on you? Trying to like, hey, introduce something you don't want or low ball you for a business they spent years building with their blood, sweat, and tears. You don't want that. You don't want to walk away from that situation feeling like that or with that person thinking that about you.

[01:02:27] Tyson: That's a good lesson for people who are in-- Again, I keep bringing this back to like HR, but like in recruiting, like take this as a note. How you're showing up as the employer to the interview means a lot about people choosing you as the employer.

[01:02:41] Alexa: Oh my God. I can't. That's a whole. We got to do a whole episode on that because I could-- It's midnight here, and I could wax about that all night, but-- All right, Alain. I have one last question before we move to our people problem for you. My question is, what is the craziest negotiation situation you have ever seen, either because it was super tense or there was so much joy or more so maybe something that you were just truly shocked at how far it came from the beginning to the end? What's just the craziest story?

[01:03:10] Alain: The crazy challenging negotiation I was in in Congo, the Dr. Congo, Eastern Congo. We were mediating with six groups, and it was peace of war. Progressively, we [crosstalk]

[01:03:29] Tyson: No Pressure.

[01:03:30] Alain: Some pressure. Five of these groups were ready to sign an agreement. The last one didn't want to. I tell you, at that time, say oh-oh, what did we miss in our team that could make one group not sign? If one group doesn't sign, it means war will restart. At that time, you don't have a lot of time to think, but what we decide is that's the document. Tell me what you don't like in this-- Tell me what you want to change in this document. It's risky because if you get the number six to sign this document, maybe the other five won't sign it.

It was a risk to take at that time. I felt I didn't know at all what would be the outcome of this approach. Actually, at the end, it came out nicely, but that's also part of what negotiation is about. Well, you don't know the end of the story until the end. Sometimes there is that stress. That's not very joyful. There is the stress of the risk of failure. I think that it's a burden that many--

[01:04:38] Tyson: There's so much less failure if it's a win-win or a joy-joy. There's so much less failure if that's the outcome. There's no winner and loser. It's just maybe--

[01:04:47] Tyson: There can still be the fear of failure.

[01:04:49] Alain: Yes. I think that when people have been fighting, that could happen in an organization, in a family, between nations, when people have been fighting for long, they know what the situation is about the fighting. They don't have necessarily a good picture of what peace would look like or what a good neighbor's relationship or a good family relationship would look like. I think that also what is really making it hard. Is that you, as a mediator, you could see how it could work.

You see, as an observer, what is happening between Palestinians and Israelis, we could probably figure out, like they do, what the solution is, but we could say here, therefore, the problem is not the solution. The problem is the people, and we need to put people first and we need to work on the acknowledgment of the people. We need to build relationships.

That's another thing that I've learned so many times in my life. When people are in conflict, they think, and we think sometimes, that it is about problems to solve. I can promise you, every time, we see it's because the people don't respect each other. As you said, Alexa, they don't respect each other, or they've lost trust with each other. The process is not about working more on the problems, is rebuilding the relationship, the connection. Even having dinners or lunches together just to remember there is another way forward.

A big lesson of all of that, of my work as a mediator, put people first, and if it gets to work better in terms of relationship, that's the best platform. That's the foundation for problem-solving. As my friend, Larry [unintelligible 01:06:31] says, if you want to go fast, you need to go slowly. Build a relationship first, and then you go to the next step of problem-solving.

[01:06:40] Alexa: I like that. That is a universal truth I think. Fantastic note [crosstalk].

[01:06:43] Tyson: In everything.

[01:06:44] Alexa: Yes. That just puts this-- Thank you for putting this in a nice little bow. Now we will move on to our people problem.


[01:07:02] Tyson: This is from a listener. The question is they're noticing that new hires are being hired at higher salaries than some of the folks that have worked there for a while, it's higher than the tenured employees. How do I approach renegotiating my salary as a current employee?

[01:07:20] Alexa: I'm going to let the master here go first [chuckles].

[01:07:23] Alain: It's true that in the context of the great resignation, it is difficult. You feel that the new ones get better offers because otherwise there would be no one in that job. Okay, well, sorry to say that, but sometimes you probably need to look for another offer somewhere else. Not necessarily to quit your job, but to say, "Listen, I want to stay. I promise I'll stay, but you see, I have this other offer. I really want to stay here, but this is what I'm offered somewhere else." You can't do that all the time. You can't do that a hundred times. That would be my first piece of advice.

The second piece of advice. Maybe that's an issue to be raised collectively, not individually. It's sometimes easier in some places than others, but this is clearly an issue for unions, and to really start saying, well, how do we harmonize the salaries? That could be also the same when sometimes women are paid less of a salary than men in some organizations. That's, for me, it's a collective issue of negotiation, not simply an individual. It's harder to negotiate that individually than collectively sometimes.

[01:08:41] Tyson: Yes. I would just say, only from being on the HR side of things, my only thought is if you are going to dangle another offer in front of your current employer, you ought to know what you're bringing to the table. You have to be a pretty good employee to be dangling offers that, "Hey, I got this offer somewhere else, can you match it, or else?" Because from an HR perspective, we don't always counter-offer. Oftentimes, we're like, "You know what, you want to go? Bye." You know what I mean? Unless you obviously are really good. This is very much a problem right now. This is happening. Like, "I'm sorry. I'm just going to put it out there." If you don't think it's-- this is happening right now.

Yes, this is absolutely happening right now. If you are in HR and you have any influence at all, this is your message to start doing an internal salary review for your entire employee base if you're not doing that. Waving the red flags, this should have happened last year. Anyways, just as an FYI, this should be happening right now.

Also, I think that you should never be afraid to talk about your salary with your employer as well. You can use some of the same speaking points that you would if you were negotiating with a new employer. Coming to the table with the information that you have. If you found someone in my role should be making about X amount of money, these are my skillsets, this is what I'm bringing to the table, this is how my role has evolved and changed over the last year and why I should be making more money, this is why my equity is no longer as valuable as it once was with this market, various reasonings, approach it is if you would a new employer.

Don't ever be afraid to bring up salary with your boss. If it's an uncomfortable situation, try to find someone that actually can have the conversation, if you have like an innate manager.

[01:10:30] Alain: I have a question to you. If I come to you and say, "I would love to embrace more responsibilities," then maybe it would be easier for you to increase my salary. I think that if I say, "Other people have been hired at their higher salary," I'm not quite sure how convincing. Would you prefer that I come prepared and say, well, external standards, but also maybe this is what I would really like to contribute in a possibly new position?

[01:11:02] Alexa: [crosstalk] You're negotiating. You're not adding anything to the pot. You got to add to the pot.

[01:11:06] Tyson: The only thing is, though, is if you are a specific type of employee doing a specific type of work, like you're building widgets, and then they hire someone new, who's also building widgets and making more money, you shouldn't have to say, "I'm going to do more work to get more money." You shouldn't have to do that.

[01:11:24] Alexa: I would argue, if it's that cookie cutter, it should just be consistent across the board no matter what.

[01:11:31] Tyson: It's not that. It's not. Because pay ranges are freaking $50,000 these days. The ranges are out of this world when you're looking at them. It makes no sense.

[01:11:42] Alexa: Everyone knows it on Amazon, you make $15 an hour or $20, and those are-- That's obviously the minimum. We're talking about the lowest possible legal amount that you can make.

[01:11:49] Tyson: Maybe widget making was a bad example. Let's say HR coordinator. You're an HR coordinator. There's not much more maybe that you can do. You shouldn't have to volunteer to do more work to make what someone else is making that's doing the same work as you, if that makes sense.

Alexa, you're going to disagree, but just hold on a second. I think what you need to do is not so much-- People do this all the time. They say, "Oh, Susie was hired and they're making more money than me, and we're doing the same job." I think that you need to represent the value that you are providing. Maybe not necessarily upfront volunteering additional work at that point. "Hey, look, if you want to promote me, go for it. I'd love it." Also, this is the impact that you've had on the work. That's why there's a range that exists. You should be moving up on the range.

[01:12:36] Alain: Tyson and Alexa, I may hire you in my class. Sorry. I was contributing to your show, but you should be probably [crosstalk]

[01:12:44] Alexa: Don't worry, Alain. You're not going to get rid of us. This is too much fun to talk about. I just have to make one counterpoint to that and then I'll give you my thoughts on the people problems specifically. Just remember, first of all, it never hurts. If you actually want to take on more responsibility, this is the perfect time to go get it. This is your opening.

[01:13:06] Tyson: Totally.

[01:13:06] Alexa: Also, it is quote unquote, I hate to use this word, but I don't have a better one right now because it's midnight here. it is unfair to say, "Hey, you just brought this person in. They're doing basically the same job. You're paying them more. I want to re-up." Fair, good luck. Bolder, stronger, smarter move to if you're open to it or have the capacity to add a responsibility, to try to do that because, please, everyone has to remember that markets do not always stay strong. When the labor market dips and you are no longer in power and you are no longer sought after and you are struggling to find work, you want to be the person with the expanded scope that helps that organization. You want to be the person [crosstalk]--

[01:13:50] Tyson: You don't want to be the highest paid and the least impactful. You get chopped fast.

[01:13:54] Alexa: Exactly. If you can move those both in lockstep, that's probably a win-win for everybody or a joy-joy, depending on how that works out.

[01:14:05] Tyson: Look, hold on. I gave this advice on another podcast. Before you ask for a raise, pull out your mirror, look in the mirror and look at your face and ask yourself, are you deserving of that much money? You have to have that conversation, that negotiation with yourself first. Because you don't want to be shaking anything up in this economic climate.

[01:14:25] Alexa: You can. Those are the situations where you wind up making it fool out of yourself, and people are like, "Oh, you just asked me a for $40,000 raise? Maybe this isn't the right place for you"

[01:14:33] Tyson: Go stay with yourself first.

[01:14:35] Alexa: Just to answer your initial question, the initial people problem, to your point about counter-offers, you're right. One of the best pieces of negotiating advice I ever got was, never negotiate a vacuum. The more other options you have in that situation, the better it is for you because you've got more potential outcomes. If you're negotiating something, if you have another offer, great. Another person wants to buy your business, great. I have used that tactic many times, and it's been true actually every time, I was like," Oh, you want to buy my business? So do someone else."

[01:15:00] Tyson: As long as it true other offer.

[01:15:02] Alexa: Yes. I mean, look, you want to gamble with lying, that's on you. That's a moral issue. That’s not for us to discuss, but-

[01:15:07] Tyson: No.

[01:15:07] Alexa: -the thing I would argue there is, that is not a first move. You have to give your-- because, to Tyson's point, people do not always counter. There are I would say 9.9 times out of 10 where I probably would not counter that. You got to be--

[01:15:24] Tyson: Most HR people are not for a counter.

[01:15:25] Alexa: -very, very important to me, and we have to have a very good trusting relationship for me to make it worth countering to you because now there's a lot of trust that could potentially be broken here if I do that because you just went behind my back and got an offer. If you're going to do that, it should probably not be a surprise to the person you are springing it on. It should probably be a second or third step in that conversation.

One of the reasons I say that is it's a significantly different scenario to come up with a counteroffer after you have told someone that you work with, including the HR person, whoever is involved, and your manager, "Hey, I think I'm not at market. l think the market is paying a lot more for this now. I've been here for a while and I contribute and I do my job and you guys love me and I love you, I just want you guys to feel confident and have some market data to support that I am actually worth this in the market. I'm going to go get a counteroffer. I'm going to go do that. I can do that. That's one of the things I might bring to this conversation if you need more proof to make that argument."

Then that person, the HR person go to the CEO--

[01:16:32] Tyson: They know what the market is.

[01:16:33] Alexa: It depends. You got to remember stages, people, managers. People fight about budgets, and it's like, if you took the CEO and offer letter from one of your best employees, it was like, "He went to get this just to prove he could do it." The CEO may find the extra $10,000, will move some stuff around. It just depends. My whole point is just don't spring it on people, probably not the best way to do it if you actually want them to counter. If you don't want them to counter, I wouldn't even fuck with it. Don't waste anybody's time.

The other thing I was going to say is consider the example we use before, which is maybe the thing you want to ask for this situation isn't a salary bump or isn't as anchored in salary as you want it to be. Maybe this is the opportunity to say, "I actually want a title bump," or, "I actually want this benefit that you guys-- I want this covered at a new percentage," or, "I want this thing for my team that would help us all do more work," or, "This career development training that I've wanted to do forever that would boost my personal professional development but isn't a base hike."

Base hikes are scary for finance people because they're permanent increases in cost versus asking for things that are like-- Maybe it's a $25,000, 2-year training. It's basically a fucking master's degree, go ask them to pay for that shit. That’s a different conversation than like, "Oh-oh, the personnel line is going up." Consider maybe what is really important to you in that situation. Is it just salary? Are you just asking for it because you think you can get more and you didn't care about it two weeks ago till you heard about it? That's how I would approach that. It's like, don't surprise anybody with a counteroffer. You've got chips to play.

You're right, there is a asymmetry in the market right now between the existing employees and the new employee, one, that won't last forever, and two, I would be very thoughtful about what chips you're putting on the table there because you could actually wind up-- I don't know. If someone said, "I'll give you a $6,000 market correction or I'll pay for your master's degree," I'd be like, "Pay for my master's degree." That's going to help me no matter what. That's going to help me a lot more for my next job and my next potential role and my other career aspirations than $6,000 right now, just throwing that out there.

[01:18:41] Alain: Alexa, you gave another very important tip for all negotiators. Come up with one or two solutions that are equivalent for you, either an increase of salary or paying for your master's degree, because maybe for the other side, it's much easier to pay for the master's degree than [crosstalk]

[01:18:59] Alexa: Exactly. That might be a whole different budget, the whole different group of people that have to approve that, or maybe there is no approval.

[01:19:03] Alain: Exactly.

[01:19:04] Tyson: Actually, that's just like a little peek behind the curtains. Companies actually prefer to give bonuses than to actually change your salary permanently. If you can get a bonus, even if you're negotiating as a new candidate, bonuses are not permanent, so we're like, "Yes, we'll give you like a 10,000 bonus, but we wouldn't budge on the salary because that's like a permanent commitment." Like what you were saying when the market goes down.

[01:19:29] Alexa: Exactly. Now, all of a sudden, you got that 6,000 in a bonus upfront. In two months, instead of, one, over the course of a year, and two, guaranteed, so no matter what happens when the market adjusts, later you got that extra $6,000, you have to wait all year for it.

[01:19:47] Tyson: You don't want to be the overpaid person when the market goes down.

[01:19:50] Alexa: Again, it's not just overpaid, it's overpaid in combination with not-- overpaid relative to your value to the organization.

[01:19:59] Tyson: Sense.

[01:20:00] Alexa: Yes, very careful there.

[01:20:01] Tyson: Look in the mirror, folks. Look in the mirror.


[01:20:04] Alexa: Yes, exactly. I've had so many people like, "Oh, man, I got like a $40,000 increase on this, and I'm job shopping. Everybody wants me." I'm like, "Okay, careful because you're not going to make that when--"

[01:20:15] Tyson: Good luck. [laughs]

[01:20:16] Alexa: "You're not going to make that if something goes wrong and the market dips." Just remember your salary does not always go straight up. It's a market negotiation. Exactly. All right, Alain. If people like what you have to say, how can they get in touch with you?

[01:20:32] Alain: Oh, I am on LinkedIn. If people type my name, they would probably find me at Brandeis. My email is my name, last name, lempereur@brandeis.edu. Easy for them to-

[01:20:50] Alexa: Love it.

[01:20:50] Alain: -be in contact.

[01:20:51] Tyson: Can you share the name of your book again for folks in case they're interested in that?

[01:20:53] Alain: Yes. This book-- By the way, it also exists in Spanish. I don't have the copy here, but it just came out in Spanish, in another language. It's called The First Move: A Negotiator's Companion.

[01:21:09] Alexa: Love it.

[01:21:09] Alain: For those who want to know more about mediation, last year I came out with another book called Mediation: Negotiation By Other Moves. That's like the little sister of the big sister. That's the two books.

[01:21:23] Alexa: Maybe one of my dream alternate careers is-

[01:21:28] Tyson: Mediator?

[01:21:29] Alexa: -learning how to do this stuff, yes. Like high stakes mediator, I think it'd be super fun. Anyway, all right. Thank you so much for being here. This was truly fascinating. I'm hopeful that we could convince you maybe to do a part 2. In the meantime, thank you for being here, and I hope you bring lots of joy-

[01:21:45] Tyson: Thank you.

[01:21:45] Alexa: -to the world of negotiation.

[01:21:47] Alain: I enjoyed our little talk very much, and I hope it's the first one of--

[01:21:51] Alexa: See you in class. We'll see you in class.

[01:21:53] Tyson: [laughs] Yes.

[01:21:53] Alain: See you. See you guys soon. Bye-bye. Thanks, Alexa. Thanks, Tyson. Bye-bye.

[01:21:57] Tyson: Wait a minute. Before you leave, take some time to leave us a five-star rating. We'd really love your feedback. Also, if you'd like to see our lovely faces each week as we're recording these episodes, check us out on our new YouTube channel. Thanks.

[01:22:09] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio, with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our intro music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies.

[01:22:17] [END OF AUDIO]

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