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You Never See it Coming

I woke up in a reflective mood this morning as I’m preparing for BOTH Easter and Passover this year and thinking about the challenges faced by our ancestors.  For some reason I was reminded of a woman I met on a long plane ride several years after 9/11,  Anna was a portly woman, probably in her early sixties, possibly older.  We were coming back from Los Angeles, so it was going to be a long flight and I welcomed the diversion of some light conversation.  Also, being a writer, I’m always looking for opportunities to hear a good story.

After the usual introductions, I asked about her work. She replied that it had changed significantly over the past several years. Previously, she was a project manager with an office in the World Trade Center.  Now she was in a different building closer to where she lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  I couldn’t help but ask where she had been when the planes hit.

She said she was at her computer when the announcement came to drop everything and move to the stairwell.  No one told her why she had to leave her office. Confused, she joined the rush of people making their way down the forty flights of stairs.  Rumors spread.  She began to realize something terrible had happened, but exactly what wasn’t clear. Her mind started to race, even if her feet could not.  She decided that she had to get to safety.

Suddenly, the exodus came to a halt.  Although the group had arrived at the lobby level, the guards in charge were instructing people to stay in the stairwell.  This did not make sense.  She squeezed her way through the crush of bodies and out the stairwell door.  People yelled for her to get back into the shaft.  Instead, she sprinted across the lobby while the guards shouted after her.

Most of the exits to the outside were locked, but one of the doors remained open.  Without hesitation, this overweight, out-of-shape, sedentary woman began running — all the way from the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan to her apartment on the Upper West Side of the city.  She never looked back, never stopped running until she was home on 79th Street and Broadway – more than 6 ½ miles from where she’d started.  When I asked what was going through her mind, she said she couldn’t believe she had left her favorite red heels under her desk.  Not her laptop, not her phone, not any files, but her sexy, red-spiked heels.

I was impressed.  This matronly woman — without any information and acting on only gut instinct — saved her own life.  The others in her group who obediently stayed put were crushed when the Towers came down.

The Takeaway?   Just when everything appears to be going well, a plane will suddenly appear in the sky and slam head-on into either your life or career or something else you value. You won’t see it coming but be assured; it happens to us all.  Marriages end. Careers derail.  Fortunes are lost. The people you counted on suddenly disappear.

When the calamity arrives, what will be your response? Will you sit there stunned, unable to move, and scream at the moon that it’s all unfair?  Or will you refuse to be crushed and instead take action to regain your life, as Anna did?

A few years ago, when I was staying at the Westin in Philadelphia, the fire alarms went off in every room and all the hallways with instructions to head to the stairwells.  My heart raced as I remembered Anna.  Hotel guests were standing in the stairwells waiting.  I couldn’t.  I pushed my way through the throngs and sprinted down the stairs and out onto the street and safety.

I found out later it was a bomb scare.  The bomb squad found it and dismantled it.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  But I assessed the risk as well as I could and acted on my own behalf, the way Anna did.

When life challenges confront me I remember Anna and take action rather than allowing circumstances to control my fate.  And I always make sure to have my red stilettos somewhere safe. 😉

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Negotiator – How To Be Smarter About Risk Assessment

“To abate risks better, deal with those that pose the greatest threat to your goals first.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

What do you consider when thinking of risk assessment? Do you think about the impact that your past will have on it? Do you consider the same about the person you’ll be negotiating against? There is a multitude of things to consider. Doing so before the negotiation will make you a smarter negotiator. Before your next negotiation, mull over the following insights when pondering how to be smarter about risk assessment.

Gains versus Losses:

Sometimes, people become caught up in the moment. They forget to weigh their potential gains against their potential losses. Losing track of such mindfulness can leave you wondering why you engaged in such folly, once you’ve returned to a clear state of mind.

When assessing risk, know what you’re assessing as it relates to your larger goal. Don’t place yourself in a position where you make a tradeoff or offer, get it, and then discover that there’s an unintended cost for the acquisition. If a request is too costly, it may behoove you not to enter the bidding. A risk matrix can assist in that avoidance.

Risk Matrix:

You can use a risk matrix chart to assess the probability of an outcome in a negotiation. That will help you uncover any hidden risks that you may not have considered. Based on what you know of the other negotiator, you can assess the probability of how he’ll act/react to certain offers and counteroffers. Thus, you might have your offers and potential counteroffers plotted on one scale and markers denoting the probability that he’ll respond in a certain way on the other (e.g. strong possibility, likely, maybe, low probability, not likely). Then, weight each category (e.g. 85-100%, 65-85%, 45-65%, 25-45%, 0-25%, respectively). Of course, your risk matrix will only be valid to the degree your assessment of the other negotiator is accurate. If it’s not you’ll have garbage in, garbage out.


  • Lead/Led – Ask the other negotiator for his thoughts and inputs on matters that you’re unsure about his thoughts. By obtaining his thoughts you’ll gain insight into how he’s thinking. The bonus of that will be of him having the appearance that he’s leading the negotiation. That will also assist your efforts in decreasing the risk that the negotiation might go into unseen and unsuspected areas.


  • Offers – Don’t make offers that would demean or insight the other negotiator. You don’t have to tread so gently that he begins to press you on issues. instead, find the balance between the point of leading and following and know when to commit to either.


  • Anger – When thinking of the strategies you’ll employ in the negotiation be leery of using anger. There are potential hidden risks involved when you anger someone. They can become unpredictable, which means not only would you demean the validity of your risk matrix, you might do irrevocable harm to the negotiation.


Suffice it to say, the fewer variables you can account for when negotiating the stronger your negotiation position will be. That will lead you to be smarter about risk assessment … and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com 

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.TheMasterNegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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Can You Negotiate in a Life and Death Challenge?

“Perception determines how you’ll engage in an endeavor. Thus, you should always assess your perception before doing so.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

There you are. Everything is on the line. You’re negotiating in a life and death challenge. What might you do and how might you negotiate differently giving the life and death challenge that confronts you? Would the answer depend on whose life you were negotiating for?

Okay, let’s turn the temperature down a little. Suppose it was your job or a contract that you were negotiating for instead of someone’s life. Would that alter the negotiation tactics and strategies you’d employ?

There are central components that flow through every negotiation. The only thing that changes is their order based on the severity of the negotiation.

The following are components that will occur in every negotiation you’ll encounter. Master them and you’ll have a greater chance of mastering successful negotiation outcomes.

Mindset: Your mindset is your greatest ally or foe.

  • Always be aware of the mindset you possess when negotiating. Your mindset will determine the degree that you think logically or illogically.
  • Your mindset will change based on the challenges you perceive and how you address them. That will impact the interactions you have with the other negotiator.
  • Be aware of what causes you to see yourself differently. Therein will lie embedded clues about why your mind shifts. 

Bonding: I understand you. We’re alike.

  • People like people that are like themselves. And, they want to be heard and appreciated.
  • Bonding helps people to perceive you as being like them.
  • The time to ask for concessions in a negotiation is when you’ve bonded sufficiently. It’s an important factor that increases the odds of getting what you want.

Positioning/Controlling the negotiation: Look how far we’ve come. I see a positive outcome on the horizon.

  • Prior to starting the negotiation establish what will be discussed. That will determine the flow of the negotiation.
  • Set the agenda to discuss the items of greatest importance first. The other negotiator will have his priorities. So, be prepared to trade points to ensure you control the negotiation’s flow.
  • Determine which strategies and tactics are most appropriate for the type of negotiation you’ll engage in.

Reframing: That’s not what I meant.

  • Know when to reframe an offer. Sometimes people perceive offers differently from what was intended. If you sense that, reframe the offer. That will allow it to be viewed from a different perspective, which could make it more appealing.
  • To reframe an offer to make it more appealing, position it as a benefit to the other negotiator.

Pace: Change of pace alters a negotiation’s flow.

  • Bypass points of contention when you want to avoid them (e.g. Let’s come back to that later).
  • Negotiate slower or faster to increase or relieve anxiety or pressure when it’s to your advantage to do so.
  • Changing your pace of speech when making offers will impact their perception. If more time is required to have the importance of an offer appreciated, consider speaking slower. That will subliminally convey its importance.

Hope: The outcome doesn’t have to be bleak.

  • Brandish hope as an ally. Doing so will keep people engaged in the negotiation.
  • Take hope away when the other negotiator strays in the wrong direction. Your intent is to let him know that he’s engaged in a losing proposition.

Every negotiation you’ll be in will not be life and death. But the components above will be in every negotiation you’re in. Using them adeptly will enhance your probability of having a successful negotiation outcome … and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.TheMasterNegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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