Home » Negotiation Expert: Lessons from My Horse by Margaret Neale at TEDxStanford (Transcript)

Negotiation Expert: Lessons from My Horse by Margaret Neale at TEDxStanford (Transcript)

Sharing is Kindness in Action!

Margaret Neale

Margaret Neale – TRANSCRIPT

I teach negotiation. I do research in negotiation. I write books in negotiation. And I work with students and executives to help them get more of what they want from their negotiations. And one of the biggest challenges that we face in negotiations is that we view negotiations as a battle. And that battle is characterized by “I’m going to try to get stuff from you that you don’t want to give me; and I’m going to try to keep you from getting my stuff.”

And if we view negotiations as a battle, we already have a problem. I’m going to suggest that what’s more important is that we look at negotiations as an opportunity for collaborative problem-solving, looking for a solution that makes me better off, better off than my alternatives, better off than my status quo. But because there is no command and control in negotiation, I cannot force you to say “Yes.” All I can do is present proposals where you believe it is in your interest to say “Yes.”

And so, once I take that perspective on negotiation which highlights the importance of the other as well as me, so many more things open up to negotiation: whether it’s a new job – I’m trying to negotiate the terms of my employment contract – whether I’m trying to do an acquisition for my company; whether I’m in a meeting; whether I’m deciding with my spouse who’s going to take the dog out on a cold and rainy night; or whether I’m thinking about what the rules are that my offspring will have to follow and I will have to agree to when they use my car. And this is very good advice, but I am here today with a confession that I don’t always follow my very good advice. And I want to introduce you to my longtime negotiating counterpart. This is Sal.

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Sal is a 15-year-old quarter horse. She is a mare. And Sal came to me as a gift from my husband. My husband was the prior owner of Sal, and he discovered, very quickly, that Sal was more horse than he could handle. So, as a solution to his problem, he thought he would just give her to me. And he did that because he thought – and he told this to me – “You two are so alike.”

And to demonstrate that, we have a picture. So this is Sal and me, but early on in our relationship. And we are about to attempt a relatively complex maneuver called the flying lead change. Look at my jaw: it’s tight, my lips: pressed. My eyes, if you can see them through the sunglasses, there’s a laser-like focus on where I need to be with my horse, and my reins have a death grip. But this is a move that requires both of us, both Sal and me. And if you look at Sal, you see she has a similar look on her face. Her jaw is tight. Look at her ears.

Clearly, I have a goal in mind but so does she, and it might not be the same thing. But my vision was good: what I wanted us to be was good. Let me show you what I had in my head about how we might look. (Music) This is Buck Brannamon and his horse Rebel. Look at these. Look at how they move together. The smoothness with which they move across the pasture. It’s stunning – the fluidity, the dance. It’s as if this man’s brain is attached directly to this horse’s feet. This is what I wanted. That was a good goal. So, I decided, “Yes.”

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