Find the Black Swan.

Every negotiation is different and so are the people involved. Every case is new, so you must be flexible, adaptable, and attentive. Deep listening allows us to discover what our counterpart’s hopes and dreams are. When someone displays these passions, they are providing us with a map. We can view others as being similar or familiar. Belonging is a primal instinct, and it builds trust. Uncovering the unknown beliefs, desires, and ideas of our counterparts reveal Black Swans that are invaluable. Often, the other side can appear “crazy.” This is an error in thinking. You must discover the other side’s vulnerabilities and wants, and then gain understanding and influence. As a rule, get facetime with your counterpart. Pay special attention to your counterpart’s verbal and nonverbal communication, especially at unguarded moments. Looking for Black Swans means always listening and being open to anything that you don’t know. These are the information or events that can change everything in a negotiation.


  1. Review everything you hear in a negotiation.
    You will not hear everything the first time, so double-check.
  2. Use backup listeners whose only job is to listen.
    They will hear things you miss.
  3. Listen, listen again, and listen some more.
    You will discover new information that will help you advance the negotiation.


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