Negotiation and Human Behaviour

The passages quoted below can be found in the book Fundamentals of Negotiation by Gerard Nierenberg. I’m sharing these with you because of the insight it has provided me regarding the techniques in dealing with people. I especially enjoyed the second passage, where Nierenberg asks the reader the question, “are you more interested in their behaviour, or the motivations behind the behaviour?”

As a person greatly interested in psychology I’ve always chosen the latter, that of “the motivations behind the behaviour.” But Nierenberg argues that these motivations are not as important as the behaviour. There are many motivations for people to do anything, and many of these are rational, but rationality is people-specific, he says. It is far better to work with the numbers of probability, trying to predict what his next behaviour will be, and work from there.

[i] People’s behaviour are guided by their own rationalisations. Whatever they do, in some way or another they are doing it as they believe it will help in some way, even though it might seem to the contrary. A man who flies into a rage might be trying to prove a point, in his own rational way, that he is to be taken seriously this time.

[ii] When talking/negotiating with people, are you more interested in their behaviour, or the motivations behind the behaviour? Man’s motivations are many, and often may well be rational, but this rationality is people-specific. Behaviours on the other hand, are like probability. You cannot predict what an individual man may do, but you can predict with mathematical certainty what a group of individuals will do.

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