Earlier this fall, President Jeff Weiss was back in the classroom to discuss successful negotiation strategies with this year’s class of colonels at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania.
His presentation, “High Stakes Negotiations: Traps & Strategies,” focused on what dynamics negotiators often face, how they too often react and get themselves into trouble, and a series of alternative proven strategies that lead to success.
The War College’s website says, “The purpose of U.S. Army War College at this time in our nation's history is to produce graduates from all our courses who are skilled critical thinkers and complex problem solvers” as the military and nation face global challenges.
President Weiss’s professional background includes serving over a decade as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy. He was also a co-founder and co-director of the West Point Negotiation Project, and has received West Point’s Apgar Award for Excellence in Teaching, as well as the Department of the Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Medal.
During his presentation in October, President Weiss shared examples from international, military and corporate contexts. He explored with the many hundreds of military leaders from across the globe how to effectively apply these strategies in preparing for negotiations, shaping and conducting them, and changing the game when faced with tough tactics.
“The natural reaction in high-risk negotiations — to counter, anchor in, make threats, or react in kind — most often leads to poor negotiations and poor outcomes,” President Weiss says.
“Truly skilled negotiators step back; systematically assess the context, issues and dynamics; and actively work to engage their counterparts in side-by-side joint problem-solving. This takes systematic preparation and disciplined action, and when done well, often leads to breakthrough solutions.”
President Weiss also dug into how the colonels can use these strategies, and a range of supporting tools, to more effectively prepare and advise leaders within their own governments and militaries for complex negotiations. And, he and they engaged in a robust conversation about how best to apply these ideas to current negotiations around the world.
The presentation was based on a Harvard Business Review article President Weiss co-authored a number of years ago, “Extreme Negotiations,” and was similar to one he gave at the White House to the National Security Council staff in summer 2017.