How Good Of A Negotiator Is President Donald Trump?

He wrote a book, but how good is he really at negotiating?
He wrote a book, but how good is he really at negotiating?
Image Credit: Michael Vadon

So first off let’s all agree on something: I don’t really care if you love or hate President Donald Trump. That’s not what I’m talking about. Instead, considering that he’s in a very powerful position in which he gets to talk to world leaders on a daily basis, I’m interested in how good of a negotiator he is. He did write / co-author a book on negotiating and so you’d think that he’d be pretty good at this stuff. Let’s take a look and see what techniques he has been using as a part of his presidency so far.

Technique #1: I Am The Only One Who Can Fix This

President Trump has a virtual army of aides and government employees who sole purpose is to assist him and to make sure that he has all of the information that he needs in order to make important decisions. However, he clearly does not think that he either needs or wants this level of assistance. He sat by himself as he signed the papers needed to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement rejecting the advice of his foreign policy aides. Its believed that President Trump went with his gut on this decision.

Technique #2: Soften Up The Other Side And Keep Them Off Balance

President Trump wants the people that he is preparing to negotiate with to always be off balancethey can’t know what is coming next. A great example of this kind of behavior in action has been how President Trump has interacted with North Korea. Initially he played the role of being confrontational with them. At one point he called the leader of North Korea a “rocket man”. Later on, President Trump switched gears and started to urge his cabinet to show more restraint. He told people to tone down their comments. His goal was to give North Korea room to negotiate.

Technique #3: Set A Deadline To Create Pressure

President Trump has shown over and over again that he enjoys negotiating up against a deadline. He is always including a deadline when he gives an order. President Trump likes to create deadlines that come with consequences in order to prevent others from trying to run out the clock. His use of deadlines has been questioned by others who have noted that as of yet he has not been able to negotiate a major new trade deal. However, it is important to note that his deadline have been shown to not be bluffs.

Technique #4: Don’t Calm The Waters

President Trump has had a number of different opportunities to calm things down and over and over again he has chosen to not do this. A great example of this is the U.S. decision to move it’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Despite being told that this move was going to add uncertainty to the peace process and create short-term disruptions he decided to do the move anyway. After the move was announced, President Trump went ahead and replaced people who had advised him against the move.

Technique #5: Make It Personal

President Trump believes that he knows what it takes to secure foreign agreements: his personality. One example of this occurred when he convinced the leader of China to break protocol and go for a walk with him. Another example was before the meetings with North Korea when President Trump said that he would know within the first minute if the meetings were going to be a success based on his touch, his feel.

What All Of This Means For You

President Trump is a polarizing figure – people seem to either love him or hate him. No matter how you feel, he is the President of the United States and because of this he is the lead negotiator when it comes to creating foreign policy for the nation. He’s been in office long enough for us to be able to take a step back and study the techniques that he has used so far as he has interacted with other world leaders. As negotiators, we are always open to learning from others.

Although President Trump has a great deal of support, he has so far shown that he prefers to make decisions on his own. He like to keep the other side of the table off balance and will often change how he is interacting with them halfway through a principled negotiation just to keep them guessing. President Trump likes deadlines. He’ll often set deadlines when he is asking people to do things for him and his goal is to create pressure in order to make things happen. So far the jury is out as to if this is a successful strategy. President Trump has shown that he likes it when things are chaotic and he’s willing to take steps to keep them that way. President Trump firmly believes in the personal touch is a key part of any negotiation and he feels that any negotiation that he is involved in cannot be successful without his guidance.

The problem with U.S. presidencies is that they can only really be evaluated from a distance and so we’ll have to wait a while until President Trump is out of office before we can really determine if he was a good negotiator. No matter what, he has certainly has brought his own personal style of negotiating to the office. We are going to have to sit back and watch carefully in order to determine if his negotiation styles and negotiating techniques allow him to be viewed as being a successful president.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that President Trump should try a softer approach in some of his negotiations to get what he wants?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In the world of negotiating, we all run into negotiating situations that can be stressful. The other side gets upset with us for some reason, they rant and rave and make a wide variety of threats, we try to keep things moving forward and ultimately if we are lucky we are able to reach a deal with them. Just imagine how hard it would be to be a member of the New York City Police Department’s Hostage Negotiation Team. Every negotiation that they go into is going to be stressful. How the heck do they deal with negotiations like that?

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