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Negotiating Soviet Style

In the late 1970’s I took a negotiating course taught by Herb Cohen, author of “You Can Negotiate Anything.” Cohen was an impressive speaker, not least because he had a resemblance to the actor Walter Matthieu, in both appearance and delivery.

Cohen had advised the US Government on negotiations with the Soviet Union and he described what has been called the “Soviet Style” of negotiating. A few key elements of that style include:

- Treating the negotiation process as a game which will produce a winner and a loser – not two mutually satisfied or dissatisfied parties

- Wanting to win, win completely, and satisfy one’s needs at all costs.

- Getting what one wants, not “make friends”

- Playing other involved parties, real or imagined, against each other

Knowing this, the mindset, statements and behaviors we have seen coming from the Kremlin are a déjà vu for those with memories from the Cold War.

Sadly, this awareness does not portend an optimistic resolution for the war in Ukraine. We can hope, however, that this helps prepare our political and military leaders for what might come next.

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