Bill Richardson on How to Sweet Talk a Shark

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson and Emmy Award-winning Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer discuss the world of high-stakes negotiation. How to Sweet Talk a Shark talks about Richardson’s successes and failures in some of the world’s least friendly places, including face-to-face negotiations with Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, and two generations of North Korean leadership.


Kevin Bleyer and Bill Richardson

Comments [4]

Taher from Croton on Hudson

This is strange the co writer is telling Mr. Richardson's
stories as if he was at the event. Bizzare.

Oct. 15 2013 01:59 PM
Amy from Manhattan

On Gov. Richardson's endorsement of then-Sen. Obama, is it harder to keep sight of your negotiating techniques when it's a personal relationship? (BTW, I wanted to vote for Gov. Richardson, but he was off the ballot by the time of NY's primary.)

Oct. 15 2013 01:56 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Is there any chance Bill Richardson could negotiate a resolution of the government shutdown?

Oct. 15 2013 01:25 PM
Peter Talbot from Harrison NJ

The secret to Gov. Richardson's many successes is that he "goes native" with each correspondent, linguistically and by use of stories and parables whenever possible (Abe Lincoln's favorite approach). By giving the appearance of "going native" with a shark, the shark is less likely to perceive you as prey. This is all straight out of the intelligence service interrogation playbooks for nigh on 100 years. The key to success is that you must do this bilaterally. No amount of "going native" helps when the venue and negotiators represent more than two positions. Ergo: it works with sharks, CEOs and dictators. Not so much with mammals, birds and other more socialized forms of animal life. And the approach will seem inauthentic and manipulative amongst friends. Indeed, this is the problem that US foreign diplomats have been having since Woodrow Wilson did likewise after Armistice. America is fine arguing from strength (when it is actually strong), but absolutely lousy when speaking to peers. I have never been more horrified than in the presence of American ambassadors to third world countries trying to sound friendly while pushing our latest USAID action plan. Gov. Richardson was blessed to be in charge, on point and private. Unfortunately, most US negotiations don't have those characteristics, and are held to impress the press in an unrelated place with an unrelated agenda rather than to reach a consensus or win a concession.

Oct. 15 2013 11:29 AM

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