Great Moments in Negotiation

The year is 1977, and the Department of Justice and AT&T are locked in a high-stakes antitrust lawsuit:

[DOJ lawyer Kenneth] Anderson heard [AT&T lawyer Hal] Levy out, and then he said, “I’ll tell you one thing. This is going to be a severed limbs case. We’re going to have severed limbs, AT&T limbs, on the table dripping blood. That’s the way this case is going to be settled. We’re not going to settle this thing with injunctive relief.”

“You can’t expect me to go back to my board of directors and tell them something like that,” Levy answered.

“That’s exactly what I want you to do,” said Anderson. “I want you to go back there and tell them that the next time they send somebody down here to talk about settling, I want to see severed limbs on the table. In fact, if you want to come in the door, you’ve got to throw a couple of severed limbs in ahead of you, or you don’t even get in the door.”

—Steve Coll, The Deal of the Century: The Breakup of AT&T (Touchstone 1988), page 120

That’s the kind of guy Ken Anderson was. He liked to come on like Gangbusters. It was a great negotiating style. If Hal Levy didn’t like it, he could always go to the section chief or AAG instead of just whining about it.