Great negotiators will tell you to look for common ground on the way to making a deal.

And if common ground isn't likely, at least find a way to repeat the other side's words back to them. Let them see that you're listening, and trying to understand their goals and concerns.

An FBI hostage negotiator calls it using your "late-night FM DJ voice."

Hold that thought for a minute. Because tonight, President Trump will deliver his delayed State of the Union address (9 pm ET). And his aides say he's going to do something that will likely surprise many people.

'A bipartisan and optimistic vision'

We've just endured a 35-day shutdown, and there's a threat of another one on Feb. 15. Trump recently said negotiations with Democrats to avert another potential shutdown were "a waste of time." 

Against that, Trump's aides say he'll try some conciliatory, unifying tactics, that might at least for an evening, defuse the incredible divisions in our country.

Now, how this will work remains to be seen. It would play against type, for sure, if the president were to "outline a bipartisan and optimistic vision of the country," as a senior administration official told The New York Times.

This is a president who as recently as Sunday called Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi "very bad for the country," and said she's a woman who "basically she wants open borders [and] doesn't mind human trafficking."

The Art of the Deal

And, there's always the chance that something will change, and he'll take an entirely different tack. Perhaps he'll double down on appealing to his base, and leave us all scratching our heads on what the aides were even thinking.

Either way, we're about to see a State of the Union address to remember. And we'll find out whether the president who rose to prominence as the man behind The Art of the Deal is actually interested in working out an agreement, or going it alone.

Here's what else I'm reading today:

Published on: Feb 5, 2019
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