Negotiations: Increasing Your Effectiveness
Always start with a consideration for consideration offer: a presentation of the minimum transfer conditions well within your negotiating limits. Declare yourself up front. ‘You have something I want and I have something you want. I am a negotiator. Let’s negotiate about the transfer conditions.’ For example, ‘I would like for you to…. I understand that it would be something that would change things a little for you. I think that I have an offer that will make it a comfortable thing for you, though. In consideration of your…, I will….’ Simply fill in your consideration and my consideration: the minimum transfer conditions. You have made me a consideration for consideration offer and have done so in a way that lets me know that you are a serious negotiator.
If I begin negotiating, all is well. I might say, ‘I might think about what you want from me; but what you’re offering is not enough for me to give you what you want, you will need to….’ I have made a counter offer and we are ‘horse trading’ as the negotiators say. Suppose I say, ‘No.’ Are the negotiations over? Being a good negotiator you understand my saying ‘No’ as simply my first negotiation offer. You say, ‘That really surprises me. Under what conditions would you…?’ I will then probably make an opening offer – present an initial set of transfer conditions to you. If not, you simply learned that what you want is – from my point of view – simply not negotiable.
The following tips have been found by good negotiators to increase their negotiating effectiveness and increase the extent to which they are respected as effective negotiators.
Stay relaxed and friendly.
Remember the 80–20 rule. Eighty percent of the movement – progress – will be made in the last 20 percent of the time available for negotiating. Knowing this makes it easier to stay relaxed and much easier to be patient.
Keep your focus on the negotiations – the transfer conditions. Skilled negotiators will try to distract you, will talk about things unrelated to the negotiations, and try to diffuse your focus. Through this process, keep your internal focus, your mind’s eye on the negotiations.
Ask for and suggest options. When suggesting options, raise – only as possibilities – different mixes or combinations of consideration. Here, it is important to take care to always stay within your negotiating limits.
Always remember that you are negotiating and never simply trying to get your own way. Your focus is on the transfer conditions and includes your giving me something in exchange for what you hope to get.
The following negotiating strategies appear subtle and not easily seen from the point of view of the negotiation novice. For a skilled negotiator like the one you are becoming, though, they are easy to spot and are an important part of your negotiating repertoire.
Use the first third of the available negotiating time simply to get a feel for my interest. Importantly, you will also determine what I want; but my interest represents how I think I will be better off if we are able to successfully complete our negotiations. ‘Interest’ is not what I want but rather ‘Why’ I want it.
Once you have a feel for my interest, develop a priority listing of that interest as you understand it. Put my most important interest – my most important ‘Why’ at the top of the list and then continue listing my interest in terms of descending priority for me.
Acknowledge and facilitate my interest in the priority order you have developed.
Based on your understanding of my interest, take time to show me how I am going to be better off.
As you talk about the transfer conditions, be very clear. Show me who, what, when, where, why, and – most importantly – how.
Within any exchange – meeting transfer conditions – there are some risks. If there were no risks to me including no possibility of being less well off after I give you what you want, I would probably simply give it to you. I would understand that as doing you a favor and, if nothing else, would expect that you might reciprocate at some point in the future. When negotiating, there are always some risks. Be up front with me and very specific about the risks. Show me all of the risks. This will require that you think about the situation from my point of view, from my perspective. Good negotiators are superbly skilled with this aspect of the process. From my point of view, what are the risks? It is always better if you bring them up and define them clearly for me than if I bring them up in the process.
As you interact with me, limit the amount of detail you bring into the process, be very accurate, and always have more detail available to expand on or back up anything you say. Wait for me to request the additional detail, though. If I do not request it, it is appropriate for you to indicate that more detail is available if I would like to have it. Let it go at this, though. (From a strategic point of view, this puts you in the position of being the expert who is teaching me.)
Show me how we will share the risks and responsibilities. Remember that the person with whom you are negotiating will be more comfortable if the risks and responsibilities are shared as opposed to either you accepting all of the risk or responsibility or the other person accepting all of the risk or responsibility. From this perspective, the key is to maintain each of us as equal participants in the process.
Always let me be the one to make the final decision. Even if I may have made the last offer and you are prepared to accept it say, ‘I think you have made an offer I can accept. I think we are about to a point where we can agree to agree. What do you think?’ Whenever possible, let me make the final decision. Why? Because I will feel better, feel more in control, and feel more comfortable with the position into which you have gotten me.
Always credit me with having made a good decision. Say, ‘I feel like you have made a really good decision. I appreciate the time you have spent talking with me about this.’ What if my decision was to simply stop negotiating and not do what you wanted me to do? The response is the same. ‘I appreciate the time you have taken to talk with me about this. All things considered, I think you have made a good decision from your point of view. It did not turn out quite the way I wanted it to turn out; but I respect the decision you have made.’ Why do this? You never know; you may want to negotiate with me again. You have left our relationship at a point where I feel good about you and about negotiating with you again. Save your negative feelings or reactions for a later time when you are by yourself and can say anything you want to say. At the point our negotiations stop, though, take care not to ‘burn your bridges behind you,’ as they say.
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In negotiations, Stay relaxed and friendly. Remember the 80–20 rule. Eighty percent of the movement – progress – will be made in the last 20 percent of the time available for negotiating. Skilled negotiators will try to distract you, will talk about things unrelated to the negotiations, and try to diffuse your focus. Through this process, keep your internal focus, your mind’s eye on the negotiations. This article covers this and other critical techniques that characterize highly effective negotiators.