How Well Do you Negotiate? Best Practices Compiled for LinkedIn Networkers.
Posted 16 SEP 2016 / 0 Comments
When it comes to negotiating, there is no right way to skin the cat. However, there are several elements to look out for that may be of help. For example, focusing on interests in place of positions is one way to build trust and understanding. Also, while each party wants what they want, it is important to have multiple options for solutions as sometimes getting a bit creative can bring both parties to meet in the middle. By simply negotiating on principle, it puts relationships and the substance of the conflict in question at risk. There is an age-old example of how an argument can be fruitful or wasted. Two parties come to a meeting and they both want the orange on the table. Each express their positions by stating “I want the orange”. Both are stubborn, and the orange ends up getting thrown in the trash since neither party will budge. Now, let’s take this scenario a step further. Each party comes to the table and they both want the orange on the table. You, the mediator comes in and says, “Person 1 what is it about the orange you ‘want’?” Person 1 responds, “I want the peel so I can bake it and turn it into potpourri”. Person 2 then replies, “I would like the orange so I can eat the inside. It’s my favorite part”. As the mediator you have discovered that there are multiple reasons that each want the orange. The needs can be satisfied since both parties essentially want different things arising out of the same transaction and there’s no need for the orange to be thrown into the garbage.
Other practices in negotiations that may be effective are to arrive earlier and chat with the other party. Ben Franklin once shared that he often borrowed books form those he wished to conduct business with. Why? He did this so he would have an opportunity to further discussions later on. This commonality created a sense of camaraderie and friendship that long outlived any negotiation.
Asking questions such as “would you agree?” to a specific aspect of the deal, or acknowledging their interests with feel good prose such as; “I wholeheartedly understand your position. It makes sense that you would feel that way because…” lets the other party know that you are engaging in a best practice to formulate an alternate agreement that what each wish to stand on ceremony for at the outset.
It is also essential to take ‘breaks’ during negotiations. Knowing when another party has reached a boiling point, or when a breath is needed to regroup their thoughts, is important to the process. Have you heard a professor tell you to complete your assignment, and then put it away and don’t submit it for 24 hours? The reason for this is so that when you re-open the document you can review it with a ‘fresh pair of eyes’. This allows you to see if you made any errors, or maybe have stumbled upon new facts or information that will help solidify your position in your assignment. Only after you have reviewed it later on should you submit it.
Lastly, another best practice is to be absolute in not engaging in any form of criticism. It is important to give credit where credit is due even if you don’t agree with the rational behind the other parties' analyses. Look through different eyes other than your own in order to effectively drive to a fair outcome. Remember that if you want to control the agenda, that information is your power. This will help maximize your leverage and increase the opportunity for a successful negotiation.