Tag Archives: managing negotiation

Mastering Negotiation is Critical in This Turbulent Business Climate: Most Managers Simply Don’t Know How to Negotiate…

Mastering the art (or some say science) of negotiation is absolutely critical in daily business activities… yet many leaders and managers lack this crucial skill… According to Mary Ellen Tribby; studies show that business people (and others) who do not know how to negotiate are 60% less successful than those who do. A recent survey suggests that most business people (in fact, most people in general) don’t particularly– understand, or value, or exercise good negotiation skills…

According  to Abby Hardoon; there is a negotiation skills gap, in fact, most people simply don’t know how to negotiate… Of course, there is no magic formula for the best way to negotiate and no shortage of expert opinions– as a quick scan of bookstore’s shelves will reveal– some of which is valuable but much is simply not practical... But, a consensus seems to suggest that the most critical steps in negotiations are; actively listen, build sense of trust, be negotiation ready, and all other steps follow… 

In the article Enhancing Negotiator Power by Dr. Robin L. Pinkley writes: A key determinant of all negotiations is negotiator power. Power is defined as– value that each party brings to the table over the value of each party’s alternative’ to the deal (often called BATNA or Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement). Given the profound impact that power has on every negotiation, you would be wise to proactively enhance your power ‘before’ you negotiate, e.g.:

  • Increase– other party’s perception of ‘your value(research what they care about and how they can get it from you)…
  • Decrease– other party’s perception of ‘their value’ (communicate what they’ve overvalued or don’t have that you need and why what you’re justified in asking for it)…
  • Increase– other party’s perception of ‘your BATNA’ (prepare viable alternatives and share them strategically)…
  • Decrease– other party’s perception of ‘their BATNA’ (bring value that others don’t have and differentiate yourself)…

In the article Effective Negotiation by Bisk writes: Negotiation is a process (not an event)– it’s give-and-take’ between parties (each with its aim, need, viewpoint…) seeking to discover common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict… Negotiating is a skill that few people can afford to forego– it’s critical in all phases of business and human interaction… According to Carolyn Williams; a few tips to improve proficiency:

  • Learn to Flinch: The flinch is one of the oldest negotiation tactics but one of the least used… A flinch is a visible reaction to an offer or price during face-to-face negotiations. The objective of this tactic is to make the other person(s) feel uncomfortable about the offer they presented… Most often the other person will respond in one of two ways; a) they become very uncomfortable and begin to try to rationalize their price… b) they will offer an immediate concession…
  • Have Confidence: Regardless of how badly you may need a certain outcome from the negotiations, never let the other party think that you are desperate; doing so puts you in a weaker position and gives them greater leverage over the situation…
  • Come Prepared: Before you go into any negotiation, make sure you have considered all variables which might arise… Should unexpected issues come up, end the negotiations and educate yourself on the new matter before rejoining the process…
  • Build Buffer: Never begin with final offer. Give yourself sufficient ‘cushion’ between what you are asking for and what you actually want. This will enable you to make compromises without giving up anything important… also demonstrates to the other party that you are flexible…
  • Know Limits: Decide beforehand what your absolute minimum outcome is, and do not be afraid to leave the negotiations if you cannot get it…
  • Stay Cool: If negotiations become argumentative, walk away and ‘take-five’ to reassess your situation. If the other party is not willing to come to an acceptable compromise, consider whether it’s more beneficial to continue, or simply end the negotiations…

In the article Great Negotiators Think With Heads, Not Hearts by Victoria Pynchon writes: Negotiation need ‘hard heads’, rather than ‘soft hearts’… Zero-sum or win-lose negotiating is all about getting your ‘fair share’ of a fixed pie… Ideally negotiations are a mutual benefit/interest-based process that require the parties to: (1) learn about and attempt to satisfy each negotiating partners’ needs and desires… (2) collaborate in an effort to find ways to satisfy each others  needs and desires in novel and creative ways… But that’s simply not how the whole competition negotiating paradigm operates…

We live on razor’s edge between sympathy and fairness– between adversarial-ism and collaboration, between head and heart… As a conflict resolution guru said; effective negotiators need cynical minds and hopeful hearts… Only when you are able to achieve the balance between ‘head’ and ‘heart’ are you able to serve yourself and the larger common good at the same time…

Negotiation often requires creativity to ask the right clarifying questions and figure out what is truly of value to other parties… It may not be what you think until you ask… According to Chris Voss: the idea is to really listen to what the other-side is saying and feed it back to them… It’s kind of a discovery process for both-sides– you are trying to discover what’s important to them, and how that compares to the things that are important to you…

However, negotiation  has a certain gamification associated with the process, e.g.;  while you are making your argument the other-side is not listening to you, but thinking about their own argument– they’ve got a voice in their head that’s talking to them… And while the other-side is making their argument you are thinking about your argument– it’s the voice in your head that’s talking to you… So it’s very much like dealing with each others schizophrenia… In reality, most negotiating is dysfunctional; where each-side is talking ‘pass’ each-other rather than listening and talking ‘to’ each-other…