We all negotiate every single day–at home, at work and everywhere in between. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Despite this constant practice, 68% of us are anxious about negotiating, and 86% of us want to become better negotiators. The key to a win-win or no deal approach is finding ways to help both sides feel successful, rather than just focusing on getting what we want. The approach I’ll share with you, in this article, will help you to solidify long-term relationships and partnerships–both externally and within our own organization–and builds positive momentum for every future negotiation.
Approach negotiations from an “abundance” frame of mind, instead of a “scarcity” mentality, visualizing the many benefits available to both parties. To that end, there are three kernels of knowledge to chew on: The Negotiation Process, the Negotiation Theatre, and the Impact of Personality & Style.
THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS
The permeating attitude in the process is always win-win or no deal, whether you’re negotiating price, terms or any other aspect of the desired outcome. The Negotiation Process includes three components: STYLE, OPTIONS AND PRINCIPLES.
Starting with style, your best bet is to embrace a flexible negotiating approach, moving along a continuum from quick to deliberate, mixing it up along the way, to vary the tempo and keep from being predictable. Carefully plan your options, developing a best case, acceptable case or worst case scenario. Adhere to basic–simple but not easy–principles. Among the most important ones to bake into your approach, include a realization that there are really no rules, everything is in play, and a NO is acceptable and sometimes a preferred response. Learn to work with, rather than against, the other party, for a mutual agreement.
WELCOME TO NEGOTIATION THEATRE
My belief is that life itself, is one long, continuous “act” and we are all bit players in the “production”. Negotiating is “theatre”, and the negotiation model has four distinct acts. The Investigative Phase begins before the curtain rises–though we call it Act 1. This is where you must find out all the information possible, and do thorough research on all parties involved. The most successful negotiators know more about the opposing side’s outcomes than they often know about their own.
In Act 2, called the Presentation Phase, we begin to present our case, based on our research, and in the course of our presentation, we totally justify our pricing, and any of our preferred desired outcomes. Along the way, we have anticipated many potential objections along the way, and diffused as many as possible even before they’re voiced.
Act 3 begins after both sides have delivered their lines, and the Bargaining Phase officially starts. One of the conclusions the “audience” agrees on: both sides have a genuine desire to trade. Expect a healthy dialog in this act, as both parties begin to share and sort out their wants, needs, roles and goals, usually hinting at where their top priorities lie.
Finally, everyone in the “theatre” is anxious about how this play will end. Introducing Act 4–the Agreement Phase, where there’s an acknowledgment from both sides, that all points have been addressed. In many ways, this act is the most “entertaining”, since one of the “actors” may drop out here, and not even stick around for the final curtain. You must be prepared to walk out of the venue, if there’s no agreement to be found. Be aware that play may end without a standing ovation.
IMPACT OF PERSONALITY & STYLE
When you are savvy on how people are likely to respond–or react–to your negotiation, you are in THE strongest bargaining position of all. Keep in mind that each “actor” involved, has a primary personality & style. Your job is to quickly gauge the characteristics and traits of each person, and make your best guess.
A focus on win-win or no deal, contributes greatly to creating a proper negotiation mindset. From that perch, negotiation sessions are rarely winner-take-all affairs. Instead, they enable us to negotiate from a center of power, no matter what. Never fear compromise as a path to mutually beneficial agreements.