I borrowed a quote from Dr. Chester L. Karrass that is expressive for the importance of negotiation in our lives. Negotiation is an important branch within communication skill. There are many situations in life and profession that require high degree of negotiation skills in order to achieve success.
In this post, I will try to describe a model for negotiation. This model is trying to maximize your benefits and results of negotiation. It is important to know that negotiation is a skill, like other skills, needs a lot of practicing and exercising. There are a lot of life situations where you need to negotiate. The following list provides some examples:
- Prioritizing customer requirements and negotiating projects scope,
- Resolving conflicts and reaching an agreement,
- Finalizing price agreement in contracts,
- Prioritize your task assignments with your manager,
- Negotiate your job offering and benefits,
- Sales negotiations,
- Purchases bargains.
When You Need to Negotiate
There are some factors if one of them exists in a situation, this situation is a negotiation situation.
- If there are different parties are involved in the discussion. Several stakeholders and parties (or persons) are representing different point of views and interests for a specific subject,
- There are some sort of dependency between involved parties. Decision of one party affects other parties. Most of the time those decisions are taking opposite directions. Conflict is an example crystallizing this element,
- There are common goals to be settled among various involved parties,
- Availability of negotiation variable that has flexibility of change. Negotiation variables could be price, priority, or specific value,
- The involved parties have the ability to take decisions. Without authority to take a decision, you are negotiating with wrong party.
The remaining of this post draws a practical framework for negotiation stages.
Preparing to Negotiate
During this stage, you need to have clear and practical objectives. What do you want to achieve? You need to prepare optimal values and answers to your objectives. Also you need to have less optimal answers to your objectives. You need to prepare what is the minimum and lowest answers you would accept.
You need to know your opponents in the discussions. Some ethical intelligence (if necessary) is required to know background about who is participating at front of you. Try as much as you can to know your opponent real objectives.
Collect all facts around the subject. The ability to be well-organized and talking with facts increase your probability of success.
Planning A Strategy
Negotiation strategy is a collection of tactics that are utilized in order, combined or individually. It is not likely to get more than what you request. The traditional rule is applied here as part of the strategy. Your demand should be high enough to allow margins for compromise. Another important aspect, if you are not convinced with your objectives, most probably your opponent will not be convinced.
The “Good Guy/ Bad Guy” tactic is important in many situations. One of your team, could be your manager, is playing the rule of tough guy. Your opponent will be more open to negotiate with you other than the other guy.
“Control your emotions” is another technique that will give your more strength. So stay cool. If you lose your temper, your opponent will utilize this for his favor and direct the discussion aside from the main objective.
“Find Common Interests” is an important tactic to build some common ground.
Exchanging Initial Offers
Initial offers are put on the table from each party. Normally those offers are higher than real objectives. Minimum and maximum points are identified during the negotiation. Those points are considered as resistance points beyond them negotiation will be unacceptable.
Try to agree as soon as possible to an offer whenever it can be accepted. This will show to your opponent that you are reasonable and you have a positive attitude.
You need to propose multiple options to your opponent. Never put your opponent in a corner with one option. This would damage the whole negotiation. Moreover, this will make your opponent does not believe you have a hidden agenda you are trying to push.
“win-win” tactic is very important. Allowing your opponent to win in some areas will speed up the negotiation. Give yourself sometime to think about opponent offer. This will give your opponent some comfort that you are fair and flexible.
Pressure tactics has the risk that negotiation will end without good results! Pressure should be avoided unless it is required. Moreover, pressure may destroy your credibility if you put some severe conditions and you violated it later. Pressure is used when one party has an edge over the other. Pressure here is used to balance the situation to create a ground. You practice pressure in order to create a negotiation situation otherwise the other party is not obliged to negotiate with you. so always do not exaggerate with pressure.
Sense of humor is requested when tension is increasing and you want to break that tension. this will provide you with some margin to resume your negotiation.
Compromise the offers. This would create progress in the negotiation process. Being polite, decent and friendly will make negotiations move forward. Anger, rudeness, and arrogance block negotiations.
Use facts gathered during preparation stage. This will make negotiation moves faster and will strengthen your position.
Use a surprise (wisely) during negotiation by postponing one of the alternatives that could compromise the negotiation, and propose it suddenly during the negotiation. This surprise can be used once per negotiation. It has a good effect whenever negotiation is blocked or taking a direction opposite to your objectives.
Conclude with an Agreement
Once agreement is reached, it needs to be documented.
I hope above tips would help. In future, we can discuss real-life situations encountering normal persons and professionals where negotiation skill becomes a must.