Best Negotiating Tip 1003

Sailors appreciate the value of local knowledge when entering foreign waters. Many submerged obstacles are not marked on charts and one is well advised to avoid them.

Negotiators also know that it makes sense to learn everything they can about who they are about to meet with and their role at the negotiating table. While it is wise to hear advice from many sources it is important to qualify the input and filter it. It is human nature to like to offer advice. It feels nice to be asked so many will expand and expound upon the knowledge they actually have. They may also embellish bad experiences with a tone of authority. They are feeding their own ego and may be doing you an injustice.

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Third party advice should typically be considered hearsay until you have either confirmed its accuracy or received like information from several sources. Even the advice of good friends and business affiliates should be suspect until validated for the same reason; people like to feel important or valuable.

Flawed information could mislead you for several reasons:

  • The information passed along has been filtered by the other person and may be biased based on their experience. Everyone sees things differently based on their experiences and expectations so adjust the input with that in mind.
  • Things may have changed since the referring party was involved. The passage of time does have a habit of changing things on the ground. Make sure the advice is based on current experience or knowledge.
  • The information may be part of the story. Do not expect them to tell you everything they know about an incident. No one likes to share their own flaws or mistakes!

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Getting the 'free advice' is step one. The next step, more important, is to qualify it. The best way to validate what the other person is saying is to:

  • Observe their body language while they are sharing their experiences with you. You can usually tell if they are bending reality if you notice a slight shaking of the head, avoidance of eye contact, looking off in the distance, or hesitation while speaking. These 'tells' can indicate someone who is either adding or omitting information as that requires their proactively changing their memory before speaking.
  • Ask follow-up questions soliciting greater detail to draw out conflicts or limitation of actual knowledge.
  • Did you just hear something juicy or important? Ask for the supporting data to validate the information. Something that seems incongruous needs special attention as it may materially change how you approach the situation or deal with the person.
  • If you are in a group setting watch the other people involved to see if they seem surprised or uncomfortable. You may want to follow up with these individuals separately to see what they were feeling at the time or if they have a differing opinion.

While you can never expect to have all the information before a meeting it is worth gathering what you can within reason. Obviously, the more important the issue the more time you will take to prepare. An example of how we do this casually is when we are visiting the doctor or another professional we rely on for a service. When checking in with his or her assistant, receptionist or associate ask 'What type of mood is she in today?' or 'How has his day been?' It is amazing how much information can be provided by such an innocent inquiry!

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Negotiating Bottom Line Tactics

Knowing your objective, goal or bottom line is essential to maintaining your negotiating perspective. It is your compass during a negotiation. Do not confuse goals with bottom lines.

persuasion-sm.jpgYour goals are what you want to achieve while your bottom line is what you need to achieve. Anything that falls short of your bottom line, your basic needs in the situation, is too expensive and something you should be willing to reject. The bottom line is the point at which you should walk away if possible or to start bluffing seriously. In most cases, you should walk away as resolution is too expensive if you have to give away too much to reach it. When you reach your bottom line in a negotiation you essentially have three options:

1. To walk away. You reach the point where you have to walk away when the price of the resolution exceeds what you are willing to concede. It is not what you want to pay or receive; it is what you need to receive or can afford to pay. When you walk away the other party may reach out to bring you back to the table. That is when you know they want the deal more than you do and that you might be able to renegotiate the terms at or slightly above your minimum position.

2. To concede defeat. You may not be willing to sever ties with Raspe and may be forced to concede defeat to preserve the relationship. This is a viable if undesirable option unless someone is getting hurt in the process. If Raspe is winning through power tactics, especially if they involve physical attacks, you should seriously consider if the relationship is worth keeping.

3. To bluff fully prepared to walk away or concede defeat. iStock_000001545052XSmall-senior_partner.jpgThis approach is often effective because you essentially have nothing to lose. As a result you can become more aggressive in your arguments, more passionate in your style and more compelling in your delivery. The cautionary note is that you do not want to over use this tactic as being caught in a series of bluffs will result in Raspe becoming suspect of all of your arguments. Bluffing is very akin to lying and Raspe will develop a reluctance to negotiate with a liar.

Whatever it is that you are negotiating for it should have a specific value to you. Before you start to discuss relinquishing it in exchange for something else, you want to establish what the value to you is firmly in your mind so you don't give it away for less in the heat of the negotiation. Your bottom line is not your goal or objective. It is the worst-case scenario that you would or should accept.

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What is Conflict Resolution

man_woman_fighting_sm.jpgConflict between people, any two people or larger groups of people is a fact of life. We are different people. We have differing wants and needs. This means our goals and objectives are in conflict most of the time; even when we are on the same team. Conflict is normal and healthy as long as it can be resolved preserving the relationship of the people involved.

Conflict exists within families, among peers, friends and neighbors. It exists at work, church, school and simply along the street among strangers. Conflict resolution is the process by which we handle the conflict in our lives.

There are many ways we try to resolve conflict. By surrendering, running away, fighting, litigation of filing a complaint with the human resource department. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), AKA conflict resolution, is more civilized than violence and typically cheaper and quicker than litigation.

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Common forms of conflict resolution include negotiation, a discussion among two or more people with the goal of reaching an agreement, mediation, a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party facilitator helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement, and arbitration, a process in which a neutral third-party acts as a judge of the dispute and decides the outcome for the parties.

But conflict resolution need not be so formal. Essential we each resolve conflict throughout every day of our lives. We don't consider our parents, siblings, bosses, employees, teachers and students to be warring factions but the conflicts with these people in our lives can be far more complex that some territorial skirmish between nation states.

When resolving our personal conflicts becomes more than we can handle there are some approaches than offer help. This assistance can be provided by your church, school, employer or even another family member. But if you want something a little more formal, consider:

Persuasion Techniques
Evaluation by a Third-Party
This involves enlisting a unbiased attorney, arbitrator or other professional to review the situation and try to facilitate a resolution by explaining the cost of litigation and likely outcome if the case. The parties then can assess if it is worth litigating or would they be better off just settling and moving on.

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Peer Referendum
This approach uses a common and respected friend, associate or family member to both of the parties is asked to help resolve the dispute. By having another person hear the complaints of both sides and offer a fresh objective the angst of one-on-one fighting can be mitigated and solutions struck.

It is important to remember that conflict is a normal and necessary part of any healthy relationship. Life would be far too boring if no one disagreed with you or objected to something you were doing. And how would we ever learn anything new if we were never challenged by our teachers, parents or employers?

How we deal with conflict in large part determines the quality of our lives. When mismanaged relationships can be tested and even harmed. By developing effective conflict resolution techniques and skills your personal and professional lives should prosper.

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What is Negotiating - Six Basic Negotiating Tips

We spend almost every minute of every day and night negotiating with others simply to survive. So it makes sense that we can improve our personal and professional lives by learning better the techniques of negotiating.

What is negotiating? It is the resolution of conflict. Conflict occurs naturally between parents and children, with medical and legal professionals, government officials, employees, retail clerks and others. The need to negotiate in our day-to-day situations or encounters permeates our very existence. Learning how to better handle such conflict is an important way to improve our personal situation. It leads to enabling us to enjoy life a lot more.

Learn how you can make negotiations work for you by following these six basic negotiating tips.

Persuasion Techniques

The First Tip - Never discuss settlement terms until the end of the process, when both parties are committed to trying to resolve the situation. Before discussing the meaty terms of a settlement get to know each other, find out what you can about possible competitors, learn as much as possible about the issue at hand, determine if this is really what you need or want, wait until they indicate that they really want or need to settle.

The Second Tip - The purpose of negotiating is to discover the term parameters of the other person. You want to know the most the other person will pay for something or the least they are willing to sell for so you can couch your initial offer or response to strategically position your offer or proposal.

The Third Tip - Try to get the other person to make the first offer or proposal. Knowing how to bracket your response will let you move the final outcome toward your goal. But the starting point is a critical step in getting there. Manipulating the other person into making the opening proposal allows you to set the parameters of the negotiation to your advantage.

The Fourth Tip - Prepare before meeting by considering why you are negotiating, what you expect to gain, why that is important to you, and what you expect to have to offer. If you fully understand your needs and wants you will be able to quickly determine if continuing a negotiation is worth your time.

The Fifth Tip - Test the market before sitting down. Get comparable prices, talk with others, and establish reasonable parameters for the negotiation. The key to a successful negotiation is keeping your proposals and counters within a range of reasonableness. Do not undermine your credibility by appearing ill-informed or overly aggressive.

The Sixth Tip - Be aware when it is time to bring the negotiation to a close. Don't let the discussion drag on as the other person may lose interest, patience or the desire to commit. Over negotiating often kills deals or agreements that should have been made.

Learning the answer to "what is negotiating" is a first step in understanding life a little better. Every interaction with another person is a small negotiation waiting to be escalated into a major dispute or argument.

Handling minor negotiations properly is the cement that builds good and lasting relationships.

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Negotiating - A Contact Sport

In our lives we have two basic choices, to take control or follow.

Negotiating is a contact sport. To be effective you must be able to persuade others to listen to your arguments, consider the arguments, and decide that they want to help you in some way achieve your goals.

They do not need to decide that you are right. They do need to want to help you or allow you to proceed toward your goal. In fact, they will try almost anything to win including making personal attacks.

To handle the conflict common t negotiations consider the following approach.

This is simple leadership. Managers must motivate employees to do their jobs allowing the manager to succeed. Teachers must motivate students to study and produce homework and learn. Parents must convince their children not to play in the street, do drugs or otherwise step in harm's way recklessly.

Whenever two or more people come in contact there will be some level of conflict. It may be as simple as passing on a narrow mountain path next to a sheer canyon wall or as complex as working out a peace accord between vying nations.

Resolving the disparate interests is a matter of establishing a commonality of interests. Leaders are adept at forging such realignment of individual interests. Individuals do the same when resolving conflict. They persuade others to consider alternatives in the hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable solution.


Manage Negotiations Like Dysfunctional Small Groups

We all know the saying “the best defense is a strong offense”. This is especially true in negotiations. Attitude and conviction of purpose can trump facts and reality. If you feel you should win you demeanor will reflect your passion and confidence. This is very convincing.

Bartering is about trading between equals. Negotiating is all about leadership. Attaining your goal requires your convincing another person to do something they prefer not to do. In the work environment managers entice workers to come to work and perform to certain standards. They do this through offering to pay the employee. This gets reasonable performance. To get exceptional performance managers must develop and apply leadership techniques. Negotiators must do the same. They must motivate exceptional performance on the part of another person or group.

If you don’t need the help of others there would be no reason to negotiate. You would simply do what you wanted to do with pure power.

In any dispute those involved make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups need to be lead or managed. Filling this role is what makes mediators effective at resolving disputes. Negotiators who take the initiative to become informal group leaders are most likely to have the best track record of achieving their goals.

Those involved in negotiations essentially are dysfunctional small groups. Negotiators should look at the various people around the table as a small but dysfunctional group in need of leadership.

The challenge is to motivate the group as a whole to focus on mutually beneficial goals.

A Winning Perspective

In order to win or prevail in a negotiation or argument we must accomplish our mission or close to it. Before engaging in a negotiation or settlement process we know what we want to do. It is clear to us. Arguments don't offer the luxury of pre-planning and you may not be focused at the outset on your goal other than winning the immediate point. In those cases we should not lose sight of the value of the relationship in proportion to the immediate incident.

We are a competitive species. It is natural to get caught up in the give and take of the negotiating process. When we are in the trenches it is often easy to lose sight of our objectives. This is especially true in personal relationships where emotions can cloud our judgment.

Throughout any negotiation take breaks to regroup and refocus on your objectives. Think through how things are going and where they are headed. Get control of your emotions and assess how your tactics and strategies are working. Most important, make sure you have not lost sight of your primary goal and objectives.

In personal disputes it is acceptable to call for breaks. This is especially important when engaged with a child. Before you let their tactics get you emotionally out of control, call for a break and send the child to his or her room to think about what they are saying or doing. This gives them a chance to become less emotional and focused on simply winning. It also gives you time to catch your breath, get your bearings, and plan a solution that will defuse the argument.

As a parent it is your responsibility to lead the way out of arguments. You children need to learn this from you so they, later in life, can do the same thing with their spouses or children. Everything you do with your kids as a parent is part of your role as a teacher and mentor. They are always watching and will later mimic your behaviors.

Power Balancing in Negotiations

Power in negotiations must be recognized and, if you are on the short end of the equation, balanced.

Other people presume to have power over us. Be they attorneys, accountants, doctors, clerks, teachers, or spouses who can make our lives miserable the power they presume to hold over us is based solely on the power we allow them to have.

Most power held by negotiators is illusory but powerful until it is challenged. Fear of everyday conflict, confrontation avoidance, can be overcome by understanding the process of any negotiation and learning how to garner enough power to impact the outcome of the situation in a positive fashion.

Surviving is getting along and accepting the status quo. Conquering is overcoming and prevailing. When we negotiate, the goal is to reach an agreement that meets our needs and advances our cause by satisfying some of our wants. As conflict is a constant part of our lives, it should be conquered rather than merely survived.

Conquering conflict does not necessarily mean crushing the other person. It means dispatching the negative connotation of conflict in your mind, the fear if you will, so that you can focus on resolving issues to advance your interests rather than merely preserving them.

The reality is that fear makes us act defensively, being defensive shuts down our ability to communicate. Lack of communication stymies negotiations.

Feelings Matter in a Negotiation

No one can win every negotiation. Many suggest making each negotiation a "Win/Win" situation. The reality is that there is always a winner and a loser.

It seems to be a more realistic strategy to seek a solution that allows both parties to come away with acceptable terms. Doing this provides each person enough incentive, positive or negative, to support and live up to any agreement that is reached.

Noteworthy is the mention of positive or negative incentives. Pain and fear are strong incentives. So is deprivation. The result of a negotiation need not be mutually beneficial. It just must result in mutual motivation to live up to the agreement.

This mutual incentive is the basis of every relationship whether it is in a marriage, friendship, or business setting. If you remove the incentive for either, the agreement may fail, and survival of the relationship may be jeopardized.

The feelings of losers must be considered. Over and above the incentive they may have to keep the agreement, the fact that they lost can breed feelings of resentment and ill will. In a close, personal relationship you do not want to win the battle but lose the war.

The practiced negotiator will always seek ways to make the other side feel good at the end of the negotiation. They know the relationship is often more important than the issue at hand.

Negotiating the BOTTOM LINE

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird must consume trice it's body weight in food each day. This is not a goal or objective. It is the bottom line!

Mediators and negotiators by definition have different goals. Both are seeking to reach an agreement, that is the sole and absolute goal of the mediator. He has no vested interest in the terms of such an agreement. Conversely, the negotiator has the goal of accomplishing something above and beyond the terms being negotiated. Typically the negotiation is part of a large initiative. He or she must appreciate the parameters of the negotiation and where to stop and walk away or when to agree and move forward.

Knowing your bottom line is perhaps the most important aspect of being a great negotiator. The bottom line, the minimum that you can accept, is the point that you must decide whether to continue to try to hold things together or simply walk away and seek a new opportunity elsewhere.

Appreciate that the other person also has a make-or-break threshold. Look for the non-verbal signs that indicate you are getting close to that point. If you want to make the deal, you will strategically need to keep the negotiation just this side of the brink. If you press to hard, he may walk away costing you a good opportunity.

Signs that someone is being pressed close to their bottom line include:

- Increased nervousness including fidgeting, rapid blinking, folding of the arms, sitting back away from the table, and disengagement in the conversation.
- Increased animosity in the dialogue.
- More personalized attacks.
- Smaller increments in concessions.
- An attempt to interrupt, postpone or stop the discussion.

When you are pressed to your bottom line and still can't make the deal, you can consider bluffing as a final, desperate tactic. The word "no!" has great impact and can often save the day; or end it. Bluffing is a last resort tactic that should be reserved until all you now have at risk is failure itself.

Do not confuse your goal with your bottom line. They are vastly different. Your goals are what you want to achieve while your bottom line is what you need to achieve.


BRACKETING tactics in Negotiations

When using heavy artillery against a grizzly bear, it is normal to shoot long, then short to establish the range and effect of the wind, then "walk" the rounds down until the grizzly is effectively de-clawed. Unless of course, if he is charging. In which case you should fire for effect without delay!

As a dispute resolution strategy, bracketing is an effective way to resolve differences. It is also the most heavily used approach in negotiations. It encompasses establishing "bid/ask" positions between the parties then working for a common ground, typically somewhere in the middle of the initial "bid/ask" parameters. The important aspect of bracketing is determining what your opening position should be.

A mediator's first challenge is to get the parties to open with reasonable offers to settle. This will likely be accomplished in private, working with one side then the other. While the objective of these breakout sessions is to generate an opening bid, the mediator will also be trying to learn what other issues are important to each party. It is these ancillary issues that often pose the greatest potential for settlement.

The initial offer or counter needs to be carefully considered. As most negotiations are not life and death situations, each party has the right to walk away and save time if they feel there is no chance of reaching an agreement. So the opening offer and counter need to either be within reality or one's bottom line if that is what is required to keep the discussions alive. By preparing and doing your research you should have a reasonably good idea of what it will take to reach an agreement. Your initial offer should reflect some reasonableness in that regard.

It is the number one tactic in bracketing to not make the initial offer. Getting the other person to make the first bid takes time, communication skills, and manipulation. The art of negotiation is not as much in the numbers as it is in the human skills of getting the other person to do what you want them to do. In this case, make the initial offer. That offer, when made, will tell you a lot. It establishes the expectations, knowledge, confidence and need for the deal of the other person. Take the time necessary to try to get the other person to make the first offer.

Once the opening bids are established, the mediator will need to formulate how he presents each bid to the other party in the best light so that the offer is not rejected but countered. This is where ancillary issues can be used. That is, when presenting a unusually high bid, the mediator may say to the other side, "While this may seem high, you have told me this is not really about money. So let's see if we can resolve the other issues and then come back to the money." What the mediator is doing is expanding the scope of the negotiations to their widest parameters. He will then work to bring the parties together by "horse-trading" issues and monetary considerations until both can justify accepting the final terms.

There is an art to bracketing. Moving too quickly will result in giving up too much. The amount of each concession also signals when the parties are getting close to their final positions. A mediator needs to be sensitive to this and work to always leave a door open for "just one more" concession if necessary.

Don't forget that time is a major commodity. The final concessions may have to be extracted by using the gambit, "We have so much invested in this session, one more small concession has got to be worth considering."

There are those times when you know you have to make a ridiculously low or high initial offer. The goal is to keep the dialogue going so you can sway the other person toward your bottom line. When you have to make an unreasonable offer, use the following delivery techniques to preserve the dialogue:

- Prepare the other party up front for the offer.
- Establish a relationship through preparatory dialogue.
- Desensitize the number using some humor in the delivery.
- Do not tender the offer with equivocation; deliver it with confidence.
- Explain the merits of the offer during the delivery.

Remember, you don't know the other person's situation or knowledge base. While your offer may be seemingly ridiculous, the other person may have pressures or needs that make it viable.

Negotiations are not easy. They are interpersonal conflicts that need to be managed. If they were easy we would all be living happy, healthy, wealthy lives with perfect families, burgeoning bank accounts, and ideal career paths.


Negotiating Tactics

Everyone talks about negotiating tactics. I prefer to think of tactics as tools to resolve problems. The term "tactics" often connotes efforts to manipulate another into agreeing to something they don't want to agree to do. That may be shortsighted as agreements forged on reluctance have a habit of falling apart as soon as the oppressed side has an opportunity to go back on a prior agreement.

The best agreement is a lasting agreement.

Tactics that coerce compliance are best reserved for last ditch efforts to save a deal that has all but failed.

The tools of negotiation are those tactics and strategies that work to bring the parties together. Such tactics serve to:

-Inform
-Reinforce
-Clarify
-Restate
-Concede
-Conform
-Contribute
-Demonstrate
-Illustrate
-Educate
-Amplify
-Bracket
-Acknowledge
-Appreciate
-Direct
-Redirect

Tactics that tend to be coercive attempt to:

-Intimidate
-Control
-Confront
-Deny
-Cajole
-Coerce
-Threaten
-Embarrass
-Ridicule
-Manipulate

Consider the tenor of the negotiation and your tactical intent before employing any negotiating tactic.

Blame can hurt a negotiation

When confronted a great-white without your spear gun, don't waste time dwelling on who forgot to pack it.

Blame is something we do to make ourselves feel better about something bad that has happened. Usually we seek to blame someone else for something that has happened to us. Blame may be comforting psychologically but it does not change the reality of what has happened.

In an argument or negotiation, casting blame heightens tempers and causes embarrassment. It does not help resolve anything.

If you blame a third party, you merely reduce your credibility. If you blame the other party, they will likely stiffen their resolve. At the very least, they will be unlikely to want to cooperate with you.
Blaming is an attempt to displace guilt. It is not an attempt to resolve a situation. Don't get caught up in the blame game if you sincerely want to find a viable accord. People granting concessions from guilt don't really want to do so. As with any coerced concession, they may later change their mind.

While casting blame is often a useless exercise, there can be situations that call for assessing blame. When a mediator conducts a mediation session, he does so as a arbitrator between upset people. One aspect of the mediation process that makes it effective is that the parties are provided a chance to confront each other directly. They get to say all the things about the other person that have been festering since the legal process started.

An adept mediator will seek to get both the facts and the feelings on the table at the beginning of the mediation session. In many instances, simply being able to confront the other person relieves so much of the frustration that the mediator is then able to start the constructive process of rebuilding trust between the parties. Often a settlement is not possible without this airing of feelings.

Blame can be used as a tactic in negotiations. Don't be afraid to take some of the blame. Taking blame can create an empathetic environment from which collaboration can emerge. If a discussion is heated and at an impasse, taking blame for some aspect of the difficulty often results in the other person recognizing your attempt to take responsibility and eases the tenor of the argument. If there is a misunderstanding, assuming part of the responsibility for that misunderstanding can diffuse an otherwise tense, non-productive environment.

Be sensitive to the climate of the negotiation and don't be afraid to intervene to improve the situation. Your ego is a small concession for a major gain.

Layered Barriers To Communications

When you come across a tribe of headhunters it is wise to make sure the person you are bartering with is the one who plans the dinner menu.

Other than on playgrounds most negotiations are not one-on-one situations.

-In the business environment it is typical that at least one of the parties is an employee of a company. As such, that person is burdened with a hierarchy of approval rights. It is typical for both parties to have the same burden of needing the approval of others before being able to fully commit to an agreement.

-In family disputes there may be spouses or other family members who have a voice in any agreement.

-In mediation settings there may be spouses, insurance companies or other entities that must be part of the final approval of any accord.

Part of the initial phase of any negotiation is to establish who the decision making authority is for the other party. In the case of a mediation, each of the parties may present layered authority issues.

Most people will reveal their lack of authority only if asked directly if they need someone else's consent. The human ego is typically fragile and to admit dependence is sometimes hard to do. The inclination is to personalize the situation. It is up to the negotiator or mediator to peel away the posturing and determine who the actual decision makers are. In the case of a mediation, the mediator needs to gain access to the decision maker. That may mean asking the person to attend or at least making sure he or she is available by telephone to confer and when appropriate, consent to an agreement if one is reached.

Layered approval structures create barriers to clear communication. Actual decision makers must rely on the interpretations of their delegatees as to the dynamics of the discussions. Each person between the decision makers unconsciously or consciously alter the message. Individuals have their respective filters that alter what they hear.

Consider a corporate negotiation. When dealing with a company or corporation, each person within the organization has his or her own set of filters. They each adjust what they hear. For example, the CEO has a long-range perspective, the CFO is concerned about quarterly earnings and cash flow, the VP of Real Estate is concerned about opening new locations to meet his or her budget and the real estate manager is worried about making his bonus. In addition, each has a personal agenda caused by personal issues such as meeting mortgage payments, college costs, a pending divorce or marraige, or retirement planning. In this scenario, it might be that the real estate manager is really trying to maximize his bonus by chasing any location that presents itself. The CFO is feeling the pressure of lagging sales and has been talking to the CEO about the need to slow development or actually retrench. And the CEO is contemplating a sale or merger that is based on growth through new locations. How is a landlord/owner supposed to know how to negotiate with the company when there are internal conflicts within the corporate culture? How will his message be altered before it reaches the CEO.

Layered barriers in a negotiation require aggressive communication countermeasures to insure that your message is being heard. Possible counter-measures include:

-Put all critical communications in writing. This way, those involved on the other side will at least be able to refer to your written message.

-Copy everyone possible on the communication to make sure it is shared.

-Pick up the phone and call the decision maker to simply inform him of the progress being made and see if there are questions you can answer.

-Refuse to negotiate further unless you have access to the other decision maker.

Negotiating is an exercise in communications. Layered negotiations poses a normal challenge until you gain access to the right person with whom to deal. A standard negotiating strategy is to try to keep key decision makers out of the room so they can assess the situation without the pressure to respond immediately. Take the time before negotiations commence to find out who is involved in the approval process and seek to work with the highest person you can reach.

Overcoming Barriers to Negotiations

When embarking on a hike in the woods don't expect it to be a walk in the park. Anticipating challenges and obstacles is the best insurance to winning a negotiation. Barriers to a settlement are the reasons negotiating is necessary in human interaction. Without them life really would be walk in the park!

It is not if, but where, barriers exist. I say where rather than when. If you view the negotiation process as a journey, you will find your path littered with obstacles challenging your progress. Seeking each out and resolving them is the only way to make it to the end of your journey.

Understanding that they exist is the first step. Uncovering them is the second. Resolving them is the third.

To better understand where the another person is coming from in a negotiation, take time to get to learn about the person. Visit his or her office. Get a feel for the person's personal life including family, interests and hobbies. Talk with mutual friends. In short, learn what you can before settling into the actual negotiation. Football coaches video the competition and then review the tapes with their players to identify and anticipate likely offensive and defensive barriers they will face. Negotiations should be no different. It is an adversarial sport.

When you are stymied by a barrier, find a way around it. If it is a personal prejudice, you may want to call in a co-negotiator to counter-act the image you represent. If it is a technical matter, you may want to enlist the help of an expert. Your role as a negotiator or mediator is to identify and resolve barriers.

In family situations the barrier can be generational. A father often filters the statements of his thirty-something son as though he was still an adolescent. And the son still looks at his father as a stern, judging parent. Changing this engrained perception is difficult because both are relying on years of first hand observation.

Barriers are the crux of human interaction. Rather than trying to avoid them, embrace them as natural challenges to be overcome. A positive attitude toward resolution is ninety percent of the battle.

Negotiators use Agendas, Hidden and Apparent

There are two types of agendas. Those that are public and set the course of a meeting and those that are hidden and guide the actual progress of the session. Uncovering hidden agendas is an important aspect in any negotiation or mediation.

It is the hidden agendas that truly impact how a settlement conference will proceed.

Controlling a meeting is key to controlling a negotiation. Managing the agenda establishes this control. Mediators garner their power as they control what happens, when it happens and where it happens during a settlement conference. They have the ability to call for caucus sessions, quiz both sides, and dictate certain rules. This often gives them the cloak of authority to get the parties to move toward reconciliation.

Hidden agendas, on the other hand, are what skilled negotiators use to manage the process as the informal group leader.

There are likely many hidden agendas at play during any negotiating session. Those of the primary negotiators and those of the other participants in the room. Each person is likely to have a personal agenda that differs slightly from their own teammates. Uncovering and capitalizing on the disparity of these agendas can be useful to a negotiator.

How does one uncover another's hidden agenda? By being a good detective:

1. Ask questions soliciting the other person's needs and wants.

2. Ask follow-up questions designed to cross check previous answers.

3. Seek similar responses from other members of the other negotiating team.

4. Feel free to question the responses.

5. Press to discover why the individual sitting across from you feels that way; as opposed to why his company or client may feel a certain way.

6. Identify if there are personal needs that are in conflict or amplify the stated objectives of the otherside.

7. Seek to discover if the real decision maker is at the table or available to be reached for input or decisions.

8. Gather and digest the responses to create the 'fabric' of the other side's basic needs and stated wants regarding the situation.

9. Observe non-verbal reaction that may indicate responses are less than forthright.

Negotiation is far more than simply sitting at the table and exchanging proposals. It is the art form of learning enough about the other person to be able to engage him or her in a dialogue that makes them want to work with you. Without absolute power, your primary agenda is to uncover enough about the other person to be able to manage the discussion toward satisfying your needs.

Examples of Leadership Skills

Leaders emerge from the ranks of men. Why they become leaders when others do not probably has been studied and observed since men and women began to merge into tribes and clans.

Newsweek ran a story about George Washington in the May, 23, 2005 issue. They observed, "What was the hold he (George Washington) had over men? There was nothing foreordained about george Washington's success a general. But he saw things as they were, and he saw himself as he was. As subject as any man to moments of doubt and uncertainty, he managed to summon the self-confidence necessary to persevere amid diseaster. He was committed heart and soul to the cause, resilient, open to new ideas and seldom failed to learn from his mistakes. Through the often dark year of 1776, he would not only overcome his own fears but help his countrymen conquer theirs, too - a supreme act of providential leadership."

To negotiate well one must lead those involved, especially their opponents, to reach a mutually viabable agreement.

Being passionate about the negotiation establishes one's conviction and commitment to the process. No argument is properly delivered without conviction and passion. If you are not prepared or if you do not believe in what you are asking it will be evident unless you are very, very fortunate. Don't rely on luck to see you through.

When you enter the room do so with zest. This energy is contagious. It is a positive force. It shows that you are confident, focused, and passionate about what you are about to do; fight for your cause. It bgins to set the attitude of the small group thay will have ot work together.

Develop ways to telegraph this personal attitude:

- Check your tiredness or personal problems at the door. Actually take a personal moment before entering the room to consciously do this. If you are with a team, step aside to make sure you are mentally ready to enter. If you are leading the group, you should do this before even meeting up with your teammates.

- Enter the room boldly. Make an entrance, don't just enter.

- Make it a big deal to meet someone foe the first time. Recognize personally each of the people in the room. Pause when shaking hands and mentally register the person's name and facial features. Make good, firm, direct, in-control eye contact with each person observing how they react.

- Make it a point to see if everyone has everything they need, even if it is not your office. Take control of the environment. Be assertive in seeing to the needs of others.

When everyone is ready to start the negotiaitons, reinforce your positive attitude with a positive statement. Something a simple as "I'm ready to do this!" sends a very clear message across the table.

Understanding the dynamics of influence or leadership will help you to initiate and maintain control over the discussions. Resolving conflict requires garnering the support of two or more opposing forces to move forward together. Leadership can play a large part in this process.

Business Management Skills in Negotiations

In any dispute those involved make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups need to be lead or managed. Filling this role is what makes mediators effective at resolving disputes.

Similarly, negotiators who take the initiative to become informal group leaders are most likely to have the best track record of achieving their goals.

Negotiations essentially are dysfunctional small groups. All small groups need to be lead to achieve their goals. Group leaders establish objectives and set a course to obtain the desired results. Negotiators should look at the various people at the table, from both sides, as a small but dysfunctional group in need of leadership.

The challenge is to motivate the group as a whole to focus on mutually beneficial goals.

Mediators, trained to manage such small groups, have the benefit of being assigned the role of leader. Negotiators must acquire the role through application of management skills to capture the respect and attention of their opponents. Demonstrating expertise, professionalism and passion are common traits of strong business leaders. These traits also serve the negotiator well when establishing a position of group authority.

A manager and a mediator have their positions established by others. Negotiators have to earn theirs without directly confronting the other person. Collaborative managerial styles are excellent means of subtly establishing a role of leadership. Such styles include:

- Establish a Common Goal: By giving each person a vested interest in the outcome of the negotiations you establish a common cause that should underscore the reasons behind each collective decision the parties make. Identifying a common goal is the first step towards establishing an informal, small group which can be lead.

- Parity of Power: By recognizing the power bases of the parties, you can dissolve misconceptions about who has the most power and create an environment where both parties need each other to resolve the situation.

- Persuasion: Mediators are masters of group persuasion. They must get warring parties to set aside their differences and reach an accord. Most people are used to being told what is right to do. A mediator is unable to make the decision for the group. He does not function as a judge or jury. He must encourage each of the parties to set aside their animosity and strive to work out a solution. He may have to persuade a recalcitrant party to let go of their emotional baggage and focus just on the settlement terms. He can do this by re-stating the other person's position or proposal in a more favorable light. He may remind the disgruntled party of the time and expense of pursuing the matter in court and point out that settling during mediation might cost less in the long run. What the mediator needs to do is get the party to soften an absolute rejection so some dialogue can start.

Making others want to do things they don't initially want to do is what successful mediators and negotiators do. Hitting the other person over the head with facts and demands is a good approach if you have power and authority on your side. If not, you must resort to the basics: inform, educate, and enlist.

Inform - By informing the other person of salient facts, tangible information and logical arguments, you are providing reasons for the person to reconsider their position without losing face.

Entice - By creating alternative and/or innovative incentives for the other person to reconsider their position, you are expanding the negotiating arena to include other commodities that may make an otherwise untenable accord viable.

Enlist - By seeking the other person's help in solving the dilemma, you are cashing in emotional concessions in return for advancing your cause.

All three approaches are basic management tactics designed to get the other person to do what you need him to do. They work as well in the negotiating arena as they do in the business environment. Essentially they are non-threatening management styles designed to motivate another person to action.

Being able to capture a leadership role within a negotiating small group environment is a management challenge. If you can achieve it, you will be in an excellent position to also broker a settlement or construct a viable accord.


Basic Management Skills in Negotiations

Any situation involving two or more people is a management opportunity. Those who take the initiative will typically prevail whether it is a physical confrontation or simply deciding which movie to see. Negotiations are only slightly more complicated management opportunities. Unlike a fight where blows are thrown, the combatants must feign civility and control. Initiative and leadership, however, are the most reliable tactics to be used to prevail.

Those involved in a dispute make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups intrinsically need to be managed. This is what makes mediators effective in settling disputes. They are adept at taking control and managing the mediation process. Negotiators can benefit from learning mediating techniques. Parents, too, benefit from approaching family disputes as a group dynamic situation in which each family member has a role and voice. Using the mediation technique of inclusion to integrate everyone's needs into the solution can provide a mutually agreeable group decision.

How does one take control of an informal group?

By exerting influence and demonstrating leadership traits. In a negotiation, there are some ways to take the initiative:

- Initiate the call to arrange for the meeting.
- Host the meeting where you will have the ability to perform administrative tasks through your staff for the group.
- Prepare and present (or have on the table) an agenda for the meeting.
- Acting as the host, introduce everyone to each other and make sure they have coffee, water or anything else they may need.
- Position your pad and pen at the head of the table before the others arrive.
- Before someone else suggests it, call the meeting to order.

These seem like small things but they demonstrate your confidence, your can-do attitude, and your control of the environment. All that is left is for you to control the discussion. That is not as easy. But you will have made a good start.

Managing implies taking responsibility for the actions of others. A negotiation leader or a mediator delegates responsibilities not only to his co-negotiators, if any, but to the other side. This delegation of assignments serves not only to get the job done but also to give everyone a vested interest in the outcome. A mediator advances the process by directing and delegating the participants in a mediation. This process serves to make both parties valuable to the process, more equal in their respective statures, and, ultimately, more likely to be able to come to reach an agreement.

In a negotiation, group participation can have a similar impact. By getting both sides involved in working together, the resulting 'attitude' should be more supportive of reaching a mutually viable accord.

Two ways to get two people openly at odds to work together include:
Start with simple tasks that are unrelated to the primary issue.

1. Suggest the other person come with you to the coffee room to help get the coffee, cream and sugar.

2. Suggest methods of sharing information. "If I can explain to you how I have valued the property will you demonstrate to me your cost basis?" This is a tactic to get the parties involved in valuing a piece of real estate by working together. It calls upon each to be an expert in their own right. It also allows you to gather essential information.

Disorganized groups without leadership quickly collapse into chaos. Chaos rewards the stronger of the parties; it does not yield a negotiated settlement. Chaotic situations offer opportunities for someone to intervene and bring some order to the situation. Effective negotiators seek to control the environment and manage the process. It is better to be deciding what is going to happen next than to be told what to do.

Don't relinquish your role to another unless doing so tactically serves your ends. There are times to defer to another person to advance your cause.

Decisions and Negotiating

Negotiators must be able to make decisions. Large decisions, small decisions, important decisions and mundane decisions. The process of making decisions is what advances a negotiation to its final outcome. Decision-making requires confidence, awareness, information, and courage. Most of all, it requires being prepared.

Prepare properly and agree to meet only when you are comfortable deciding what to do. Even though you may be meeting to gather information, the other person may present an opportunity for you to make an offer or accept a proposal. Being prepared to consider and act on such an opportunity enables you to take advantage of "The Moment".

There are those times when things just seem to go right and an opportunity to act presents itself. Unless you know what you want and need from a given situation, you will not be in a position to respond. Failing to do so may cost the deal later when the other person discovers other options or rethinks his or her offer.

People naturally resist making decisions. This is especially true when they feel they are being pressured to do so. To be an effective negotiator one needs to know how to prepare others to make decisions and commit. The climate of the negotiation plays a significant role in making everyone comfortable with making important decisions. Mediators work hard at giving everyone at the table a sense of power. They also use caucus or breakout sessions to separate people when emotions become too volatile. A negotiator can assume the role of a mediator in any negotiation by being sensitive to the climate of the discussions. By subtly taking responsibility for the "comfort" of the others, the negotiator assumes the mantle of a small group leader and may gain the ability to direct the discussion without having to force the issues through confrontational tactics.

Preparing for the Moment of Decision Tactics:

- If tempers have flared during the discourse, seek ways to mend the personal fences before pressing for decisions. People need to feel in control to commit willingly.

- As you approach major decisions it is helpful if you have laid the groundwork with small decisions along the way. This gets everyone used to committing and following through on their word.

- Review the terms carefully and solicit edits form everyone. By incorporating their changes they are becoming invested in the agreement.

- Encourage everyone to read the document one final time. You are intentionally slowing the process to ease the stress. Watch how others react to reading the document. If you see a cloud of doubt on someone's face, stop them and ask what is bothering them. You want everyone as comfortable as possible before placing pens in their hands.

- Review the reasons the others are agreeing to the terms and reinforce why their decision is a good one.

- Take a break and suggest a beverage or something to interject a chance to relax before actually sitting down to sign documents. Well timed breathers are a great way to diffuse mounting tension.

Decisions are pivotal moments in negotiations. Treat each decision, even the small ones, with respect. This builds a degree of comfort on the part of the other person in the process. Once a decision is made, reinforce why it was a good decision. It does not hurt to intimate that you may have conceded more than expected to build up the other's ego a bit. You want each decision to become easier as you build toward the really important decisions.

Negotiation, like any other process, can be managed. Who chooses to manage the process will likely prevail at the end of the day.