There are times when you must negotiate through someone, when you can’t get to the decision-maker. The challenge is like the game telephone. Every person between you and the decision-maker has the ability to impair or improve your chance of success. What to do?
One suggestion is to make the person you are dealing with your advocate. To do that you must find a way to motivate his or her support.
Typically those who negotiate on behalf of others have, among their motivators, a need to be seen as an effective problem solver. This enables them to save the time of the true decision-maker. It also serves to make the negotiator look to be promotable within the organization, a person who can think on his or her own.
The tactic is one of empowering your adversary:
1 – Establish what you want to get approved, that the other person does not have the ability to agree, and that he or she is able and willing to approach the division-maker on your behalf.
2 – Provide the person with a very clear, concise, and written message to be carried to the decision-maker. It should include your concerns, your history in the situation, and why your request should be considered. By placing it in writing you are limiting how much your message can be modified or filtered by the messenger.
3 – Empower the other person to solve the problem for his boss. Tell the person, in confidence, what you really need. That you are sharing this information personally and not in writing so he or she can suggest it as a solution knowing that it will be accepted if offered.
You have given the messenger a way to solve the problem for the decision-maker and personally look good doing so. Now he or she has a way to make a bad situation payout in a personal way. The messenger is more likely to try harder to sell your cause now that there is something personal to be gained.
It is hard to get your message delivered through another person because we each filter what we hear. Relying on another to sell your cause is even more difficult. The best approach is to find a way to make the messenger and advocate.
In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss the importance of getting your message to the decision-maker as effectively as possible.