Facilitating Facts Failure Ferment Forcing Decisions Friends


When selling a group of headhunters a new head-shrinking appliance, it is important to resist using your head in the demonstration.

Facilitating an accord is the role of a mediator. But many corporate negotiators also have the same challenge. They are working between landlords and sellers trying to get terms the Company Executive Committee will approve. Corporate negotiators, be they entry level real estate managers or seasoned vice presidents of development, have little real power and no authority to bind the company when meeting with a landlord. Their role, regardless of what they profess to be the case, is one of facilitating the agreement.

Burdened with this shortcoming, corporate negotiators must garner their own power so that landlords will deal with them.

There are several ways to do this:

-Demonstrate your knowledge of the company and its approval process by sharing the number of transactions you have had approved by the corporate process and how many were rejected.

-Explain how much the company will invest once an agreement is made until approval is sought. This expenditure indicates how serious the company is about entering into options (which is what your contract will be).

-Sell the landlord on how strong your company is as a prospective tenant and that waiting for approval is a prudent decision on his part.

-Share the frustration the seller may be having in dealing with you rather than a decision maker and convince him that you will personally go to bat to get the deal approved. In this way, he can justify relying on you as you have offered to be his ally.

Be sincere when giving your opinion of the probability the transaction will be approved or not. Explain the likely scenarios that might kill the deal. Brainstorm the likelihood of that happening.

In short, sell yourself as the right person with whom the other person should be negotiating. Gain is confidence that you will do everything possible to gain approval. Then follow through after the contract is signed to keep him apprised of how the approval process is going. While this deal may fall apart, it is likely that you will run across this landlord or a friend of his in the future. Remember, it is your reputation that precedes you.



Razor sharp teeth, extreme speed, able to smell blood miles away, and a constant hungry are the facts any diver should consider before swimming with a Great White.

Facts determine the outcome of most negotiations. Skill, technique, artistry, power, intellect, and experience all impact how the facts surrounding a situation are used or misused. Knowing the facts as they are and not as you would like them gives you insight and forewarning of weaknesses in your position. From such knowledge you can establish a strategy to steer discussions clear of the dangerous areas or toward your areas of strength.

Facts can be sourced from:

-Written material about the subject.

-Internal records relating to this and similar situations.

-Public Records relating to this situation and the other person or company.

-Third party records, testimony or research.

-Conversations with the other person or third parties.

Effective negotiation requires diligent research and planning. Preparedness is the key to making the most out of a given situation. The gunslinger approach to negotiations only works when you are facing down an ill-prepared opponent. Don't chance such a confrontation unless you have no other choice.



It is one thing to fail to stop a raccoon stealing your garbage. It is another to challenge a grazing grizzly when camping without your rifle. Don't take on what you know you can't win. It is better to retreat to fight another day.

If you never fail at negotiations then you are setting the standard too low. If you are working for someone else, you have an obligation to achieve the best results you can. To do this, you have to put stretch into your goal setting. To always be able to succeed means that you are willing to give up too much to accomplish the task. Many corporate real estate executives are compensated not for how well they negotiate but for how many sites they secure. They are not negotiating. They are purchasing sites and spend much of their time justifying the price they are paying to their own boss rather than trying to bring in the best price possible. Landlords know this and use time as an asset against such negotiators.

Similarly, mediators are not negotiating for either side. Rather, they are seeking to facilitate an agreement between the parties. What they bring to the negotiating table is perspective and knowledge. Knowledge of the mediation process that is designed to help both parties resolve their situation. If they can work things out through mediation it is typically preferable to having a judge to make the decision.

Negotiating is the process of using all available assets as efficiently as possible to achieve your objective. Depending on the situation, the assets you have to use can vary from cash in a business transaction to approval in a family dispute. Something will be exchanged for the behavior you are seeking. The process of negotiations calls for the balance or give and take between the parties to come to a mutually acceptable accord.

It is shortsighted to concede regularly to achieve peace in family disputes. Each battle forges the final outcome of the war. Conceding too often will insure you lose the war even though you may feel that you are winning individual battles by claiming the peace.

Negotiations fail for any number of reasons. Some are within your control, some are not. You can learn from both types of failures.



Spending quiet time with a gorilla may get him used to having you around and enable you to learn his ways. Just make sure he is ready for you to leave before jumping up and startling him.

We live in a fast-paced culture where immediacy is the norm. This rapid-fire approach to living, business and life is fulfilling in many regards. With non-speed technology, computers fly through tasks and we have more available time.

But some things, like a good wine, take time to properly age and ferment. Negotiations also have a natural gestation pace. The timing of your responses signals your position on the subject. Requesting a response or responding to a proposal too soon indicates you are anxious to make the deal. Let a proposal sit while you think it over. Frequently you will think of something that needs to be changed while doing something totally unrelated. Don't be pressured into responding until you have allowed some fermentation to take place in your mind.

Fermentation Tactics:

-Intentionally delay a response to make the other person nervous. The longer you wait the more he will become concerned you don't like the offer.

-Try using an extended pause to a verbal proposal to see if the other person decides to offer something additional to make the offer more attractive.

-Ask for clarification on terms to gain additional time to consider the offer. Make these requests in writing to gain even more time.

-Respond quickly. The other person is likely to match your pace. If you want things to move forward quickly, suggest using e-mail and faxes to keep things going.

-Get access to the other person by asking for their e-mail address and mobile telephone numbers.

-Use time limits to your advantage. Demand an immediate response to prevent the other person from evaluating your offer too long. Make it an 'accept the offer now or it's off the table' proposal to prevent competitors who may be lurking in the wings from bidding against you.

-Explaining that the offer is only good for the meeting as you have to respond to another offer when you leave the meeting forces the other person to call your bluff or respond.

-Always try to gain control of the documentation. Being the drafter allows you to speed up or slow the transaction timing.

Effective negotiation requires diligent research and planning. Preparedness is the key to making the most out of a given situation. The gunslinger approach to negotiations only works when you are facing down an ill-prepared opponent. Don't chance such a confrontation unless you have no other choice.



With your back to a cliff and an empty gun, the approaching lion has his dinner entree selected...you! You have other dinner plans and are wishing you had picked up a parachute instead of your knapsack. You need a third option before you decide what to do.

People naturally resist making decisions. This is especially true when they feel they are being pressured to do so. To be effective at resolving disputes, you need to know how to prepare others to make firm decisions.

The important thing to remember is that the climate of the discussions plays a significant role in allowing everyone to become comfortable with making important decisions. Your role in managing the resolution process is to monitor the comfort level around the table and begin to reinforce the appropriateness of the final agreement terms as the time approaches to sign the contract.

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 ot 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.

Making a decision on your part is also subject to second thoughts and doubt. Don't be hesitant to ask for a little time to review the document or consider why you are agreeing. No one should demand you sign immediately unless they don't want you to think through what the agreement says.



In the wild predators do not mix with their prey. The prey would never stop to chew the fat as it would likely be their own.

Friends are a very special group of people to you. They are there for you through thick and thin. They make parties jollier and pain bearable. They are also the last group you should negotiate with if you value them as friends.

To negotiate is to capture a victory at the other person's expense. It is not like bartering where you exchange a fair value for a service. It is trying to get more for what you are offering. Doing this with a friend is not likely to endear them to you.

But there is no reason not to seek ways to become comfortable with business acquaintances with whom you find the need to negotiate. This is done frequently as a way of building bridges to facilitate agreements. Mediators also use the exchange of information as a way to humanize the parties to each other. Building bridges facilitates solutions as both parties are likely to be more forgiving or tolerant once they acknowledge that the other person has feelings.

Tactics to Build Personal Relationships in Negotiations:

-Take the time when you first meet to see if there are some common grounds with the other person. This may be a similar interest in a sport or hobby. It may be a common interest in children and their activities. Find some non-negotiation-related topics to discuss as a warm-up to addressing the dispute.

-Start telephone conversations or meetings with follow-up inquiries as to the common interests you uncovered in your first meeting. Don't just plunge into the primary topic.

-Find off-site opportunities to get together such as golf, tennis, or just a drink or meal where you can discuss the disputed topic without trying to resolve it.

-Put yourself in the other's shoes and assess how reasonable your position is. If appropriate, find a way to soften how you ask for what you need without diluting the terms. Sometimes the presentation is more of a put off than the actual terms. Be sensitive to the other person's ego and needs when crafting proposals.

Friendships developed within a negotiation can become strong bonds. These relationships can help in future negotiations. When the matter is resolved, take the time to firm up the relationships created while working together. Even if you were obviously the victor, affirm the other person's contribution to the process. If tempers have flared, work out the differences and try to get matters back on a civil basis. Remember that your paths may cross again and you will want to be well received at that time.


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