5 Negotiating Tips to Uncover Hidden Agendas
Hidden agendas are the personal are the private goals and objectives that impact how we publicly negotiate. Everyone has these agendas. Very likely your hidden agenda will be far different than the other person's or even those of co-negotiators.
Hidden agendas are the meat and potatoes of good leaders/managers. Good leaders have a sense of mission, a purpose that garners the respect of others. Negotiators who can demonstrate these same leadership traits will garner the same respect. Just as leaders can impact the outcome of meetings so too can effective negotiator-leaders impact the outcome of a negotiation.
Every participant in a negotiation has a personal agenda. Those agendas are hidden unless they are shared with the group and most people don't openly share personal agendas. If they did, there would be little mystery or drama in life or our personal interaction.
So how do you uncover another's hidden agenda? By being a good detective:
1. Ask questions. Soliciting the other person's needs and wants is essential in setting the parameters of the negotiation.
2. Think like a reporter: Ask follow-up questions designed to cross-check or validate previous answers.
3. Feel free to question responses. It is important to understand what you are being told.
4. Gather and digest the responses to develop a basic understanding and appreciation of the other person's perspective, basic needs and stated wants regarding the situation.
5. Observe the non-verbal reactions that may indicate responses that are less than forthright.
Negotiation is far more than simply sitting at the table and exchanging proposals. It is the process of learning enough about the other person to be able to engage the person in a dialogue that makes that person want or need to work with you.
Remember, negotiating is persuading someone else to do what you want them to do.
HOW DO WE NEGOTIATE - THREE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS IN PERSONAL NEGOTIATING
The population of America is over 300,000,000 people. That means there are 300,000,000 different ways we negotiate as we each handle negotiations uniquely. Negotiating is a contact sport. We are always in the game. To be effective you must be able to persuade others to listen to your arguments, consider your arguments, and decide that they want to help you achieve your goals.
They do not need to decide that you are right. They do need to want to help you.
There are three essential elements in personal negotiating:
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.
Resolving the disparate interests is a matter of establishing a commonality of interests.
People can be motivated by many things. Simple fear, the desire to be liked, a respect for the other person, or simple avarice and greed are examples of persuasive techniques. But there are many ways to persuade others to help you. They all play off the core psychological drivers that effect most people.
In a relationship with a spouse, child or parent a consistent response, positive or negative, on your part will condition the other person to react in a specific way. Parents, teachers and employers use this persuasion tactic of reinforcing positive behavior. Be aware that the opposite approach can work to your disadvantage. If you bully or abuse your spouse or peers you can expect them to begin to expect this behavior and react to it. Eventually your actions may destroy the basis for the relationship.
Persuasion is not a bad thing. Everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. If you are unable to convince others to want to help you, you will find it hard to achieve your objectives and maintain healthy relationships.
Compromise, in a negotiation, is the process by which each party gives a little to get a little. It is the process of merging interests to yield a balanced outcome meeting the needs, not necessarily the wants, of the parties to the agreement.
Relationships require compromise. In order to get along long term both individuals must develop the desire to help the other achieve happiness and satisfaction. This is not easily achieved if you are always trying to win every argument, or every discussion, every fight.
It is important to learn to help each other achieve your respective goals. To do that you need to take the time to understand the other person's needs and wants.
For any relationship to work there must be a basis of trust. Negotiations are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the other. This need to trust each other is essential for groups of people to function well together.
If one person makes a habit of breaching a confidence, breaking his word or outright lying distrust will cause strife and distrust in the relationships. This distrust, if left unchecked, will grow into resentment and ultimately ruin the relationship.
Consider your future when contemplating breaching the trust with someone you care about. Is the quick victory really worth the long term impact?
Do Politicians Negotiate
In a manner of speaking politicians negotiate for your vote. They stand up and tell you what they think you want to hear to get your vote. They make promises you expect them to keep. In essence, they make a contract with you based on trust.
No matter the negotiation venue every instance of human interaction requires a basis of trust upon which commitments can be built. Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussions, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews are all examples of human interaction. Whenever our species interacts, the discussions are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the others.
Therein lays the problem. Politicians from all sectors of the political landscape have become so adept at playing to the crowd that we no longer trust them. They have proven time and again that when they get to Washington they will quickly forget the promises they made that enabled them to get there.
So the contract is breached. You delivered and they reneged. What should you do?
When someone breaches a contract you have several recourses. Some are based in law and some are personal. A politician who breaches his contract with the voters knows they will never sue for specific performance or otherwise try to enforce the contract through legal channels. But they should fear the other ramifications of breaching the contract with their constituents.
As a voter you have the privilege of voting. Actually it is your responsibility. Your representation should be very important to you. If a politician promises to represent you to get your vote then does not do so once elected you should consider the following actions:
1. Spread the word. A word-of-mouth campaign, if it catches on, can be effective in either causing the politician to rethink his actions or come back to the local group to try and make amends.
2. Speak Up. Call, email, mail, fax and otherwise make sure that he or she knows that you are not happy, that you are telling your friends, and that come the next election he will have a hard time getting your vote. The pressure is always on the politician during the run up before an election.
3. Find a New Candidate to Support. There are lots of wanna-be dog catchers. If your politician fails to represent you, find and encourage someone who will to run and actively support this person.
4. Report the Breach. Everyone has a boss. Politicians are no different. Their 'bosses' are those who give them money to run. If you are unhappy with you or representatives performance write or email or otherwise contact the local party organization, the state organization, and the national committee making your concerns known. And copy your representative each time. Do not let them forget that they serve at our pleasure; not the other way around!
We are seeing trust erode as politicians pursue seemingly unpopular programs and use questionable means to secure the votes necessary to get them passed. The culture of backroom negotiations and payoffs is the same old political practices common to both political parties that the American people have come to distrust. This distrust, if left unchecked, will undermine the general public's faith in government.
How to Negotiate the National Deficit and Debt Ceiling
We are all watching as our representatives in Washington struggle over their negotiations.
Much can be learned watching this political theater.
The most important negotiating tip to take away from this is:
Do not go to Washington to learn how to negotiate!
It is obvious that most people in Congress regardless of their political affiliation forgot long ago the basic tenants of negotiating.
Integrity is definitely lacking when bending the truth on national television is the norm. Double-speak and falsehoods are now an accepted part of the national dialogue.
Honesty is lost when terms are changed after agreements are struck or proposals are rejected before being considered. Honesty is more than not lying. In negotiations it includes having the honor to respect one another and consider fully each proposal.
The desire to get things done, an essential characteristic of an effective negotiator, seems lacking on the part of all involved. It appears most of our elected representatives are content with worrying more about the next election than the Country.
If we are to believe what we hear, we are out of time to get things done . Those in Washington have had ample time to negotiate the debt ceiling or address the national debt but the political posturing and antics have taken away that luxury. When rushed negotiators make mistakes. We can expect a very big mistake to be made in Washington!
Being informed is essential to a negotiator. In Washington so much time appears spent on spinning the message that there is little time to actually understand the fullness of the problem and evaluate proposed solutions. The general consensus is that none of the current plans do anything to solve the underlying problem; our deficit spending. Effective negotiators do not waste time. Posturing and bluffing in negotiations takes time which is rapidly running out. An able negotiator knows when to settle down and work on the problem. Our collective representatives seem to have lost that perspective.
A final observation. In this negotiation between power players there seems to be little power wielded. These reputed power players have been left with the sole strategy of merely blocking each other rather than actually moving the discussion forward. The President has been cut out of the actual fray. The Senate killed the House bill without considering it. And the House killed the Senate bill before it formally arrived.
The result is a stalled negotiation with time running out. This appears to be the perfect setting to see the negotiators forced into making a big mistake in terms of solving the problem. They may reach an agreement but it will likely fall short of solving anything.
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.
The Art of Persuasion
"Yes" is what we all strive to make another person say. The objective of negotiating is to inspire or coerce the other person to agree to your terms. Persuading others is the art of the process.
People can be motivated by many things. Simple fear, a desire to be liked, respect for the other person, or simple avarice and greed. Each are motivators in a negotiation.
In most negotiations we assume that the prime motivators are avarice and greed. It is the use of other, less obvious motivators that makes the difference between those who barter and those who negotiate. Bartering is an exchange, typically a fair exchange of like value. Negotiating has the potential of creating value from the process. It is much like making 1+1=11 rather than 2.
There are many persuasion techniques. They all play off the core psychological drivers that effect most people. They represent the basic negotiating tools most of us use consciously or unconsciously.
One such technique is the use of classical conditioning when trying to persuade others. The Pavlovian model can be effective. Ivan Pavlov studied the cause, effect and reaction relationship and how consistent repetition of a reward or punishment can reinforce a specific performance. The important lesson is that the subject need not understand the cause but learns to relate or anticipate the response to the action.
A consistent emotional response, positive or negative, on your part can be used to condition the other person to react in a specific way. This persuasion tactic involves reinforcing positive performance such as reaching an agreement with you with a positive emotional reaction.
People want to please others. It is human nature.
If you proactively reinforce their performance when you reach an agreement with something with a sincere smile or handshake or appreciative gesture, you will be establishing a reinforced relationship subliminally. You can do the same with negative incentive such as frowning, feigned anger or frustration. The key is consistent reinforcement on small matter to build the performance pattern.
Like it or not, everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. There is no way around it. Whether dealing with a spouse, child, boss, employee, peer, ally, school mate, date, teacher, banker or car salesman, we are trying to hear that special word, "Yes!"
If you are unable to convince others to your way of thinking, you will constantly be doing their bidding or lose the relationship. Rather than resenting others who are telling you what to do realize that it is your fault, not theirs that you are not more persuasive.
The Art of Persuasion
"Yes" is what we all want to hear. There are some basic situations that motivate utterance of that word:
Seeking reciprocation from a past deed - People naturally feel an obligation to return favors. Do not miss opportunities to help others, to do something for them in any venue. Later, you will have a little more leverage. Besides, it is nice to be nice. People really do appreciate it.
Establishing your authority in one or more areas by being active in trade or professional associations, publishing articles or books, promoting yourself through public service or excelling in your work all lay the ground work to be able to entice others to agree with your proposal when the time comes to make your case. The human nature is to defer to experts rather than trust ourselves. Leadership capitalizes on this propensity.
Scarcity of any service or product increases its value. By establishing the uniqueness of what you have to offer you are creating value at the negotiating able. The less available a resource is the more people will seek it.
Personality matters in persuading others to say "yes". People are more likely to want to say " yes" to a proposal offered by someone they like. The second motivator is fear. In that case they are seeking to avoid wrath rather than please someone.
Societal conformance provides the shelter some need to agree. By remaining part of the herd they are taking less risk. Pointing out that others have agreed to your proposed terms indirectly gives the other person a sense of safety in that they are not granting a non-conforming concession.
While there are many other persuasion techniques these basic tenants seem to be the core psychological drivers of persuasion without the use of power, fear or threats. They represent the basic tools most of us have available in our daily lives.
Everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. There is no way around it. Whether dealing with a child, pet, boss, ally, school mate, date, teacher, banker or car salesman, we are trying to hear that special word, "Yes!".
If you are unable to convince others to your way of thinking, you will be constantly doing their bidding. You will quite likely resent being told what to do. Realize that it is your fault, not theirs, that you were not more persuasive.
Why do we negotiate?
Is it our avarice and greed that compels us to try to best our fellow man or woman? It it the need to win? What is it in some of our psyches that motivates the quest to size the upper hand, to compel obedience, to prevail?
Negotiation stems not from avarice and greed but from our primal instinct to survive and thrive.
Man, alone and on his own, would fend of other men and scrounge for roots and berries while looking for the hapless female to take back to his cave. His negotiations were against his environment to see it though the night and, if fortunate, to seed a child. Life was simple if short-lived.
Those fortunate enough to find unprotected females soon learned the challenges of heading up small clans. Gathered around a small fire our ancient ancestors would find ways to work together to share the tasks of protecting and providing for their small clan and, most important, growing it. The size of the clan gave it the strength to find more food, work together to fell larger beasts and generally survive yet another night.
As clans grew and became more numerous, clans started to interact. The result was initially conflict based as they fought one another out of fear and distrust protecting their turf and their women and children. The currency of these negotiations was rather basic: death or life. Victory was clear.
In spite of their attempts to kill all outsiders who threatened them, eventually clans began to merge and learned to get along with each other. Civilization was sprung and these new entities did what....carried on the same habits as the original clans. They feared and distrusted other feudal states and tribes and did their best to eradicate any who came into their arena of influence. But commerce did emerge in spite of their baser instincts.
Times have not changed a lot. Be it 21st century nation-states or vast religions spanning the world, fear and distrust are the sentiments that prevail. But the incentives that drive those feelings are based on the need to provide and protect. So there is a balance of good and evil at play.
We negotiate to preserve the value of what we have achieved. In the dawn of man's existence the clan that learned how to raise and harvest produce sought to trade it for what they needed in a fashion that they benefited as much as possible from the exchange. Bartering quickly gave way to negotiating when the concept of currency was introduced. Currency gave a standard of value to be applied universally. Now barterers has the ability to try to increase the value of their labor by getting more currency for their product than bartering it for the neighbor's pig.
But currency is not the root of negotiating. It is only the measure. Currency is not solely monetary. Currency can be in the form of product, services, coinage or even promises of future action. Currency, in a negotiation, can be as illusive as good will.
Currency is what the negotiators decide it is and is unique to the negotiation at hand. In any negotiation, understanding the many dynamics of the currency at play is essential in the creation of value from the exchange. To negotiate properly one must consider all aspects of the situation and leverage those commodities to his or her advantage.
Properly done, the outcome will be far better than simply accepting the pig for three bags of potatoes.
The Economy - What to Do?
Talk about a negotiation! The major forces were at play to stem the current financial crisis. It cried for setting aside our political differences and seeking a cohesive, focused plan to stabilize the situation.
President Bush and Congress had to actually set aside their differences and work together to solve this situation. It required their foregoing power tactics to negotiate in good faith. Or did it?
Paulson's proposed plan was the focus of intense negotiations between the Administration and the Congress and, of course, both Parties. Unfortunately the situation was so desperate that the issues became diverted to add-on riders and special-interest amendments.
It appears that Congress ignored the interests of the American people and protected their pork barrel add-ons. Was this good negotiation? Of course it was. The Congress had the power to hold the Administration up to ransom and did so. BUT, the People of this great Country have seen how they acted and will not soon forget.
Congress may have won the battle but in so doing may have jeopardized their standing in the eyes of America.
Remember, when negotiating you may have several audiences. The misuse of power may win a victory but at what cost?
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.
Silence - A Negotiating Tactic
Silence can be used as a power tactic. If you resist the compulsion to fill every void with the sound of your voice you will be able to actually hear the other person and, more important, impact how they react to you.
If you studiously avoid filling the lapses in a conversation or discussion you will notice something interesting. Others will nervously try to fill the verbal void. It is these comments that provide interesting factoids and give you power.
Take a day to demonstrate this to yourself.
Spend the day not making small talk with anyone outside of your family. When you go to get you cup of coffee and pastry don’t respond verbally when the clerk asks how you are. They don’t really care. They are programmed to ask. Simply nod and observe how they react.
Typically if you answer, they have already looked away and are preparing to ask what you would like. If you don’t verbally respond they will likely hesitate and look at you intently waiting for a response.
They are actually seeing you for the first time; really looking. They will also likely be notching up their respect for you. The unknown or unpredictable is always note worthy. This simple change in the typical protocol of social interaction has elevated you with the power of mystery. Do this all day long and observe how differentially you are treated by clerks, peers and even your supervisors.
Your silence denotes confidence, control and focus. It can be very intimidating.
In a negotiation you can and should use silence the same way. When entering the room and everyone is shaking hands and discussing the weather try stand slightly apart and silent. When people greet you, simply nod. Take a seat while others are still standing and shuffle through your papers.
Note how the others begin to react to you. Typically your opponents will become more wary having taken note of your serious demeanor, your sense of purpose, and your self confidence. They may even try to reach out to you to break the silence.
You are having an impact on them. That is the genesis of informal leadership power.
Group Dynamics in Negotiations
People seldom act alone. Everyone has a group of associates or family members that need to be at the least informed of important decisions before a commitment is made. More often, prior approval is needed. This approval may be from a family member to keep the peace at home or from a corporate superior or oversight committee having the actual authority to bind the company.
When the group is involved in the negotiation process becomes much more challenging. The group has its own structure and objectives. Individual members of the group will typically have differing personal objectives and opinions. The negotiators challenge is to decipher the leaders in the group and the protagonists. Each will have to be dealt with to achieve an agreement that will survive the test of time.
The best way to find the decision makers or leaders within an opposing group is to discuss various aspects of the situation. Listening to each member's dialogue, content and, equally import, to whom they address their remarks no verbally. Look for glances or a change in their sitting position as an indication that they are watching how someone in their own group is reacting to their remarks. This differential habit will reveal where they stand on their team.
It is important to 'hear' the content and observe the delivery. A CFO can speak in deference to his CEO but the message can carry the import of the Board of Directors. Conversely, others speak to be heard and recognized by those in power. Differentiating those who want power and those who enjoy it will improve your ability to target the right person with whom to forge a consensus.
Group negotiations are most challenged when there are opposing views and power factions within the group. As an outsider and the 'opposition' it helps to ferret out such discord to decide if the group can reach an accord or if you are wasting your time and theirs.
When you run into a fractured opposing group dynamic you may be able to divide and conquer. But such power tactics have their limits:
• Pushing the primary negotiator to make a commitment contrary to the rest of his team may be successful during the meeting but fall apart as soon as the meeting ends and his or her associates speak up in private.
• Pressing too soon may cause the other team to postpone making any decision until they can agree among themselves thereby costing you the benefit of their fractionalization.
• Choosing the wrong negotiator to whom to play may back fire when the real power on the team emerges in opposition to the way you have lead the discussion.
The best advice when facing a dysfunctional team of negotiators is to go slow, increase your awareness of non-verbal signals and verbal intonations, and pace yourself not to be overcome by the varied and oblique affronts frequently used in group negotiations, and keep the discussion focused on where you want it to go. Don't let it become distracted or fragmented by allowing everyone on the other side to derail the process by talking just to be heard.
Strong negotiators must also be strong leaders. Controlling the content of the meeting and the direction of the discussion comes from the deft application of informal leadership skills. Sharpen these skills and you will improve your negotiating results.
Do personality traits affect negotiation skills?
There are four primary negotiating styles. They are similar to management styles or personalities.
We learn to negotiate from birth through our experiences, education, and from the people around us. From our first cries when hungry, the reactions of others reinforce our predominant negotiating behavior. We learn based on what we find works with others. We also learn that different approaches work on different people and, as a result, we develop additional styles.
Each is a blend of the four primary styles. Our predominant negotiating style is the manner in which we are most comfortable when interacting with others.
Consider how you act with other people; especially strangers in a stressful situation. You can probably identify your predominant negotiating style pretty accurately as long as you listen to what others think of your style at home or around the office. We constantly negotiate with them. Their perceptions are a mirror available to you if you are willing to look.
We also have a natural style. This is the style that emerges when we are physically threatened or under severe stress. My natural style is much less collaborative! Understanding your predominant and natural styles will help you will understand how you react with others. Now comes the difficult part.
One's predominant style is a learned style. That means we can learn and develop different styles.
Now comes the difficult part.
Each negotiating situation deserves its unique style. One does not negotiate the same way with his wife as he would a business adversary, boss, or even the children. There are differing power bases and interests to be considered and respected. A negotiator is most effective when able to deploy a complimentary negotiating style to each situation.
Effective negotiators are like chameleons. They adapt to each situation. The benefit of being comfortable with a number of negotiating styles is that the appropriate style can be strategically used at will. In any negotiation one might use several different styles depending on the reaction of the other person.
What happened to the Immigration Reform Bill?
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 better strategy to seek a solution that allows both parties to come away with terms that provide each enough incentive, positive or negative, to support and live up to any agreement that is reached. This mutual incentive is the basis of every relationship whether it is in a marriage, friendship, or business setting.
Of concern, though, is that such an equitable approach to some negotiations may result in too much compromising yielding too little progress toward the original negotiation objective.
This is where I think the Immigration Reform Bill ran aground.
The People of America wanted border security. For that, many were inclined to consider some form of expansive legislation addressing the current illegal immigrant problem. However, those in control, behind closed doors, became so focused on compromises pertaining to the current immigrant situation that they lost sight of the true goal of blocking illegal entry of future immigrants.
Add to that a latent distrust that the Government will really follow through on promises, and you have a broad-based constituency that rose up and cried "foul". They felt that the solution was worse than the original problem because they did not believe the border enforcement aspects of the bill would ever be fully implemented; only the prompt legalization of the existing illegal immigrants.
So the negotiators lost the faith of their principals, on both sides. They were so embroiled in the process that they lost sight of the forest for the trees.
What is troubling is that those behind the bill are the leaders of this country and in theory have been elected to their posts based on their ethics, competence, intellect and the commitment to represent those who voted them into office.
Negotiators must retain a sharp focus on the primary goal and not dilute that objective simply to solve the problem. Anyone can compromise to the point that a deal can be made. Negotiators must strategically use compromises to make progress towards their primary objective.
Choose to Improve
We approach many of our daily negotiations as mere nuisances to be mindlessly dispatched or avoided. Ironically this cavalier negotiating attitude is extended to those we love; our spouses, children, friends, family, and close associates. We tend to pay more attention to our interactions with those we don't know, retail clerks, teachers, students, clergy, bankers, police, dentists, doctors and the like, rather than those most important in our lives.
There is no reason not to try to ease the stress of the conflict in our personal lives as much as we do with perfect strangers.
It takes very little effort to improve how we deal with people; how we handle our every day negotiations. We do this by listening better. Honing our awareness of the interests and needs of others enables us to forge resolutions that are healing by design. Merging some of the needs of others into your solutions to daily problems will definitely reduce the negativism of unhealthy conflict.
It is your choice; your life. You are free to choose to be proactive and improve things. You can also simply contribute to the unhealthy conflict in your life and live with the consequences.
You are not helpless. You have choices.
The Power of Persuasion
If you want to win a negotiation you must expect to win. Attitude counts! Like any sport or other competitive venue, attitude has a direct bearing on the outcome of a negotiation.
Each negotiation, no matter how insignificant, by definition is based in conflict. The people involved are each competing to protect their respective rights by depriving another of his or her expectations. It is a negotiation over conflicting interests.
The secret of winning lies in the passion one brings to the event. If you are convinced that you are right, if you think you deserve to win, if you know that you are in the right, then your passion will color each argument, strengthen each statement, and lead you to victory. If you have doubts, you will be less than effective. Get rid of your doubts before getting involved.
Positive Attitude Tips:
Plan to win. When you are considering strategies and tactics before a meeting envision using each tactic and prevailing with it. This mental exercise sets in your mind the feeling or the gestalt of deploying the strategy or tactic successfully. When the time comes to actually use it, your actions will be more natural and more effective.
Expect to win. When setting your objectives and goal, test them against what you know to be reality. If they are reasonable expectations, visualize achieving the objective. Do this repeatedly to set the image in your mind that the objective and goal is achieved. Don’t focus on the process of achieving it during this mental exercise but on actually achieving it. This is a form of programming yourself to not only want the objective but feel entitled to it. You are aligning your inner being to expecting to walk in and win. You are empowering yourself to prevail.
Act like a winner. When you enter a room, stand tall, make direct eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and be confident in why you are there. Take the time to get comfortable at the table, lay out material you may need, then settle back, ready to begin. Your statements should be brief, pithy and authoritative. Concise, targeted proposals convey clarity of purpose and conviction on your part. As you deliver them, assume they will be accepted. The power of a positive delivery is immeasurable. If the other person has doubts about their position, it may show in their reaction. Be alert for signs of their doubt. If they question you proposal, ask them why. Never accept on face value an objection. If you are confident of your position, the other person should be placed on the defensive unless they can prove you wrong.
The power of persuasion is based in your personal conviction of being right and entitled to prevail.
Having Alternatives Improves Negotiating Results
When you come to a fork in the road you have two chances to make the right choice. Pick carefully.
Negotiating is very much like a trek through a jungle. You know where you are going but will encounter any number of obstacles that need to be negotiated to get back to your camp. Being proficient with your tools and having planned the journey will increase the odds of your making it through the jungle.
A negotiator does not have a compass, map or guide to assist him. But he does have similar tools and the opportunity to plan. Those who come to excel in the field invest in their trade craft and properly prepare before each encounter.
Planning for a negotiation requires proper knowledge and preparation. Facts are the basis of the map to the negotiation. Your ultimate goal is the compass heading you need to check and recheck as you proceed. Your co-negotiators and experts are your field team. Setting the plan is an essential step in the pre-negotiation process. Establishing a common goal for the team allows everyone to set their internal compasses and pursue the same objective.
Planning provides a chance to anticipate objections and prepare counter strategies. It is far better to be prepared than forced to react. Preparing and planning gives a negotiator alternative strategies and tactics to use in pursuit of his or her goal. Negotiations are conflict based. They are not intended to be easy. Being armed with alternatives improves one's chances of prevailing.
Anxiety is Normal in Negotiations
Sharks never show anxiety, as predators they sense it. Then they go for blood. Make sure you have plenty of deodorant when 'swimming with a shark'. Power negotiators train to be able to observe, detect and capitalize on the anxiety of their opponents.
It is natural to start any negotiation with some anxiety. Whether in a family setting or the business environment, conflict is not comfortable for most people and a negotiation is a step we take to resolve conflict. Conflict by nature is stressful. Anxiety comes from not being fully prepared or experienced in any endeavor. People are anxious on their first date, before speaking in front of others and when meeting the in-laws. Why should they not be anxious before starting a negotiation with strangers?
Mediators know the root of the anxiety is typically the fear of the unknown. That is why they start mediation sessions with clear, understandable instructions to the parties explaining how mediation is structured, what they can expect, and what the rules of engagement are. The mediator is working at removing the anxiety from the room and opening the way for productive discussions. A seasoned negotiator will take similar steps in a negotiation to set up an environment that is conducive to reaching an accord.
Negotiators can create anxiety as a tactic by introducing new facts, raising embarrassing questions and challenging assumptions to unsettle the other person. Creating doubt may help to bring a recalcitrant opponent back to the negotiating table by undercutting his confidence. It may also create a defensive atmosphere that is counter productive.
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.
Who is the Best Negotiator?
Who is the best negotiator?
There is no way to tell. One who wins is not always the best negotiator. If that person had absolute power, he did not need to negotiate effectively to prevail. If one lacks any power or the capacity to perform, then the best negotiating skills would be for naught.
The measure of the best negotiator lies in how well one does with what they have to negotiate with at that moment in time. But, if one knows he lacks the resources to negotiate effectively, then perhaps the best negotiator is one who knows when not to negotiate.
Negotiation is an art. Art is difficult to measure as everyone has a differing opinion of beauty. There are too many variables to create a proper scorecard.
Why, then, are some judged to be better negotiators than others? Typically a respected negotiator has demonstrated consistent, disciplined behavior that results in a series of perceived victories. No one but the person will really know how effective he has been during each session. But their mastery of the process and their persona at the negotiating table will create the image of a winner, and they will be considered to be one of the best negotiators others have encountered.
So then how can one become the "best" negotiator?
Being the best at anything means taking the time to learn the process and then execute each step diligently. It means investing the time and effort to properly research and prepare for each encounter. It means developing honed communication skills. It means building an arsenal of negotiating tactics and strategies to deploy when needed. It means firmly grasping the attitude that you will win before you sit down to negotiate. It means being willing to take control of the situation and lead others.
In short, it means working at being the best you can be.
Negotiating with Your Doctor or Lawyer
As a culture we have this image of professionals as mini-gods. We take their word to be sacrosanct. They know everything and they what is good for us. After all, they are professionals. We come to them in need and their role is to make us better.
We forget professionals such as doctors and lawyers are mere mortals. They have the same afflictions we have. They have stress at home that impacts their work performance. Some have drinking or drug problems. Some have marital problems. They can have faulty memories or they could have graduated at the bottom of their class. One thing is for sure. They know less about our problems than we do.
Basically they are pretty regular people just like you and me. The difference is the time they spent in school studying medicine, the law, plumbing, or electrical circuitry. So they may be better informed and more aware of the viable options you may need to fix your specific problem. Then again, they may not.
In the case of doctors, medical science is changing by the hour if not the minute. How would it be possible for one professional with a heavy case load to stay current with every new diagnostic technique or therapy that might help you? In all likelihood they can't. That is why specialization has become so rampant. The problem with specialists is that they know their specific area very well but little about you.
What is it then that makes professionals unapproachable? Why do we think that they are omnipotent when it comes to our situation? Why do we let them take on the responsibility of curing our problems and relinquish near total control of our destiny? Why don't we question or challenge their actions? Why don't we discuss the prognosis and solution?
Professionals are trained to take control of the situation and manage the process. They are also trained to remain objective. This training is remarkably similar to that of a mediator. It is process-based and designed to do the most good for the greatest number of people. Unfortunately, your situation is very personal to you. This is the information age and today a fantastic wealth of knowledge is available to the patient or client who wants to participate in the solution.
So just how does one negotiate with a mini-god?
Easy. You handle a professional's visit just as you would any other negotiation. You have a problem and they may have the solution.
• Prepare for the visit. You wouldn't simply walk into a real estate negotiation without first reviewing the basics. Determine why you are going to the professional and make a list of the issues.
• Gather additional, pertinent information. The professional handles thousands of cases. You are but one of many such cases that serve to pay for his Mercedes, his golf club membership and his three alimony payments. Do not forget that you are the customer.
• Don't be intimidated. When he makes his grand entrance, don't go into shock and forget everything. If he is in a hurry, ask him to slow down a bit. You can also pace the session by responding to his questions slowly and methodically. If he appears anxious to get to the next patient or client, ask him to focus.
• Be proactive in the problem solving and the solution.
• Don't be hesitant to ask "Why?". You are allowed to press if you feel he is missing something or if you don't like what is proposed.
• Agree on the terms. It is your right to clearly understand the situation so that you don't get home and worry why you are doing things. You deserve to be fully informed every step of the way.
You will be surprised at how well received your interest will be. In many ways, you will be helping by providing needed information. A true professional will welcome this help. A weak professional will resist your interference. You be the judge.
The bottom line is simple when dealing with professionals. Do not forget that you are the customer. You pay them for their time, attention and their skills. They may forget this aspect of the relationship as their egos become inflated but it does exist. Their time is no more important than yours is. They are not necessarily smarter than you or less forgetful. They have good days and bad days. You are one of many people they will see that day.
Your problem is very important to you and you are paying to have it properly addressed. It is 'OK' to be a bit demanding to the extent that you get the attention you have paid for when making the appointment. It is OK to negotiate 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.
Corporate Team Building in Negotiations
There are times when having a negotiating team is appropriate.
In corporate environments this is often the norm. You have the executive responsible for solving or managing the situation, the corporate counsel who may be involved or may enlist out-house counsel to litigate the matter, the staff insurance or risk manager, and the insurance carrier's representative. This core team may then add professionals or experts depending on the complexity of the matter. There may also be other corporate representatives involved.
In effect all corporate negotiations are team negotiations no matter who arrives at the settlement conference.
Like any other aspect of negotiations, teams need to be properly managed.
If you are heading up a corporate team, you are responsible for that team no matter to whom the individuals report. You are responsible for its preparation, research, and the role each member will play. This is especially important if there are 'professionals' on your team. Too often clients delegate the preparation and research aspects of a settlement conference to their legal staff. This would be fine if the issues were legal details. But when it comes to other issues and overall strategy, the responsibility should be vested solely with the lead negotiator.
You need to build your team based on the needs of the occasion and not the desires of political factions within the company. Representation at each meeting is not a requirement for each member of the team, especially if that individual proves disruptive to the settlement process. In establishing the team, make sure everyone knows their role, is prepared, and most importantly, that you have set the goals and objectives for the team.
If you are not used to working with the members of your corporate team, take steps to establish your role as team manager.
Corporate Team Building Tactics:
- Welcome them to the planning session and indicate your appreciation of what they can lend to the team.
- Source the pecking order of the individual team members and see if there are potentially conflicting internal goals and objectives to be resolved.
- Discuss with each new member of the team their role, qualifications, and specific areas of expertise.
- Ferret out areas where the other team members appear to not agree fully with you. Monitor closely the non-verbal reactions to the discussions to note any unvoiced discord. You want your team to be focused and mutually supportive.
- Collectively establish the goal of the team and the negotiating parameters.
- Prior to each formal negotiating or settlement session meet with the team doing the negotiating and establish the goals and objectives of the day's discussions.
- Decide prior to meeting with the other side if you want to reveal your leadership role during the meeting or let someone else lead the dialogue. There are times when it is beneficial to use a straw man while you observe the interaction of the other team.
Negotiating teams are no different than other teams. They need good leadership. They need direction. And they need to be managed so they function efficiently and constructively.
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.
People Skills and Negotiations
Managing any group of people or even another person requires well-honed people skills. Managing the people involved in a negotiation requires exceptional ability to influence and motivate others.
As all human interaction is a form of conflict resolution, enhancing your people skills is a sure way to improve your ability to negotiate successfully.
To manage people you have to first understand them. Negotiators are people and people are individuals. To reach them through a debate of the issues it is best to present your case in terms they understand and with which they are comfortable. The time spent informally talking before a negotiating session serves the purpose of providing insights into how you might phrase your arguments. Researching the other person before the meeting may also provide information on his or her background, professional and scholastic. Talking to associates who know the person is another way to develop a dialogue strategy.
Develop a style that allows you to be assertive and not aggressive in your communication with the other person. The "3-Rs" to accomplish this are: Rehearse, Repeat, and Request feedback. To lead an informal group you must assert yourself. Being assertive does not also mean being demanding, rude and egotistical. Being assertive is a management style to enable you to control the actions of the group. In a negotiating setting, this needs to be very subtle. The 3-Rs approach is an effective way of taking control without grasping it from the other person.
The process of preparing children for life is a complicated mix of coaching, demanding, directing, disciplining, dreaming, educating, encouraging, entrusting, informing, loving, mediating, negotiating, nurturing, philosophizing, training and trusting. Unlike most management situations, it is unique in that neither party has the option to quit without devastating consequences. There are some well-known parenting situations that can help managers understand and improve their management behavior.
Parents, like all people, react when challenged. This reaction is not the best of management styles, even for parents. Among other common mistakes, parents are apt to resist allowing their child to grow and assume additional responsibility as fast as the child would like. Parents tend to thwart blatant independence at a young age by saying "No!". Unfortunately "no" creates frustration rather than redirecting activity. In a negotiation "no" has a similar impact on the atmosphere between the negotiators. It can be frustrating to the point of distraction. If your intention is not to stop the dialogue in its tracks, be judicious using the word.
Parents also tend to concede too soon and then spend the night worrying if it was the right decision, often with good reason. Negotiators who preempt the other person by negotiating against their own proposal often wish they had just been patient. Cognitive dissonance is often referred to as buyers remorse. After a negotiation you do not want the other side thinking they gave away too much. You want to make sure you have reinforced their decisions as being well made and in their best interest. By building up their egos you are cementing the deal so it will stand the test of time.
Managing others is a design on your part to influence how they will act or respond. Before getting them to act, you have to first impact how they think. Few people can be persuaded to change how they think through a verbal debate. Bring data sheets, diagrams, experts, and other tangible support for your arguments to help educate, inform and influence the other person. Remember also that attitude and setting can influence the other person's mood. Take the initiative to make the initial few moments of any meeting positive and upbeat. Make it a personal challenge to get the other person to smile at least once before sitting down to start the formal dialogue.
To create change in another person, you need to make them uncomfortable and then lead them toward a comfortable resolution. One technique used is to change the topic abruptly to throw the other person off balance. This is especially useful when the discussion is heading into 'troubled waters' for you. Use any transitional thread to shift away from the sensitive area. Most people do not want to be rude and openly object. And example of how this might be done is to interject an observation about how difficult it is to work with city planners when an aspect of the lease negotiations is going against you. There are few people involved in developing commercial properties who won't readily vent about past problems with planners or planning commissions. Use the diversion as a chance to mentally regroup and find a way around problems the other discussion presented.
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.
Problem Solving Skills and Negotiation
No one can negotiate until they understand the situation. Basically there is a problem to be solved that involves getting two or more people to agree on something. Basic problem solving is part of the skill set of any effect negotiator.
Defining a problem is critical. Often people fight over ancillary issues rather than the real problem. In a mediation the mediator takes the time to source, identify and quantify all the micro issues that create the underpinnings of the primary argument. Mediators are trained to resolve the ancillary issues so that the primary problem can be resolved.
Problem Identification Tips:
- Don't accept the obvious; seek out underlying issues or other problems. Often the other person or the parties may be unaware of the impact of these 'lesser' issues.
- Prioritize the issues and seek to resolve the minor ones first. This will create a more positive environment and may help lead to a global agreement.
- Seek to put emotional reactions in perspective. If you can diffuse any prevailing anger or distrust, you will have made a major advance toward reaching an agreement.
- Separate the "wants" from the "needs" and focus on satisfying the "needs" of each party. Often it is the "wants" that create the most separation. And they are the least important aspect of the problem once they are properly identified as "wants".
- Don't ignore or dismiss emotional needs or wants. Sometimes their satisfaction is more important to one of the parties than the monetary aspects of the situation.
Problem identification does not stop when you enter the fray. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying to identify additional irritants or issues. Listen for clues on how to satisfy a specific need using alternative consideration.
Problem solving is the meat of dispute resolution. By expanding the possible settlement options the mediator is seeking to solve the dispute by pairing unlikely party commodities so that both emerge feeling a sense of victory. Win/Win negotiating is not so much about appeasing both sides as it is about pairing needs and satisfiers so that both parties come away with more than they gave away in their minds.
Is an Enemy Required in a Negotiation?
In the September 17, 2005 edition of the Epoch Times there is an article about Sino-U.S. relations, the Storm Clouds That Cancelled the Sino-U.S. Summit Were Not from Katrina, by He Qinglian. In that article he explains the need for an adversarial relationship between the U.S. and China. "China's ever-growing military power requires that China have an "enemy" so that the military can greatly enhance its political status and increase its budget."
The Chinese government appears to need to make an enemy of the U.S. to keep control of its population. In normal life we tend to make our opponents our enemies. This is usually not the case. They just want something different than we do. Like the opportunity to make a profit or to win a point. An enemy is out to do you physical or fiscal harm. In most business negotiations that is not the intent of the parties. Divorce settlements may be different. The parties want to do damage!
It is not always productive to view your opponent as an enemy. One makes enemies and friends through their actions. Both your enemies and friends will talk behind your back. Realize just as you seek background information on others before a meeting, they will likely do the same. If the feedback they get about you is too adverse, you may never be able to have an open, productive dialogue.
Dangers of being viewed as an Enemy:
-You may be prejudged.
-You may lose opportunities if viewed as an enemy or staunch adversary.
-You may have to overcome fear and hostility from a perfect stranger.
-It will take twice the effort to convert that enemy to be a friendly associate.
He Qinglian goes on to say, "A short while ago, General Zhu Chenghu announced the intention of using nuclear weapons against the U.S. The explanation offered by the Chinese government, that Zhu's speech only expressed his own personal opinions and does not represent the Chinese military, is not convincing. Looking at the changes in the relationship between the two countries, whether a state of military neutrality will last depends on whether or not the Chinese civil system is strong enough to manage the military."
Beware of letting your prejudice block your ability to negotiate. Yes, you have to watch your enemies to see the strike coming before it hits; forewarned is forearmed. Don't let an impression of your enemy hinder communications. Through a dialogue you may find he is not the enemy but a potential ally.
Collective Dreaming - How to Win in Negotiations
Empires are built on dreams. Olympic champions start by dreaming of winning their next match in middle school. In last season's closing episode of ABC's television series Lost, Locke shared the spirituality of why he has been placed on an island in the South Pacific that has healed his legs. Jack, his protagonist in the series, is limited to caring for the others and hoping to be rescued.
Locke is much more likely to sleep peaceably dreaming of something more than just surviving each night while Jack lies awake wondering what the next challenge will be that he will have to overcome.
According to Peter Drucker, successful companies such as Harley-Davidson and Starbucks work because they are selling a lifestyle or an image rather than simply a product. Successful companies offer more than a commodity. They create a collective dream-need through marketing that only their product or experience will satisfy.
No one enters a negotiation without an expectation of the outcome. Nor should they. Their expected outcome is their dream. To achieve that dream, they must find a way to make it the other person's "dream" as well.
Most focus on their individual needs and wants without caring about the other person's needs. To excel at negotiating, the strategy of collective dreaming is required. Collective dreaming is the process of getting everyone involved in the discussion and then having the group envision the same objective. That is, getting all concerned to want to achieve that objective albeit for differing reasons. Then they are more apt to work together to make it happen.
To do this a negotiator needs to look beyond his or her interests and conjure the ultimate outcome of the negotiation if successful for the group. Then, acting as an informal leader, he or she must present that dream to the entire group demonstrating how, if achieved, it benefits everyone.
It does not cost anything to consider another person's needs or perspective. In the coming season of Lost it will be interesting to see whether Locke or Jack prevail in creating a common goal for the survivors.
When to Use Power
"The use of force is the last option for any president. ... You know we have used force in the recent past to secure our country." -- --U.S. President George W. Bush, on the possible use of military force against Iran.
Power is a constant in all negotiations. Understanding the dynamics of power in conflict settings is essential to mastering its potential. Skilled poker players know that for a bluff to be effective you must first establish yourself as being a competent player with a tendancy to back up your bets with good hands. The public remarks made by President Bush certainly deliver that message loud and clear. As he has done in Afganistan and Iraq, he has used our military when negotiations fail. By rattling his saber, President Bush is pressing Iran to soften their resolute posture before he is forced to act. This does not mean he wants to act. Only that he might act and is not afraid to do so.
Power can complicate negotiations. Viable deals are often missed because one side assumes the other will not negotiate or will take undue advantage of their strength. This false assumption can result in an acceptable offer never being tendered. In fact, were a proposal made, there is always a chance that it could lead to a satisfactory result.
Everyone has power in a negotiation if they have the ability to walk away from the "table". A powerful person or company does not always hold all the cards. No matter your net worth, company size or investment in the situation, if you can get up and walk away, you have a degree of power. You have the power, and it is absolute, to say "No!".
In today's world, every nation appears to be vying for their own power base to remain significant on the national stage. Iran and North Korea are using the threat of obtaining nulclear status to grab the center stage while the rest of the world is trying to diminish the nulclear threat. America is very aware of the growing threat and is putting them on notice. We may just have to use the power we have to thwart their efforts as we have done in the past. His statements are to be taken seriously as he has the track record of doing what he says he is going to do. Saddam did not listen or believe. Hopefully others will.