Negotiating Requires Knowing Your Bottom Line

A key strategy in any negotiation is establishing your 'bottom line.' Knowing your "bottom line" is one of the most important aspects of being a good negotiator. The bottom line is the minimum or maximum acceptable threshold that you will accept concerning a given situation. It is the point at which you should decide not to continue to try to hold things together and simply walk away from the opportunity.

Constantly revising is part of a negotiator's strategy because negotiating requires knowing your bottom line or the limits you are willing to go to win an argument or closing a sale or purchase. Your "bottom line" depends on each negotiating event and can change as your situation changes. Typically in the business environment the negotiating parameters are mandated by company objectives, limitations and policy. Working within these guidelines allows company negotiators to negotiate with confidence that they will be able to deliver on the promises they make during a negotiation. Knowing these corporate bottom line parameters also signals when the negotiator should leave the discussion to seek more guidance or look for another opportunity for the company. Thus knowing the company parameters empowers the company negotiator.
Persuasion Techniques
We are used to setting minimum or maximum parameters in the business or professional environment. In personal situations negotiating requires knowing your bottom line or the limits you are willing to go to win an argument. There is no reason the same discipline cannot and should not apply to interpersonal/family situations.

When you are negotiating personal matters ranging from credit card debt to what to do about an errant son or daughter you should try to set the point at which you are no longer willing to negotiate. This is especially important on the personal side as conceding too much only teaches your spouse or child that you will continue to do so and that he or she should continue to press their argument until you cave. This conceding on your part rewards bad behavior rather than deters it.

If you continually do this when disciplining a child you will raise a spoiled child who, later in life, may well have difficulties relating to his or her spouse when the 'adult child' doesn't get his or her way. As parents it is our responsibility to teach our children how to negotiate in a productive fashion so they can get along after they leave the nest.
It is even more important when dealing with an overbearing spouse. Your concessions will not only make the other person expect to prevail, it will cause you to lose respect for yourself and become even more dependent on what could become a damaging relationship.
Not to belabor the point but I need to point out here that I am not advocating never conceding. Just the opposite as we all need to be willing to 'give and take' to make any relationship work. What I am saying is that it is helpful to know in advance at what point we will no longer be willing to offer further concessions. To make this point graphically, a woman must draw the line at being physically abused. To let this type of behavior occur without recourse is simply asking for a bad outcome.

Negotiating requires knowing your bottom line or the limits you are willing to go to win an argument or closing a sale or purchase. When you approach your predetermined bottom line, the point where it's appropriate to be willing to bluff before walking away, you have two choices; bluffing or walking away. Depending on the potential impact on the relationship and how much you value the relationship, bluffing should only be considered as a last resort tactic. It should be reserved until all you have at risk is failure itself and you are fully prepared to walk away from the relationship as well as the situation because if you are caught in a bluff your credibility, integrity or sincerity will be damaged.

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Trader or Negotiator

What are you, a trader or a negotiator? Is there a difference?

Trading is the exchanging of comparably valued items, not negotiating. To trade is the exchange of commodities, assets or services on a par value. Negotiating contemplates the exchange of disproportionately valued commodities.

2_hands_holding_up_cash.jpgTraders focus on the intrinsic cost basis. Negotiators look to minimize cost or maximize their return. There are times when it may be better to trade then negotiate. Consider these examples.

Power or control over a situation often makes a transaction a simple trade. The person with the power establishes the rules and the rate of return. Those who find the terms acceptable participate. If not, they will seek another venue.

four_hands_holding_up_cash.jpg Limited availability of a commodity also creates a demand driven market. Sellers who hold such a commodity have the power to demand a high rate of return. Buyers who must have the commodity, oil comes to mind, have little choice but to pay the high rate while they develop alternative sources.

Hospitals and doctors enjoy another hedge against having to negotiate with you. Because you have insurance, you are not paying the bill (other than a small co-payment). That means you have little control over what is paid for the service rendered. More important, the provider has little incentive to negotiate with you or remain competitive. Bag_of_groceries.jpg And the insurance company has little incentive to negotiate a unique rate for you as they spread their risk over all the people they are covering.

Simple trading is also appropriate in many situations where time and convenience are more important than price. At the grocery, for example, you simply exchange money for a loaf of bread. There is no negotiation because you are too busy to try and the amount you might save is negligible. But no one says you could not negotiate with the manager if you wanted to do so. In fact, if you are contemplating a very large purchase for a party or office event there is absolutely no reason not to contact the manager, explain the situation, and inquire about wholesale pricing or other possible discounts he or she might offer to avoid risking that you might go to a competitor.

To answer the question, are you a trader or negotiator, the answer is 'both' depending on the situation, your time, and the balance of power.

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Solve Negotiation Problems By Focusing on the Details

Negotiation is far more than simply sitting at the table and exchanging proposals. It is the process of working through various phases while you learn enough about the other person to be able to engage in a dialogue that advances your cause.

The basic phases or steps leading up to any negotiation include:

• Identification of the problem.
Persuasion Techniques
• Researching the issues.

• Researching the participants.

• Preparing for the negotiation.

• Separating facts from assumptions.

• Meeting the participants.

• Validating your facts.
• Adjusting your strategies.

• Testing your assumptions.

• Re-Adjusting your strategies (this is an ongoing activity).

• Establishing the parameters of the situation.

• Taking a break to reflect or regroup, if necessary.

• Making or soliciting the initial offer.

Each step deserves to be considered before it is undertaken. A negotiator should prepare, plan, and execute on the sub-task level to maximize the potential from every step of the process. Too many people approach negotiations from the end result, their objective, rather than focus on the steps of the process. This linear thinking results in loss of opportunities.

The skill of a negotiator is in the preparation and the art is in the execution.

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Who Negotiates

We all negotiate. We are often afraid whenever we have to sit down and work something out with another person because of our fears: Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of losing. Fear of offending. From birth we face a steady stream of challenges, struggles, and opportunities throughout life.

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Conflict arises as we struggle to satisfy our personal interests and wants and needs in social circles, at school, at work, and with our mates and loved ones. Who negotiates? We each do to get what we need or want. This self-serving effort is often in conflict with the needs and wants of others. The need to negotiate in our day-to-day situations or encounters permeates our very existence. Learning how to better handle such conflict is an important way to improve our personal situation. It leads to enabling us to enjoy life a lot more.

Knowing how to negotiate is less about understanding the nuances of the process than it is about understanding who negotiates, mere people do. Accordingly we should appreciate that everyone has their own wants and needs.three-people-closing-agreement-sm.jpg If we simply listen and try to identify their needs we may find building relationships to be easier and more rewarding than if we only think of our own needs and wants.

Life is a continuum of challenges, opportunities and decisions. Each experience in life, no matter how rudimentary, requires some form of negotiation and provides experience from which we can learn. In fact, if we only learn how to recognize the cues and how to act on them, we all have the opportunity to become experienced negotiators better able to handle life's challenges.

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How to Negotiate A Salary

Salary discussions are more often feared than not. The problem with many salary negotiations is that the employee is often placed at odds with his employer. If the employee presses too hard, he or she may worry that they will lose favor and maybe even harm their career potential. If they don't press hard enough and fail to get a reasonable increase they may feel that they are being taken advantage of and loss their positive attitude.

What many employees fail to realize is that most employers wrestle with how to attract and keep good people. Naturally they want to contained employee costs but good employees are hard to find and harder to replace. There is a very real cost of losing a good employee.

So both the employee and employer have a common goal. That is, how to keep a good employee motivated while keeping costs reasonable for the company. The core issue is not over the amount of the salary but the value received for the salary paid. This is often missed in salary negotiations.

To maximize your earning potential consider these tips on how to negotiate a salary:

Establish Your Value
In order to warrant consideration for a significant raise you need to establish why you deserve to be treated differently from your peers. Value to a company comes from the work you are doing, the cost of training your replacement, and the potential value you have to offer to the company. Start your conversation with your boss off on the right foot by clearly establishing that you hope to build your career with the company. That means you are willing to invest years of your career life with the company if they are willing to similarly invest in you. By establish the fact that you think you have far more to offer than what your current job entails you are establishing the potential value you have as a loyal and happy employee.

Throw a Curve
Your boss will be expecting you to ask for a dollar-based raise. Instead ask him how else you might be used in the company or department that would be good for your career and the company. Indicate that you have more potential than the current position requires and want to contribute more. This will often throw your boss off as he or she now has to think outside the anticipated and prepared topics.

You can further this strategy by bringing a self-evaluation to the meeting and discussing your strengths and weaknesses openly. Highlighting those qualities that warrant the company investing in you with some career planning changes the discussion from what to pay you to how to utilize your potential. By discussing your potential and the self-evaluation you are providing the reasons for your boss to handle you differently from others in your pay grade.

Offer Some Alternatives
Salary is important but it is only thing the company can do for you. Many times a company simply can't meet your salary demands immediately. But there are other benefits that may be more valuable to you than a simple pay increase. Getting placed in a fast-track program to advance has strong future value. Assistance in getting an advanced degree also enhances your future earning potential. Even moving into a high pay-grade position but at the same pay rate while you get established in the new position enhances your future salary potential.

Don't forget about upgrades in medical coverage, dental coverage, 401k matching contributions, stock options, a company car, laptop or notebook, tuition assistance, day care assistance and company cellular phones may add tangible value to you. These perks may allow the company to add to your compensation without exceeding their mandated pay range for the position you hold and many of these perks are not taxed further enhancing their value to you.

when to negotiate a raise
Don't Limit Your Options
Your job will consume at least 30% of your waking hours. You need to like the job, your peers, your boss and feel that you are being paid for the service you are providing. To make sure you are making the right career decisions you should always be open to opportunities outside the company. If other companies or departments want you, your boss will value you more. Don't be afraid to look around.

Life is short. Make sure your work contributes to a full life and does not detract. When you are meeting with your boss take the opportunity to discuss potential growth and what he or she sees in their crystal ball for you over the long term. This not only focuses your boss on the value you have to offer but on what they see for the company of which they are a part. By opening this perspective you are becoming part of the team rather than just another employee trying to get more for doing the same old thing.

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What is Negotiating

Negotiating is the process by which two or more people get along in a social, competitive environment. Competitive in that two people typically have differing wants and needs and must figure out how to work together to get along. Negotiating is an integral part to any relationship. It may be personal, social, professional or simply a chance meeting on the street.

Unlike bartering, arbitrating or mediation negotiation is the collective process that impacts us in every aspect of our lives. It is not limited to the business or legal aspects of our lives. Negotiation is the base process of people interacting with one another. Bartering, arbitrating and mediation are civilized attempts to refine the negotiating process into a disciplined process.

To answer the question what is negotiating we need to understand better what it is get along with our fellow negotiators; other human beings that happen to cross our paths for one reason or another.


It is very human to want something someone else has. How we get it, or attempt to do so, is how we implement our style of negotiating. We can be subtle, caring about the other person's interest, wants and needs, or we can be self-centered, focused solely on our needs and abusive in the process.

What is negotiating? When two people meet and begin to get to know each other, they start establishing how they will negotiate in the future. In essence, they are establishing how they will negotiate important things by laying down simply rules of etiquette. They learn each other's mannerisms, inflections, how they speak, what they are like. All these personal characteristics begin to build a mental profile that will help them understand each other in future conversations. Negotiating is built on the premise that two people can communicate effectively to work out a disagreement or problem. To communicate effectively we need to understand the nuances of nonverbal communications. Learn to Communicate

What is negotiating? Negotiating is the exchange of unlike currencies in a fashion that motivates both parties to honor the agreement. In this case currency can include tangible and intangible commodities. The age old exchange is sex for money. In the 21st Century it could easily be sex for power (or association with power). The currency of a negotiation may be wealth, recognition, sex, a diaper change or simply peace from a crying child or whining peer. We are trying to improve or avoid some aspect of our lives. It is a composite of needs or wants that drive any negotiation. Especially when someone else has what we want! The Currency of Negotiations

What is negotiating? The goal of negotiating is to improve your position as the result of the process. It is not simply getting to 'yes', 'no' or any solution. The solution is the product of an effective negotiation; not the goal. Being Right Isn;t Winning

The basic answer to what is negotiating is that it is effective communications between two or more people that result in all involved feeling that they have improved their situation to the extent that they will honor the agreement in the future. This does not mean that both have to win or feel like winners. It can also mean that the person who fell short of attaining his wants at least satisfied his base needs from the interaction. Sometimes losing less is better than losing everything.

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How to Make Up After a Fight

Just how bad was the fight? Do you have any idea what you said in the heat of the moment? Knowing how to make up after a fight is an important part of arguing. Relationships are precious things in life. Knowing how to fight and make up is an important aspect of keeping the relationship healthy.

Making up can be easy or hard. A lot of what makes it hard is trying to undo what was said when you were both really mad. Like it or not, those comments have a habit of being remembered. They hurt. At the time you meant them to hurt but now you can't imagine ever saying them.

Everyone negotiates. It is part of socializing, working, marriage, virtually all aspects of our lives. But some negotiations are more important than others such as those with a friend, spouse, parent or child.

Arguing on a social or personal level impacts our personal lives beyond the immediate debate. The same applies to how we handle negotiations in the workplace or school. We should be aware of the potential of the lasting damage that can be caused by what we do or say when arguing which is just a form of power negotiations.

To ensure you will be able to make up after the fight there are some things you should avoid when negotiating.

Don't Antagonize
If you want to get someone to do something they don't want to do, does it make sense to irritate or antagonize them when negotiating the matter? Unless you have a strong power advantage over the other person or maximum leverage, it is better to seek their support rather than use ridicule or anger to force the issue. This is especially true when the relationship with the other person is expected to survive the immediate situation.

Don't Bluff
Bluffing carries significant risk. As poker players know, if you are repeatedly caught bluffing your effectiveness will be undermined and you will be left with the reputation of being a liar or at least less than fully truthful. Bluffing can be perceived as a pattern of lying and you run the risk eroding trust with those you care about. Loss of trust is very damaging to any relationship.

Don't Corner
No one likes to feel helpless. Avoid forcing someone into a corner when negotiating or in an argument. You are asking them to strike out, hit back or otherwise hurt you to get out of the 'corner'. Even if they acquiesce at the time and let you have their way, they will harbor resentment at being forced to do what you want. if you continually corner someone their resentment overtime until they find a way to sever the relationship.

Don't Win the Battle and Risk Losing the War
It is fun to win. Most of us are programmed to do so. The problem arises is when we seek to always win and let our passion for winning damage the relationships we value. It is important to maintain your perspective when discussions get heated and pick the right arguments to fight, much less win.

Some arguments are meant to be lost strategically to preserve relationships. Make sure the issue causing the argument is worth winning. The best way to do this is to assess what you will gain by winning and what the other person will lose. Avoid those situations where the other person will damage to his or her ego over something trivial to you.
Be sensitive to the needs of the other person by keeping your perspective about the big picture, the relationship, as compared to the immediate situation.

Don't Forget to Mend Fences
Everyone loves a winner; few like braggarts. Avoid inadvertently abusing the other person when you prevail. When you come out on top take the time to shore up the relationship with the other person. Whether it is a spouse, child, parent, friend, boss or business associate, you seldom want to jeopardize a relationship by not taking a little time to ease the other person's pain of losing.

This investment in the relationship will pay dividends down the road and makes making up much easier.

What is Negotiating - Six Basic Negotiating Tips

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

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

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

Persuasion Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What to Avoid When 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:

1. Persuasion
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.

2. Compromising
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.

3. Trust
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?

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Divorce Settlement Agreement

Knowing how to negotiate a divorce settlement agreement is as much about handling your emotions as it is about negotiating an equitable settlement.

This has got to be a difficult negotiation. From the start those involved are unhappy with each other or at least less than motivated to accommodate the other person. Moreover communications have likely reached a low and tempers are likely to flare at the slightest provocation.

That said, there are important issues to be negotiated and resolved so everyone can move on to the next phase in their lives. If there are children involved their interests really should be considered as a priority.

You and your spouse will need to tackle this problem together. It may not be something that the two of you should take on without the help of professionals. No matter how you decide to approach the task, to handle the situation properly you should follow these steps to be prepared.

A divorce settlement need only be a problem if you are not ready:

• Clear Your Head - Find a way to leave the reasons for the divorce at the 'door' and be civil.
• Practice Effective Communications - Allow your spouse to speak and listen to what she is saying. When you speak, make sure you are not using inflammatory language and observe your spouse to insure you are being understood.
• Don't React - Negotiating is about the best offense, not a good defense. Don't lose control of the discussions by being drawn into another argument or emotional spat.
• Mitigate Your Losses - In a divorce there are no winners. Both parties are losing a lot. What you are trying to do is salvage what you can from a bad situation. This is an excellent time to embrace compromise and seek to mitigate your losses. It is not time to be seeking revenge.
• Prepare - Agree on the issues to be negotiated and make sure both parties know what information and documents will be needed to properly address each item. Don't forget to consider addressing future expenses such as college tuition for the children, retirement planning, health insurance coverage, and all the costs of keeping the house. It is frustrating to have to reschedule a meeting because someone forgot to bring a key piece of paper.

Do you need an attorney for a settlement conference? Not necessarily. If things are relatively civil between you and your spouse you may be able to do it yourselves or with an impartial observer. To this end you might consider a member of the clergy, a professional mediator, or a mutual friend.

How to Negotiate a House Price

Unless you are a real estate investor or developer, there are few personal items that will cost as much as the home you buy for your family. Your home represents far more than just an investment. It will become your castle, your nest, your family's home base. The point is that when you negotiate a house price you may or may not be the best person to do so because there are emotional issues that may hinder your ability to negotiate effectively. An example might be the pressures of a spouse who really, really, really wants the house.

Buying a house comprises two diametrically opposed issues. One is location and configuration. These are personal issues that are based on your preferences, proclivities, and desires. They are emotive and philosophical by nature. The other is financial. It is based in hard numbers and facts. One reason real estate brokers can be of value is that they can take on the negotiating aspect of the transaction leaving the personal issues to you. It is up to you to find and select a home that meets your personal criteria. It is also your responsibility to manage how the broker handles the financial negotiations.

Just because you delegate the financial aspect of the acquisition does not mean you relinquish control. To manage the broker's efforts on your behalf when negotiating a house price you will need to provide him direction.

Brokers are not acquiring the house. They are not paying the mortgage. They are looking to make money on the deal as efficiently as possible. You can help them achieve their goal by clearly giving them direction about your expectations from them while they act as your agent.

1. Determine how much you can afford to pay in terms of down payment, monthly payments and total price. Then tell the broker not to waste your time with anything more than 15% over the maximum you know you can comfortably afford. You can likely get the asking price down a bit but there are always hidden costs that creep into the picture so a little buffer is always nice to have.

Brokers frequently try to get you to stretch. You need only be firm. Your time is valuable and if you have set your budget accurately, there is little reason to look at anything that is out of reasonable reach. Do not let the broker tell you not to worry about the price just find what you want. He or she is trying to draw your emotive side into the equation hoping to get you to stretch a bit. This is not servicing your needs. Brokers should be directed to do what you ask not what they think might be best.

2. Determine the requirements you need in terms of size, number of rooms, lot configuration, distance from work, and whatever other criteria is important to you. Tell the broker these are your requirements and that you do not expect him to bring in properties that deviate substantially from your criteria. If you are looking for a three bedroom house and the broker continually presents you the perfect five bedroom homes you are working with the wrong broker as he is wasting your time as well as his own.
3. Make sure the broker is showing you all available properties that meet your needs not just the listings from his company. Too often brokers try to maximize their commissions by only sharing their listings. You need a broker who will try to service you fully regardless of his or her commission.

4. Some brokers represent both parties. This is known as dual agency. By law they need to tell you if they are representing both parties. If so, realize that your broker is legally obligated to fairly represent the seller as well as you. This is not an optimal situation if you are going to rely on the broker to negotiate the best possible deal for you. In such a case you can refuse to approve a dual agency listing asking the broker to find you or the buyer another broker or you can assume the negotiations yourself.

5. Set the price you are prepared to offer. Depending on the broker's role you will want to establish the maximum you want to pay and the minimum you should offer. Do not let the broker recommend a high initial offer to not offend the seller. Brokers traditionally try to narrow the gap quickly to get a deal made before losing the opportunity. You should be more interested in negotiating the best possible deal. The seller, just like you, wants to see a deal made and is not likely to get too upset with a modest offer. Just keep it reasonable from your perspective based on comparable sales which the broker should provide you and the economic climate.
6. Ready to negotiate? When you are ready to make an offer and start negotiations you should provide your broker with specific guidelines that he can work within without your prior consent. I recommend that you:

• require the broker to discuss any offer with you before it is tendered;
• obligate the broker never to intimate to the seller what you might be willing to do;
• thoroughly debrief the broker as to how the seller reacted when presented with an offer; and,
• require all offers and counter-offers to be in writing.

I actually prefer you be in the room so you can assess the reaction personally but sometimes this is not possible. The reason is that the reaction goes a long ways towards guiding your next response. When the broker, any broker, relays what happened they will, consciously or not, bias their report to you. It is like the old 'telephone' game. A phrase is repeated through several people and changes with each restatement.

Negotiating: What to Avoid When Negotiating

Everyone negotiates. It is part of socializing, working, marriage, virtually all aspects of our lives. But some negotiations are more important than others such as those with a spouse, boss or the armed robber you are facing down over the barrel of a gun.

Negotiating on a social or personal level impacts our personal lives beyond the immediate debate. The same applies to how we handle negotiations in the workplace or school. We should be aware of the potential collateral damage that can be caused by what we do or say when negotiating.

There are some things you should avoid when negotiating.

Don't Antagonize

If you want to get someone to do something they don't want to do, does it make sense to irritate or antagonize them when negotiating the matter? Unless you have a strong power advantage over the other person or maximum leverage, it is better to seek their support rather than use ridicule or anger to force the issue. This is especially true when the relationship with the other person is expected to survive the immediate situation.

Don't Bluff
Persuasion Techniques
Bluffing carries significant risk. As poker players know, if you are repeatedly caught bluffing your effectiveness will be undermined and you will be left with bartering as your primary negotiating tool. This is a one-dimensional tactic and not one that will add value to what you are exchanging.

Also, avoid bluffing when negotiating with a friend or family member. If you frequently get caught bluffing by a friend or family member, it can be perceived as a pattern of lying and you run the risk eroding trust with those you care about. Lose of trust is very damaging to any relationship.

Don't Corner

No one likes to feel helpless. Avoid when negotiating forcing someone into a corner. You are asking them to strike out, hit back or otherwise hurt you by cornering them. Even if they acquiesce at the time, they will harbor resentment at being forced to do what you want. This resentment will build overtime if you continually corner someone their resentment will likely build until they find a way to sever the relationship.

Don't Win the Battle and Risk Losing the War

It is fun to win. Most of us are programmed to do so. The problem arises is when we seek to always win and let our passion for winning damage the relationships we value. It is important to maintain your perspective when discussions get heated and pick the right battles to fight, much less win.

Some battles are meant to be lost strategically to allow wars to be won. Make sure the battle you are fighting is worth winning. The best way to do this is to assess what you will gain by winning and what the other person will lose. Avoid when negotiating battles where the losses of the other person will be significant, including damage to his or her ego, and your winnings trivial. These may be skirmishes that make sense to concede to preserve a valuable relationship.

Keep your perspective about the big picture, the relationship, as compared to the immediate situation. You may lose big by winning!

Don't Forget to Mend Fences

Everyone loves a winner; few like braggarts. Avoid inadvertently abusing the loser when you prevail. When you come out on top take the time to shore up the relationship with the other person. Whether it is a spouse, child, parent, friend, boss or business associate, you seldom want to jeopardize a relationship by not taking a little time to ease the other person's pain of losing.

This investment in the relationship will pay dividends down the road.

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How to Negotiate a Salary for a New Job

Asking a boss for a raise is typically very stressful. It need not be. Asking a potential boss for a salary higher than he or she is offering can be even more trying if you really need that job. Winning a negotiation over a starting salary does not mean the loser must feel that he or she has lost. The art in negotiating is the creation of mutual value. The true objective is an agreement in which both parties have a vested interest.

Here's how to negotiate a salary for a new job like a pro.

Establish the Offer Parameters

Once compensation discussions start the first thing to do is to see what the company is offering in terms of salary, benefits and other compensation. This will give you a complete picture of the potential offer. If there are additional items you expected to see in an offer package you can always ask if they were overlooked. At this point you are just compiling data. Depending on the job, the information may be provided as a range. One thing you should do is ask for the company's compensation range for the specific position. This will tell you a little about their flexibility in the offer and your upside income potential if you are hired.

Conflict is Not Part of a Negotiation for a Salary for a New Job.

Conflict occurs when two or more people compete over a commodity. This can be anything. Land, money, a woman, a man, the baseball bat or the last piece of cake are all commodities likely to cause conflict. But a salary negotiation for a new job is not a fight over a commodity. The company is looking to minimize its expense in the hire. You are looking to maximize your potential in taking a job. What you have to offer is time, talent and potential. They offer income, benefits and future potential. At this point both parties have agreed on the ultimate outcome provided the salary negotiations can be resolved. That is a significant aspect of any negotiation. Both parties now want the same thing!

Change the Negotiating Environment Strategically

Knowing at this point that you both want the same end result, you can relax and seek ways to make the other person more comfortable with the process, with you and with his or her decision to hire you. Instead of an antagonistic environment you want the discussions to become mutually supportive and respectful. Make an effort to recognize the pressures the company faces n its hiring practices and seek ways to assuage such impact my reselling your credentials or capacity to handle more than the specific job description. Suggest that they are hiring not only someone to do the job in question but to grow with the company and take on far great responsibilities. You are their investment in the future. This shift in mood exudes confidence on your part and may make your salary requests more palatable.

Establish Your Value

Job applicants are readily available. If you have made it to the stage where you are discussing salary you are doing very well. Now is the time when you slow down, take a few moments to resell your unique assets for the company. Note that I said the company and not just the job. Sure you can do the job. That is why you are talking salary. But you have more to offer. You are looking for a future with the company. Once they have trained you, you will be a valuable asset they won't want to lose. Your addressing why you are seeking a position with this particular company for long term reasons will enhance your potential value to them and improve your ability to seek a higher salary or more benefits.

Be Creative When Structuring a Compensation Package

Salary is important but it is only one portion of a compensation package. Seek benefits that are meaningful to you such as medical coverage, dental coverage, 401k matching contributions, stock option, a company car, and / or a company mobile phone. All these items add value to you and also become leverage when you go to another company. At that time you can indicate the total package you are getting and require it be improved upon to get your attention.

Be Patient When Negotiating

This is an important negotiation. You job will consume at least 30% of your waking hours. You need to like the job and you need to feel adequately compensated for doing it. That means at the onset you should be patient and make sure you do the best possible job getting the right package for you. That includes an opportunity for advancement either with our without the company. It is your career and each step should be carefully planned and executed.

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.

Being Right Isn't Winning

Being right is an ego thing. Just because you feel that you are right does not make it so. It also does not mean that others agree; or should agree. Being right is a perception colored by interests, needs, history, emotion, perceptions, and, all too often, self-deception.

Thinking that you are right is almost always biased.

Don't let your ego blind your vision and foil an opportunity to advance your cause. Achieving your objectives and goals should be more important that assuaging your ego. We often lose sight of this. It is a dangerous mistake to make in a negotiation and can result in a satisfying victory at the cost of losing the war.

Equally important is to consider the other person's reaction to losing. Will a loss cause more than a material loss? Will it leave an emotional scar or, worse, terminal injury?

When handling conflict with family, friends business associates or even adversaries consideration should be given to the relationship and its value over and above the incident at hand. Do not ruin a valued relationship just to point out that you are right or gloating when you are victorious.

Negotiating can be a very personal activity. People become empassioned when arguing with those close to them because they care. They are emotionally invested with the relationship. How you handle these situations will color the emotional health of the relationship in the future.

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How to Negotiate

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.

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.

Fear - the Negotiator's Tool or Nemesis

Fear is what terrorists use against large, organized, powerful foes. In earlier times in Chicago a mafia underling would walk into a local bar or restaurant and observe, "This place could have a fire." The owner would logically say, "No way, never had one." The next day, after a fire broke out in the kitchen, the underling would return and say, "See, I could have helped you avoid that. A little insurance goes a long way."

This intimidation forced many law abiding citizens to pay for protection from the Mafia.

In the 21st Century Muslim extremists are using the same concept. They are trying to invoke fear into the western population to advance their cause. They cannot hope to confront most of the world's military power or even their own countries head on, so they resort to attacking the mass population in the name of Allah and their cause. If the masses become too fearful they will either promote aggressive retaliation or elect acquiescence candidates to avoid personal harm. Either way, the terrorist gains strength and power by usurping control of the population.

The best defense against a terrorist is to not change dramatically our daily routine, our perspective on life, and our willingness to do what we want to do. Add to this a little caution, some extra vigilance in being aware of what is going on around us, and not changing our basic beliefs will declaw the attempt of the terrorists to control us.

In a negotiation fear plays a large, strategic role in the outcome. Fear of failing, fear of the unknown, fear of not being helpful, there are many fears that can be used to advance a negotiator's cause. One of the most powerful tactics that few think to use is the fear of not being helpful.

Everyone wants to think that they care about others and want to be liked. A professional and adept negotiator will take the time to build a strong relationship with his or her adversary before really getting to the task at hand. In today's fast paced world, too little time is spent in this fashion. As a result, many negotiating successes are lost because people are too impatient, to hurried and dismissive of the value of building relationships.

How does fear serve the negotiator in this context? By becoming a silent motivator to get the other person to do something that he or she does not want to do. A sociopath has no regard for the feelings of others. He does not relate to others. The rest of us do. In the business environment, many try to be non-emotional. They get away with this sociopathic approach if the other person does not build a personal "bridge". Bank lending officers, credit managers, retail clerks all fit this mold. But who gets the best service at a store? Not the dour patron but the person who reaches out with a smile or kind remark. That is the person the clerk relates to and gives just a little extra. Why? Not because they have to but because they want to. This is a basic demonstration of the application of fear in a negotiation. The customer who has made the effort to build a personal bridge to the clerk has subliminally made that person concerned that they do not want to offend the person in some way. So they try to accommodate the patron.

Power Balancing in Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Feelings Matter in a Negotiation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life's a Jungle

We live in a competitive environment. At home there is competition over who gets the car, who takes out the trash, who takes the first shower. In school it's who gets the boy or girl, who makes the touchdown, and who has the correct answer. At work, as would be expected, competition is rampant.

In today's civilized world competitors don't have the luxury of killing each other. To survive and evolve man has learned to lose and return to negotiate another day.

So what is so special about negotiating? After all, we all do it. From the dawn of time life has been about trying to improve our situation. This applies to man and beast alike. Man has just become more complicated in his quest to improve his situation. Competitive by nature, we are constantly trying to make sure others don't take advantage of us or, given a penchant for getting into trouble, we are trying to convince others to help us out of a bad situation.

Honing our negotiating skills and learning to apply them in our daily lives can change how we manage to make it through.

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.

Rules and Negotiations

A Great White has no known predator. He is unique in that he can and does make his own rules. They are simple as they are based solely on the concept that might does make right in their world. Machiavelli would have liked the great white shark.

Every situation has rules. Whether it is playing baseball on the corner lot or submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court. Knowing the applicable rules enables us to compete more effectively.

In school, legal situations, dealing with any governmental agent and other structured settings, rules must be followed to stay in the game and make progress. As an example, failure to adhere to specifics of state contract law can invalidate contracts.

Depending on your goal and the importance of the negotiation, it may be wise to hire professionals to assist in the documentation to insure what you sign is what was agreed to in the first place. A note of caution: Use these professionals as tools to help you. Do not rely on them to solve your problem.

Rules are essential to order but they are not sacrosanct. If you find the rules to be too restrictive it is your right to challenge them.

Far too often I have heard negotiators say they didn't ask for a concession because it was simply not “done” or the "rule" could not be challenged. All to frequently these are rules established by the other person (landlord or developer as an example). Other than having something you want, these individuals hold no power over you; they have no authority to which you must succumb. Also once firm rules may change over time.

Don't assume that rules of others necessarily apply to you or are still in effect. Rules are subject to time and circumstances. They are not always in effect. Good negotiators challenge rules to avoid missing an opportunity.

Conquering Conflict

From birth we face a steady stream of challenges, struggles, and opportunities until the ultimate negotiation, death. Conflict exists as we struggle to satisfy our respective wants and needs in social circles, at school, at work, with our mates and companions, between parents and children, with medical and legal professionals, government officials or employees and retail clerks or service providers. The need to negotiate, AKA conquer conflict, permeates our very existence. Surviving a life of conflict is not enough. We need to conquer conflict so the act of living is not an arduous process.

Conflict need not be a negative aspect of our lives. It should not be feared or avoided. It is simply an aspect of life. Conflict in our daily lives can be handled with a common sense application of negotiating disciplines and techniques.

Many consider a negotiator a manipulator or someone intent on taking advantage of another person. The consensus seems to be that negotiating is a last resort through which one seeks to resolve a bad situation. That or it is the activity of predators.

I disagree. Conflict and negotiations are not only remedies for bad situations. They are not even aspects of our lives that can be avoided by choice. In fact, they cannot be avoided at all.

Handling conflict is part of the process of living; surviving in an interactive, social environment. We enjoy a world of opportunity and challenges. Negotiating is the steering wheel in our lives. How we steer determines if we land in the ditch or make it to our destination.

What we achieve during our lives is the result of our choices, our willingness to negotiate rather than avoid conflict and our attitude. With the right attitude, an expectation to succeed, and the willingness to try, fail and try again, there is little we can't achieve. Most important is to not lose ourselves in our goals but to enjoy and learn from the process of achieving them.

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.

Credit Checks

When bartering with headhunters, make sure you have enough beads and trinkets to stay out of hot water.

When negotiating for services or products or even a repayment schedule don't be afraid to ask hard questions. You have the right and the need to assess the capacity of the other person to honor the terms of any agreement that might be reached.

Doing your due diligence is part of managing the process of negotiations.

Before sitting down to negotiate part of your homework is to research the other party. That research should include conducting formal and informal credit checks. Credit checks can be simple on-line reports reflecting past performance or more informative inquiries of others who have done business with the person in the past. One's reputation as a performer (or not) is typically readily available if you take the time to ask around. Remember, your reputation is also in the public domain. So take care to preserve it.

Credit and Reputation reflect the capacity and inclination of the other person to make good on his or her promises. In every walk of life there are those who try to bluff their way to greatness. They do not realize that if they fail to perform they are hurting the other person. You have the right and responsibility to determine with whom you are dealing and whether it is a person with whom you want to associate, work, or entrust your project or assets.

When finally seated across the table from the other person continue your due diligence of determining his or her capacity to perform. You are merely establishing that it is worth your time to even enter into discussions. Be prepared to be asked for your references or evidence of your ability to perform. Both parties are entitled to know who they are dealing with and that the others performance is viable if an agreement is reached. The more credit you bring to the table, the less risk there is for the other person to enter into an agreement. That lessened risk will often allow them to compromise more during the negotiation.

Don't be afraid that your questions may be considered impolite or intrusive. Credit checks are done daily. When we tender our credit cards or checks to a clerk in a store, they do not simply take our word that we can pay, they access a credit service and verify that we have the money to pay the bill. If someone is willing to be questioned by a total stranger over their ability to buy a steak dinner, surely they should not object to providing a financial statement when buying a million dollar parcel of land or home. If they are, caveat emptor or seller beware!

Handling Bullies in a Negotiation

Elephants, gorillas and lions all posture as though they think they are all powerful. All it takes is one retort from your trusty elephant gun to shake their confidence!

Bullies are not just kids on the playground or lurking after school. Unchecked they grow up developing the interpersonal traits of the habitual bully. As grown-ups, bullying is often a characteristic of those not in power but close to it. Often powerful managers will have excellent hatchet men as assistants. These alter ego manifestations wield school yard bullying tactics in the name of their patron. Often the assistant is so afraid of failure that they exceed their authority. Such behavior, while effective much of the time, can be a buffered situation that hinders effective negotiations. If you are being 'handled' by such an assistant, find a way to deal directly with the principal.

Large developers are well known for training their leasing managers to negotiate from a "my way or the highway" perspective. This aggressive posturing is viewed as bullying by the many tenants who have to try to deal with them. Many tenant reps put up with this attitude because they are afraid not to make the deal. But it is necessary to be bullied. If the tenant rep takes the time to learn the facts surrounding the developer's financing, the vacancy rate in the center, and what other tenants are talking to the developer, they can determine whether the demands of the leasing manager are real or feigned. If feigned, tenants should be able to back the bully down and negotiate reasonable terms. If not, they should try to go around the leasing manager to someone willing to discuss the merits of the situation.

Some developers are bullies with power. That is, their developments are so strong that they are able to make the rules of the game. They should remember that when the time comes that they lose their power, and it almost always does, then they can expect retribution from the tenants they have abused in the past.

If you possess the power to dictate terms in a negotiation, do so in a way that does not appear to be bullying, autocratic or dictatorial. You want to structure an agreement that both parties want to keep. It is always good to have everyone leave the table with some self-esteem intact. In business, people change positions and companies a lot. You never know if the person you abused last week will be sitting across the table from you when the power equation is reversed. Build relationships as you meet and deal with people. The relationships you develop along the way will pay dividends in the future.

If the bullying is habitual in a personal or family relationship, you have the problem of not being able to get away to let things cool down or avoid future incidents. You need to consider your options. Determine if it is a real physical threat, in which case you need to get out and try to work things out after you are safe. Assess if the behavior can realistically be modified. Sometimes mediation and negotiation cannot change a situation and different professionals are needed. Sometimes there simply is no solution.

The Currency of Negotiations

Having a good supply of beads and mirrors is wise if you are venturing into the jungle. That is unless you don't mind staying to be dinner.

Negotiation is about currency. Currency can be far more than the money involved in a discussion. Understanding the currency of a negotiation is essential in knowing how best to negotiate the situation. Currency differs depending on the situation. Always identify and consider alternate or ancillary currencies in a negotiation.

Examples of alternate or ancillary currencies might be:

In All Situations:gold_items_sm.jpg
- Time: To everyone time is important. A negotiation takes time. Time away from other activities. Second to money, time may be the next most important currency in a negotiation.
- Ego: From birth we have been taught that to win is good; to lose is bad. While everyone can't always win, no one likes to lose. If you can make the other person feel like a winner, his actual monetary loss might be come acceptable.
- Opportunity: There are only so many hours in the day. Other opportunities will always be pressing. Future opportunities, however, may become part of the currency of the current transaction if presented as potential benefits of working something out. This adds value to the terms for the other party and can make the difference between acceptance and rejection of your offer.

In Business Settings:
- Missed Opportunities by Meeting: Everyone is pressed for time in corporate life. Going to one meeting usually is at the cost of attending another. Both parties at a meeting have already made an investment of precious time. They have also foregone another opportunity to attend. You can strengthen the other person's impression of your sincerity in meeting and trying to work things out by revealing what you have given up to attend this meeting.
- Recognition: Everyone needs to be recognized. If you make it a point to acknowledge the other person's contribution to the process, to the outcome, you are providing an inexpensive incentive for the person to continue on and try to reach an accord.
- Power: Powerful people to be reminded that they are powerful. By seeming to acquiesce to a powerful person can often extract concessions other lose at a small cost, some of your ego. Effective negotiators understand their goals and objectives and strategically give up some personal satisfaction to make a deal work or to cement an agreement that is marginally acceptable to the other person.
- Prestige: If the arena within which you are negotiating has a special intrinsic value to those able to participate, use that attribute as collateral to be involved. Some tasks have great PR value in the corporate or public arenas. Don't miss the opportunity to parlay ancillary benefits of a deal into tangible returns.
- Advancement: To many corporate negotiators success brings advancement. When casually discussing each other's background seek to find out if this particular discussion has special meaning to the other person. It may be that a successful session is as important as the primary terms to the other person. If you know this, you can extract value on other fronts in exchange for reaching a final agreement.
In Personal Relationships:
- Love: This currency in a relationship should not be put on the table cavalierly. It is the basis for the couple being together. Threaten the love in a relationship may destroy it.
- Respect: While sex is important, respect trumps sex every time. Men, women, parents, children all deserve and require the respect of those they love. It is a powerful currency in a conflict.
- Affection: This is far different than sex and can be just as powerful. Either the man or woman can use affection to shape behavior.
- Sex: Women have used this commodity since the first bite of the apple.
- Privileges/Responsibility: Children are eager to gain freedom and personal responsibility. These are valuable commodities the parents hand out in exchange for good behavior, specific performance (grades or chores), or as other rewards for the desired responses.

Opening the discussion up to these alternate or ancillary currencies gives the everyone involved the chance to come together on a myriad of terms rather than focusing on one point of disagreement. This makes the primary term less important and may convert a troubled situation into a mutually beneficial accord.

Ancillary currencies may seem to have little or no value to you but may be vitally important to the other person. Converting idle currencies in to valued commodities in a transaction is how negotiators create value. mediators are adept at bringing out the importance of public apologies, admissions of guilt, and mere recognition of another person's situation as a means of diminishing the importance of the primary matter being mediated. The process of mediation is based on the very human process of interaction. Typically the parties to a mediation have squared off and stopped communicating a long time before the mediation. The mediator brings them together and forces communication. This, in and of itself, facilitates the ultimate resolution.
By incorporating ancillary currencies, you will increase the opportunity to craft an agreement that yields a greater return on your investment than merely bartering dollars. Often it enables you to extract value from the other person for something that you intended to provide anyway.

What is Negotiating
When to Accept an Offer
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What to Avoid When Negotiating
How We Negotiate
The Difference Between Bartering and Negotiating
Learn to Communicate
The Art of Persuasion
Ten Persuasion Techniques
How to Negotiate

Negotiating the BOTTOM LINE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRACKETING tactics in Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Managing from the Bottom Line

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

Mediators and negotiators by definition have different bottom lines. While both are seeking to reach an agreement, that is the sole and absolute goal of the mediator. He has no vested interest in the terms of such an agreement.

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

In most cases, this is the point where you become willing to bluff. Bluffing is a last resort tactic that should be reserved until all you have at risk is failure itself.

Share your bottom line with your co-negotiators. If you are uncomfortable doing this, you should consider replacing the person causing the concern. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Your concern about being totally transparent with everyone on your team tells you something about the team or your management style.

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

Bluffing is a dangerous negotiation tactic.

A pack of wolves can smell your fear. Yelling and shouting is better than running, but not as good as firing your rifle if only you had remembered to bring it!

Do not employ bluffing as a tactic unless you are prepared to have it called. Bluffing can be a strategic mistake if you can't back it up.

A bluff is a venture into the unknown. You are calculating the other side will back down or not take the challenge. If you are wrong, you will have to perform or be caught in a bluff. Once you are caught bluffing, the other side will tend to assume you are always bluffing. It is essentially being caught in a lie.

Strategically it is safest to bluff when you have nothing to lose. Sometimes last ditch bluffing pays off. Sometimes it doesn't. The odds, obviously, are in your favor of improving your position as compared to doing nothing and accepting defeat.

There are times when you know you have cornered the other person. If the person then proffers an obvious bluff, you may want to consider it. It can be strategically prudent to grant a minor, ancillary concession to shore up the transaction rather than see the deal collapse and try to make the deal again.

Blame can hurt a negotiation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Removing Barriers to Effective Communications

To negotiate with a deaf and mute adversary, use a pencil and paper.

A negotiator must be understood to succeed. Barriers to effective communication can be removed if they are identified.

Look for signs that the other person is not listening and understanding you. Watch for nonverbal signals that he or she is uncomfortable, bored or otherwise distracted.

Check yourself when the other person is speaking to make sure you are listening rather than planning your next comment or thinking of what you will have for dinner. It is your responsibility to be an effective listener.

If you have issues that prevent you from focusing properly, tell the otherside you need to reschedule the meeting or that you are having trouble following his argument. Proactively remove the barrier so you can do your part in the discussion.

Layered Barriers To Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Barriers to Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Negotiators often create barriers to buy time.


There are times when you want to slow the negotiating process. This is when you need to deploy time-buying tactics. Creating barriers is an excellent way to forestall an unacceptable decision.

We live in a society where everyone is supposed to be omnipotent and the best at what they do. Playing dumb to disarm the other person or to buy some time to think over what is being said is a seldom used negotiating tactic. It is very effective.

There is nothing wrong with asking questions or asking for clarification. When the other person is making a major point against you, don't hesitate to interrupt to ask for clarification. It will break their train of thought and give you a chance to think of ways to deflect their argument.

We also live in the real-time world of email and faxes. Just because you receive a proposal by fax or email does not mean you should respond in kind. Feel free to sit on a proposal for a few days before sending a response. This signals several things. That you are too busy to look at the proposal. That you may have other offers. That it is not important to you.

Most important, it "says" you aren't ready to respond for some reason.

Don't be forced into making a hasty decision. Time typically works to your advantage. When you are at the negotiating table and the other person makes a proposal, sit back and ponder, for as long as you want and then some. More times than not the person making the offer will get nervous and improve the offer.

Your silence will signal that you were not satisfied with the terms. Their reaction tells you how much they want to reach an agreement.

As they say, silence is golden.

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.

Antagonism as a Negotiating Tactic

Don't feed the sharks if you want to go swimming! Intentionally irritating another person is usually counter-productive to settling a dispute. The goal is to build relationships upon which agreements can be forged. That being said, the parties to any dispute are essentially antagonists.

When a negotiation is stalemated and no one is really trying to make progress, shifting styles from that of a polite mediator to that of an antagonist can evoke a reaction. Such reactions cause some form of movement in the discussions. Then the parties on one side begin to bicker. They may be called into a caucus session by their attorney and told to quell the internal fighting in public as it undermines their cause. Similarly, a mediator stymied between two parties may become antagonistic toward one of the parties in private by implying that they are wasting his time by not trying to reach a settlement or not considering facts when they are presented. A healthy tongue lashing in private may serve as a reality check for the obstinate party and evoke a counter proposal.

When one party does not like a proposal and does not need to make the deal, he may simply harden his position and become antagonistic. If he is willing to walk away, being abrupt will either save time or cause the other side to improve their offer to keep the dialogue going. Either way, the antagonistic approach has used the power of indifference or negativism to change the outcome of the meeting.

Antagonistic tactics can backfire. Egos are fragile things and anger can rage uncontrollably when a person is provoked. Use an antagonistic style or tactic only if you are prepared to walk away from the meeting if things fall apart.

Eventually Negotiators Must Agree

For a negotiation to be successful, it must end in agreement. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. He has to want to take a drink.

The parties to any agreement both have to be willing to sign. This is different than wanting to sign. An agreement does not necessarily need to be equally satisfying. It just needs to be agreed to. Negotiators and mediators know that disparity of satisfaction has little to do with getting the parties to agree.

What is important is that both sides, individually, feel that they have gotten something out of the agreement.

Timing is everything. Agreements shouldn't be rushed. But a negotiator can prepare the way to reach an accord. Effective mediators and negotiators know this and use the negotiating process as a means to building an environment that promotes agreement.

Practice makes perfect. Actually, we all learn by practicing. Getting the parties comfortable with committing is part of achieving a global accord. All too often a negotiator tries to rush to an agreement only to be frustrated when the other person pulls back at the last minute. The problem is that the other person is psychologically not prepared to agree. This may well be an unconscious reaction to being pressed too hard to do something that he knows, in the end, he will agree to do. But undue or ill-timed pressure may cause him to rethink, and often change his mind.

One can pave the way to reach a global accord by making it a point to recognize each sub-agreement the parties make during the conversation or negotiation. These agreement opportunities can be as simple as deciding where to meet, to selecting a restaurant for a lunch break. They will also apply to small issues within the context of the discussion. These small achievements of collaboration establish a pattern of cooperation that prepares the parties mentally to accept the final terms.

Unless you have pre-emptive power and intend to use it, realize that you have the power to do everything but make the other party sign the agreement.

Few negotiations are concluded through invoking absolute power. Those that do would be better referred to as mugging the other person. In such situations, one side is out to decimate the other with little regard to the damage done in the process. This is an abusive situation, and after the dust settles, the oppressed party will be laying in wait for any excuse to break the contract or simply leave.
Power driven agreements are typically short-lived. Given the chance, the other person will renig as soon as possible.

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.

Data Can Impact a Negotiation

Identification of edible plants in a survival situation can be the difference between living and dying. Knowing the poisonous plants is essential!

Data is any information available about a given topic, person, commodity or situation. Having the discipline to gather, assess and use this data makes the difference between negotiating and begging. Preparedness is the key to a successful negotiation.

Typically information is readily available if you know how to seek it out.

If the information you are seeking is fact-based and in the public domain, the information may be available at the library, newspaper archives, from a title company, or off the Internet. If it concerns a payment that is in question, records from your accounting group or a copy of your personal check from your bank may be what you need. It may be troublesome to get the hard data, but it is difficult to refute and worth the extra effort.

Knowing the facts that help you is a good thing. Knowing those that hurt your cause is much better. When you conduct your fact-based research, don't narrow your search to the specific item. Be on the alert for related information that may be used against you or undermine your position. The search for data should be broad-based and inclusive to allow you to properly prepare for the moment of confrontation.

If your research is about the personality of the person you are confronting, seek the counsel of others who know the person, study previous negotiation results with the person or his company, casually discuss the person with his or her secretary, or read up on the person's activities. With a little sleuthing, there are usually some valuable insights available. As with data-based research, cast a wide net and collect as much information about the other person's interests, nature, and reputation as possible. You can use this collective pool of data to talk about his hobbies and interests to build a relationship or use it to be on the alert for his known stylistic tactics.

Take the time to fully prepare. If you do this, often as not you will be better prepared than the other person. As a result, you may be able to control the conversation and impact the outcome of the negotiation.

Power in Negotiations

Everyone possesses some form of power. It is not a unique or rare commodity. It exists within each of us. Power is an integral aspect of all negotiations. Those who have it flaunt it. Those who don't, crave it. Power is the fulcrum from which one seeks to leverage his or her position. The ability to reach within and draw upon it in time of crisis is another matter.

Knowledge is power. Similarly the lack of knowledge gives the other person power. Because you have not reviewed your material, your options, the facts, or your opponent's strengths and weaknesses you can not know just how much power the other person possesses in a given situation. Doing your homework before a negotiation expands your power base and diminishes any advantage the other person may have.

Everyone has the power to say "no". Knowing when to do so is essential. Knowing how much you can afford to spend on a purchase gives you the power of knowing when to walk away from the transaction. Saying "No" is very powerful in any negotiation. It is an unequivocal statement. Saying, "No, that is my highest and best offer. Take it or leave it!" is the ultimate power move. At this point in the negotiation you have decided that you have nothing to lose. It forces the other side to make a hard decision. Accept your terms or forego the transaction. Either way you have regained control of the situation.

Never enter a negotiation assuming you have no power. That is predisposing failure. If it is a situation where you have to meet and you are powerless, make the meeting worthwhile by cross-channeling the conversation to open other doors of opportunity. Don't waste your time or the other person's posturing when you know that you will concede. Move swiftly to the final agreed terms and then make the most of the balance of the meeting.

Power is an interesting commodity. It can be fact based or an illusion. Factual power has to do with money, options and time. The more you have of these three items, the more negotiating strength you have. Illusionary power, on the other hand, is often based on how the other person "sees" or perceives you. Your image is based in part on the assumptions the others make about you. You can impact those opinions by the way you act, your dress, your surroundings, your mannerisms, and how you address the others. Power is a state of mind; both yours and those around you.

Organizational Communication

Communicating is a key aspect of conflict resolution. It occurs in all human interaction in some fashion. During any conflict listening is typically impaired. To agree, the parties need to be able to communicate effectively.

Listen: Everyone should work at developing effective, interactive listening skills. When the other person is talking, you have the chance to learn something,--if you are listening to what they are saying rather than thinking about what you are going to say.

Observe: When speaking, you are responsible for making sure the others are listening. Verify this by observing the non-verbal reactions to what you say.

Signs of discomfort at what you are saying:

- A furrowing of the brow.
- Tensing of the upper body.
- Clenching of the hands.
- A set jaw.
- Leaning forward suddenly.
- Looking away, closing a portfolio or folder, or packing a briefcase.

Most important, watch the other person's eyes. When you are pressing too hard they will harden and stop focusing on you. What you are seeing is the other persons thinking about his response or how to end the discussion rather than listening to what you are saying.

Take Responsibility: Make sure you are being heard and understood. The other person will likely have to review what was said today with others. Make it your goal that he or she be able to clearly restate your case as you intend it to be heard.

There are simple ways to keep the other person interested and attentive to you.

1. Pepper your comments with questions designed to draw them into the discussion. By being involved in the dialogue, they will have to consider what they are saying. And when they speak, it is your turn to listen. They may reveal something of value.

2. Use silence to draw their attention. Pause before an important point you are about to make and let the silence grow until they take notice. Then proceed knowing you have their attention at the moment.

3. Use questions to reinforce their understanding of what you have said. Ask their opinion of a point you just made. If they have missed the point, restate it. You won't have as good a chance to reinforce what you have said once they leave the meeting.

Once two people are focused on each other and listening, communications can become intense. A mediator, while working to get the parties to discuss their respective issues, also monitors the reactions and interjects as required to keep the tone of the exchange productive. He may also use caucus sessions to separate the parties briefly to keep them from becoming too agitated.

In managing a negotiation you typically need to serve as both a mediator and negotiator to lead the discussion towards resolution. Don't be hesitant to ask for a short break to let things cool down or to simply get up. This will break the tension and allow everyone to take a breath.

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.

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.

Iran's Stalling Tactic May Have Backfired

Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post on Monday, September 19, 2005 wrote an article, "Iran's President Does What U.S. Diplomacy Could Not" showing how Iran's new president bought his country some time. She wrote, "Facing mounting criticism after walking away from negotiations with Europe and restarting part of Iran's nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked the world to withhold diplomatic pressure while he put together new proposals."">Iran's President Does What U.S. Diplomacy Could Not" showing how Iran's new president bought his country some time. She wrote, "Facing mounting criticism after walking away from negotiations with Europe and restarting part of Iran's nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked the world to withhold diplomatic pressure while he put together new proposals."
We live in a fast-paced society. Between faxes, email, pagers and mobile telephones, there is precious little time taken to reflect on the negotiation once it begins. But the pace of the discussions is something that you can and should manage. Just because the other party is in a hurry is no reason for you to rush a response or even respond. Take your time, assess your options, and set your strategy carefully. Then respond. You gain power and authority by setting the pace of the negotiations.

Keeping the other person in the dark can also be useful. When you use delay as a tactic, you do not need to tell everyone. Sometimes the unknown can forestall an action that jeopardizes your position while you regain your composure. When you are fully prepared, go on the offensive.

Linzer postulates that when the Iranian president contined, "Ahmadinejad appeared to threaten as much when he warned from the General Assembly podium that in the face of U.S. provocation, 'we will reconsider our entire approach to the nuclear issue'."

But such tactics can backfire. "The effect of that speech will likely be a toughening of the international response to Iran because it was seen by so many countries as overly harsh, negative and uncompromising," Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said in an interview Sunday. "The strategic aim of a great many countries is to see Iran suspend its nuclear program and return to peaceful negotiations with the Europeans."

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.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Does Little to Advance Negotiations

Visiting Washington this week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad introduced himself to the U.S. media showing defiance at U.S. charges over Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad went on to address the subject of Katrina and poke at the Bush administration's response. He compared the delivery of aid to victims in the Gulf Coast unfavorably with the response to natural disasters in the Islamic republic.

Whether you are negotiating, telling a joke or simply discussing a topic, you are partially responsible to make sure others are listening. The best way to stymie communication is to:

-Irritate the other person so he or she stops listening.
- Pepper your comments with blatant falsehoods.
- Intentionally put the other person on the defensive.
- Seek to raise issues that are sure to bring stress to the conversation.

Some people enter a negotiation with the intent to demonstrate their power and control. Unfortunately, in doing so they may actually undermine any chance of reaching an accord. But if your intent is not to negotiate at the moment, then such behavior becomes a justified stalling tactic.

Continuing he added, "We thought Americans would act more quickly and help their fellow Americans. We expected more." He added: "During the very first day of the hurricane, people could have brought more and limited the extent of the tragedy."

Ahmadinejad obviously has no intent of negotiating with the US about Iran’s nuclear program. His style and remarks are designed to thwart any productive conversation. Knowing that we are embroiled in Iraq and distracted by Katrina, this is a logical posture for him to take. He has little to lose and much to gain by pressing forward.

Read the news article "Iran's Leader Critical in First US Visit," by Glenn Kessler (at the UN) - the Washington Post, 16 Sept 2005 (registration required)

Team Negotiations

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown was recalled to Washington to oversee national hurricane Katrina relief efforts. His replacement is Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

Team negotiations are often essential in today's business environment. They function like any other team and become dynamic entities in their own rights. By expanding a group, additional talents and perspectives are added. Additional members also increase communications and focus challenges. This can be beneficial to the process, or detrimental.

Like any other aspect of negotiations or management, teams need to be well managed.

If you are heading a negotiating team, you need to manage the people on your team. Even if they are "professionals" you are responsible for their preparation, research, and the role they will play. This is especially important if they are "professionals". 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 going to be resolved by simply applying legal principles. When it comes to other issues and overall strategy, the responsibility is ultimately vested solely with the lead negotiator. You need to insure that everyone on your team knows their role, is prepared, and most importantly, that you have set the global strategy for the session and the parameters for settlement.

If you find you have a weak team member, replace that person quickly. If they have been engaged in the fray, do so in a fashion that does not impair the progress you have made. Negotiations is little more than small group management.

In the case of Michael Brown, he had to be removed because he had become a liability. Michael Chertoff tried to smooth over the impact of his removal by saying it was part of a larger need: "The effort to respond and recover from hurricane Katrina is moving forward. We are preparing to move from the immediate emergency response phase to the next phase of operations," Chertoff said during a press conference. "Importantly, we must have seamless interaction with military forces as we move forward with our critical work in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. At the same time, we are still in hurricane season and need to be prepared to deal effectively with the possibility of future hurricanes and other disasters."

Negotiation Barriers

An anonymous complaint is filed against Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, the lead character on the new TNT series The Closer, while she is busy investigating the murder of a Hollywood producer. The investigation threatens to jeopardize her career. Rather than take the easy way out by pretending to be contrite to stop the investigation, Brenda focuses on breaking the case. Her squad members, knowing of the pending investigation, work behind her back to thwart the unfounded case against her.

Negotiators are human. They are subject to being distracted by personal problems, other matters and even exhaustion. To a lesser extent, they can be distracted by delays in a meeting, antagonistic behaviour of someone in the room, or even by the light coming in through the window.

Being comfortable is an essential ingredient to being effective as a negotiator or mediator. Before entering a settlement conference put aside you personal issues and clear your mind. If the other issues are such that you can't do this, don't start the negotiation. Ask for a postponement or send someone else. You need to have all of you faculties focused to do the job properly. Such distractions are barriers or obstacles that stand in the way of a successful negotiation. Better put, barriers are obstacles to effective communications.

In order to have an effective discussion, the people party to the discussion have to be able to hear, be heard, and understand each other. If you sense the other person is distracted, make it your responsibility to expose the cause. If it is going to impede the other person from listening or focusing on what you are saying, you may want to suggest postponing the meeting. If you feel it will cause the other person to rush through the meeting and grant concessions to wrap things up, then it may be advantageous to proceed. Until you know the situation, you can't judge what the impact will be on the negotiations.

You may actually want to call their attention to the fact that they weren't listening and ask them why. While this second tactic may seem rude, it can often uncover the reason for the barrier that can then be removed. For example, I recall a situation where the other person replied, "I'm really sorry, my daughter is very sick and I'm distracted." To this I said that I was sorry to hear about her daughter and we put off further discussions until the personal problem was resolved. In understanding her personal need, we dealt with each other as real people. This helped us to overcome some of the tougher issues we were facing as we had built up a level of trust and respect. The point is that unless communications are being heard, they should be forestalled until the other person is ready or capable of hearing what you have to say.

The mere act of acknowledging barriers to communications can give you the opportunity to work together to start to agree on how to resolve the barriers. Then it will be easier to discuss and resolve the real issues.

By the end of The Closer, Deputy Chief Johnson's staff had demonstrated to her and to the LAPD that she was finally accepted. This will change for the better how they function as a team.

Crisis Management

Katrina has thrown America a major curve. After weathering the storm everyone exhaled. Then, the following day, the levies gave way and havoc erupted. The ensuing crisis has focused the attention of the world on America's ability to handle the situation.

Having good crisis management skills is an essential characteristic of an effective negotiator. No matter how well-prepared, how you have planned, or how ready you are for a negotiation, the unknown can always through a curve into the process. How the unexpected is handled often determines the outcome of a negotiation.

Managing a crisis requires:

• Understanding your own strengths and capabilities.
• Knowing where the high ground is and how to get there.
• Being able to gain the confidence of others and lead them to safety.
• Having the strength to weather the store and make the trek.
• Caring enough to make the effort to prevail.
• Taking action and following through to complete the task.

In negotiations when your final overtures are thwarted or an agreement made is broken at the last minute presents a crisis situation. Times like these require regrouping, on-the-fly assessment of options, and concise decision-making. Only good preparation and a strong knowledge base will prepare you to step into the breach and save the day. Whether you do it is up to you. It takes confidence, conviction and a passion to prevail.

Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security and FEMA, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and everyone else involved on the ground and in the chain of command have had to cope with correcting a problem that emerged from what initially was thought to have been a near miss. How they handle the situation on a go-forward basis is far more important that understanding how it happened. That will come later. In a crisis you look forward, make a plan, and attack the plan. You can look back later. What is essential is that the victims are attended to, the areas impacted are stabilized, and rebuilding is not only started but completed.

Effective Communications

In the last 2004 episode of ABC's popular series, Desperate Housewives, Edie goes to Susan's. She's scared to be alone after the news of Felicia's attack spreads throughout the neighborhood. She is so consumed by her fear she can't understand Susan's attempt to tell her Zach's holding a gun on her. Storming off in a huff, she is completely unaware of the situation.

Edie has demonstrated the need for effective, two-way communications in stressful situations. Observing other people while talking enables you to make sure they are awake, alert and actually hearing what you are saying. If you find them to be inattentive, as in the case of Edie, stop what you are doing and find a way to get their attention.

Whether you are negotiating, telling a joke or simply discussing a topic, you are partially responsible to make sure others are listening. You can verify you have their attention by:

-Observing the non-verbal reactions to what you say. Watch to see if they are reacting to what is being said or if they are thinking of something else. Frequently you will find that they are planning what to say next rather than listening.
- Pepper your comments with questions designed to draw the other person into the discussion.
- Pause and let the ensuing silence pique their interest.
- Ask their opinion of a point you just made to confirm that they heard you and understood what you said.

Taking responsibility for being heard and understood is part of being effective as a negotiator.

Edie's role in this episode also illustrates someone who is so involved in her own issues that she is not hearing what the other person is trying to say. As a negotiator, you have a real need to not only hear but fully understand the other person's comments. Make sure you aren't preoccupied with other matters before entering serious settlement discussions.

Collateral Damage Assessment.

Michael Scheuer, one of the CIA's foremost authorities on Bin Laden, says his agents provided U.S. government officials with about ten opportunities to capture Bin Laden. All of them were rejected. One of the last proposals, which he described to the 9/11 Commission in a closed-door session, involved a cruise missile attack against a remote hunting camp in the Afghan desert. Bin Laden was believed to be socializing with members of the royal family from the United Arab Emirates.

Collateral damage is a seemingly unique human concern. It comes from living within social structure and being concerned about how one's actions might impact those around the targeted objective. In war, collateral damage pertains to loss of civilian life when taking a military objective and the potential of losing support at home or from one's allies. In negotiations, collateral damage can mean damage to one's reputation or the company's reputation if unilateral actions are taken.

Often the easy victory is foregone in favor of the collective good of a grander plan. But if you lose enough skirmishes, the war might become hard to survive.

The best way to manage collateral damage is to maintain a proper perspective as to the importance of the issues being discussed. If they are related to other issues, make sure you are addressing the big issues before you bring in your really big guns. Don't waste too much of your power base on minor issues. If you win the major battles, the small issues will likely fall into place in time.

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.