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 or team to be able to engage the other person in a dialogue that makes the other person want or need to work with you. Remember, negotiating is about your getting the other person to do something that you want done. The other person has to eventually be motivated to act. Negotiation is the process of establishing that motivation.
The seven basic steps leading up to any negotiation include:
1.Identification of the problem. It is essential to establish what the issue is before you try to resolve it. Often arguments occur because you and the other person are discussing different issues or the crossover relationship is not apparent to one of you.
2.Researching the issues. Knowing what the issue is allows you to do the basic research into why you are in disagreement and how important the issue is to you.
3.Selecting the participants. Both you and the other person are entitled to add or object to a potential participant in any negotiation. How the two sides populate their teams usually will have an impact on the outcome. Among other things you should try to keep people out of the negotiation who tend to inflame the situation.
4.Researching the participants. Once you and the other person have established the people to be involved in the discussion/negotiation you need to assess who The other person has on his or her team, why they were added and what position they are likely to advocate. The other person’s selection of co-negotiators will indicate the areas he feels are important to his position or the areas he feels he lacks expertise.
5.Preparing for the negotiation. Before you actually start any negotiation take a few moments or a few weeks, depending on the importance and complexity of the negotiation, to prepare for the negotiation session.
a.Separate facts from assumptions. Understand what you know about the situation and what you assume to be true.
b.Validate your facts. Sometimes facts change. Make sure your information is current. If you can’t do this, consider the unverified facts to be assumptions.
c.Validate your assumptions. Assumptions should be validated by third party confirmation or simply asking the other person if they are valid.
d.Test your assumptions. Assumptions that can’t be validated need to be tested or discarded. Erroneous assumptions can impair an otherwise sound negotiating strategy. Don’t set yourself up for failure relying on an invalidated assumption because you like it or it helps your case.
e.Adjust your strategies. Using the newly acquired information, make sure your initial strategies, objectives and goals are still appropriate. The new information can often change strategies and on occasion can obviate the disagreement altogether.
6.Meeting the Participants. When the participants first get together to start the negotiation there is usually a short period of time when people meet each other and get settled. This is an excellent period during which you should take the measure of everyone about to take a seat at the table. Observe who are comfortable and who appear uneasy. Participate in casual conversations to determine the interests and backgrounds of the other person’s co-negotiators. Make sure your advocates are comfortable and ready.
7.Establishing the parameters of the situation. Once seated at the table it is helpful to make sure everyone is aware of the issues to be discussed and uncover any new issue that needs to be addressed. If new information is provided or the issues changed feel free to take a break to reflect or regroup with your team if necessary.
You are now ready to enter into the negotiation. This is most typically done by asking or soliciting an initial offer. The early stage of any negotiation should be used to establish the parameters of the situation. That is, the bid/ask disparity between you and the other person.
Each step deserves to be mentally considered before it is undertaken. A negotiator should prepare, plan, and execute on the sub-task or individual step level to maximize the potential from the process. The skill is in the preparation and the art is in the execution. Obviously more complex negotiations will have added steps and a more detailed approach but even simple negotiations can be better resolved if these steps are fleetingly considered before you enter the fray with the other person.