Why We Negotiate
It is not a question of if but why we negotiate.All of us at some time or another negotiate.
Becoming more effective at it should help you to keep balance in your life. Negotiation is essential to healthy personal and professional relationships. Learning how to merge the wants and needs of the group and build mutually viable solutions is key to a healthy, happy life. It also makes you more effective in business and the world in general.
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 techniques of negotiating.
From birth we face a steady stream of challenges, struggles, and opportunities throughout life 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. This effort is typically in conflict with the needs and wants of others.
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.
Handling conflict, that is negotiating is actually not an arduous process; but all too often that is exactly how we perceive it. Most people consider conflict bad. The truth is, since we can't avoid it, conflict shouldn't be feared or avoided...but embraced. Living in fear is not living; it is missing out on living our lives fully.
Many people consider negotiating to be a business or political activity. Just as many people view a negotiator as a manipulator or predator. Few realize that negotiating is not the last resort to resolve a bad situation. It is what causes the situation!
So why are we afraid whenever we have to sit down and work something out with another person? There are four reasons actually and they all start with fear: Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of losing. Fear of offending.
Knowing how to negotiate is less about understanding the nuances of the process than it is about understanding people, appreciating their wants, identifying their needs and learning about their history and what makes them who they are.
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What to Avoid When Negotiating
How We Negotiate
The Difference Between Bartering and Negotiating
Learn to Communicate
The Currency of Negotiations
How to Negotiate
Negotiations Impact Relationships
You live, work, and play with others. To move through life, you must get along with other people in family, social, and professional settings. You must also get along with total strangers who happen to cross your path.
Winners feel good naturally. It is the way we are programmed. The feelings of losers, however, should also be considered. The fact that the other person lost, especially if the negotiation was a personal or social or even in some business scenarios, tends to breed feelings of resentment and ill will. In a on-going relationship you may win the battle only to damage the relationship.
At the end of negotiation find ways to make the other person feel good about something. In a business setting, compliment the other person's performance, professionalism, or knowledge.Indicate your appreciation that the other person was personally involved in working things out. Ease back from the transaction discussion to a more personal level of conversation.
With a spouse or other family member reaffirm how much you care about the person, that you love him or her, and that you are glad things were resolved because your relationship is so much more important than the problem that caused the fight.
Even when dealing with your banker, a store manager or another casual acquaintance, a proper closure can be the basis of avoiding future conflicts. Indicate that you appreciate how the other person was able to be flexible and help solve the situation. Indicate that he or she has won some loyalty on your part. Try to give the other person a reason to be pleased with more than just the terms of the agreement.
Conflicts are usually short-lived and resolution offers the opportunity to move forward together. Over your life, it is the relationships that will prove valuable, not the little victories along the way. As you interact with other people you naturally balance a myriad of things to maintain the level of a relationship that you want. This does not imply that the other person has the same level of interest in the relationship. When you are negotiating it is important to appreciate how much the other person values the relationship and make sure that you are not threatening the relationship when simply trying to avoid taking out the garbage in the middle of a football game.
Be a good winner by reaching out to the other person to stem any residual ill will. The effort will pay dividends.
Effective Communication is Essential in Any Negotiation
To negotiate people must have the ability to exchange ideas, concerns, proposals and arguments. The purest form of communicating is a power play based on brute strength. It requires no finesse. Time was when a caveman simply beat to death another male and took the man's woman back to his cave. Deal closed! The message is clear, concise, and unequivocal.
Civilization, A.K.A. socialization, has complicated matters creating a need for more complicated negotiations. Today, inflection, innuendo, and deceit cloud otherwise simple statements. We have learned to hide our feelings, goals, and ambitions. We try to suppress our base appetites to appear more civil but the basic urge to self-indulge is never far beneath the surface. This feigned civility is more often learned at home as a child and is subsequently reinforced later in school and evolves as we mature to the point that many adults are hampered in their relationships by self-imposed communication barriers established to create what they perceive are improved images of their real personalities.
They are living a fabricated image and have to constantly hide their true self to preserve the image they want to project. This is not to suggest that we should return to the Neanderthal approach and just clunk each other over the head! To negotiate effectively we need to understand that we must peel away the communication obstacles the other person has created, knowingly or not, and uncover the real issues the person needs resolved. This means being a good listener as well as an effective speaker.
We need to work at hearing more than what is being said to source the intent of the speaker; not hear what we want to hear.
5 Negotiating Tips to Uncover Hidden Agendas
Hidden agendas are the personal are the private goals and objectives that impact how we publicly negotiate. Everyone has these agendas. Very likely your hidden agenda will be far different than the other person's or even those of co-negotiators.
Hidden agendas are the meat and potatoes of good leaders/managers. Good leaders have a sense of mission, a purpose that garners the respect of others. Negotiators who can demonstrate these same leadership traits will garner the same respect. Just as leaders can impact the outcome of meetings so too can effective negotiator-leaders impact the outcome of a negotiation.
Every participant in a negotiation has a personal agenda. Those agendas are hidden unless they are shared with the group and most people don't openly share personal agendas. If they did, there would be little mystery or drama in life or our personal interaction.
So how do you uncover another's hidden agenda? By being a good detective:
1. Ask questions. Soliciting the other person's needs and wants is essential in setting the parameters of the negotiation.
2. Think like a reporter: Ask follow-up questions designed to cross-check or validate previous answers.
3. Feel free to question responses. It is important to understand what you are being told.
4. Gather and digest the responses to develop a basic understanding and appreciation of the other person's perspective, basic needs and stated wants regarding the situation.
5. Observe the non-verbal reactions that may indicate responses that are less than forthright.
Negotiation is far more than simply sitting at the table and exchanging proposals. It is the process of learning enough about the other person to be able to engage the person in a dialogue that makes that person want or need to work with you.
Remember, negotiating is persuading someone else to do what you want them to do.
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.
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.
What is Conflict Resolution
Conflict between people, any two people or larger groups of people is a fact of life. We are different people. We have differing wants and needs. This means our goals and objectives are in conflict most of the time; even when we are on the same team. Conflict is normal and healthy as long as it can be resolved preserving the relationship of the people involved.
Conflict exists within families, among peers, friends and neighbors. It exists at work, church, school and simply along the street among strangers. Conflict resolution is the process by which we handle the conflict in our lives.
There are many ways we try to resolve conflict. By surrendering, running away, fighting, litigation of filing a complaint with the human resource department. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), AKA conflict resolution, is more civilized than violence and typically cheaper and quicker than litigation.
Common forms of conflict resolution include negotiation, a discussion among two or more people with the goal of reaching an agreement, mediation, a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party facilitator helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement, and arbitration, a process in which a neutral third-party acts as a judge of the dispute and decides the outcome for the parties.
But conflict resolution need not be so formal. Essential we each resolve conflict throughout every day of our lives. We don't consider our parents, siblings, bosses, employees, teachers and students to be warring factions but the conflicts with these people in our lives can be far more complex that some territorial skirmish between nation states.
When resolving our personal conflicts becomes more than we can handle there are some approaches than offer help. This assistance can be provided by your church, school, employer or even another family member. But if you want something a little more formal, consider:
Evaluation by a Third-Party
This involves enlisting a unbiased attorney, arbitrator or other professional to review the situation and try to facilitate a resolution by explaining the cost of litigation and likely outcome if the case. The parties then can assess if it is worth litigating or would they be better off just settling and moving on.
This approach uses a common and respected friend, associate or family member to both of the parties is asked to help resolve the dispute. By having another person hear the complaints of both sides and offer a fresh objective the angst of one-on-one fighting can be mitigated and solutions struck.
It is important to remember that conflict is a normal and necessary part of any healthy relationship. Life would be far too boring if no one disagreed with you or objected to something you were doing. And how would we ever learn anything new if we were never challenged by our teachers, parents or employers?
How we deal with conflict in large part determines the quality of our lives. When mismanaged relationships can be tested and even harmed. By developing effective conflict resolution techniques and skills your personal and professional lives should prosper.
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.
Traders 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.
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. 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.
Three Negotiating Strategies
Negotiating is the process of enticing someone else to do what you want them to do for you. That can be selling something for less, providing service you need, or paying more for something you have. Obviously there are endless applications of negotiating but you get the drift.
When you interact with other people you are always negotiating in some way. Whether it is passing in the hall or closing a large real estate deal, you must reach an agreement. Getting to a consensus is the process of negotiating.Forcing your way on others may be effective while you have the power to do so but will quickly wear thin at work, at home or with friends.
If negotiating is so prevalent in our lives it makes sense to consider these three negotiating strategies:
1. Get to know the other person. How, you might ask, do you get to know a person you meet in the hall? One of you needs to step aside to pass. By observing the other person you can assess your need to be considerate of an older person, the fact that the other person is preoccupied and does not see you, or a threatening glare. In any negotiation the other person will reveal valuable information through nonverbal signals and innocent conversation. Being observant enables you to learn very quickly a number of things about the other person. Such strategic observation will help you decide what to do.
2. Understand what it is the other person wants. Everyone has wants and needs. You may know yours but have you taken the time to understand the needs of the other person. How can you hope to negotiate anything unless you know what the other person wants? Ask. Most people will share what they want. It is up to you to ascertain what they really need. That is what you will have to pay.
3. Determine how important the issue is. There are four primary currencies in a negotiation. The commodity itself, compensation, time and the relationship of the parties involved. It is a balancing act to be efficient in how you expend these currencies throughout your day. Make sure the commodity you are negotiating for is worth your time, potential damage to your relationship with the other person, and what you will likely have to pay. Don't waste your time trying to win negotiations that take too much from your aggregate pool of these four currencies.
Negotiating is not rocket science but it does deserve your attention. Our lives are filled with interactions with others and how we handle pour negotiations impact not only the quality of our lives but that of those around us; especially those closest to us. These three negotiating strategies will help you extend due consideration to the feelings and needs of others. Bullying others into doing your bidding or always using power negotiating tactics threatens your relationships and limits what you accomplish in your life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HOW DO WE NEGOTIATE - THREE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS IN PERSONAL NEGOTIATING
The population of America is over 300,000,000 people. That means there are 300,000,000 different ways we negotiate as we each handle negotiations uniquely. Negotiating is a contact sport. We are always in the game. To be effective you must be able to persuade others to listen to your arguments, consider your arguments, and decide that they want to help you achieve your goals.
They do not need to decide that you are right. They do need to want to help you.
There are three essential elements in personal negotiating:
Managers must motivate employees to do their jobs allowing the manager to succeed. Teachers must motivate students to study and produce homework and learn. Parents must convince their children not to play in the street, do drugs or otherwise step in harm's way recklessly. Whenever two or more people come in contact there will be some level of conflict.
Resolving the disparate interests is a matter of establishing a commonality of interests.
People can be motivated by many things. Simple fear, the desire to be liked, a respect for the other person, or simple avarice and greed are examples of persuasive techniques. But there are many ways to persuade others to help you. They all play off the core psychological drivers that effect most people.
In a relationship with a spouse, child or parent a consistent response, positive or negative, on your part will condition the other person to react in a specific way. Parents, teachers and employers use this persuasion tactic of reinforcing positive behavior. Be aware that the opposite approach can work to your disadvantage. If you bully or abuse your spouse or peers you can expect them to begin to expect this behavior and react to it. Eventually your actions may destroy the basis for the relationship.
Persuasion is not a bad thing. Everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. If you are unable to convince others to want to help you, you will find it hard to achieve your objectives and maintain healthy relationships.
Compromise, in a negotiation, is the process by which each party gives a little to get a little. It is the process of merging interests to yield a balanced outcome meeting the needs, not necessarily the wants, of the parties to the agreement.
Relationships require compromise. In order to get along long term both individuals must develop the desire to help the other achieve happiness and satisfaction. This is not easily achieved if you are always trying to win every argument, or every discussion, every fight.
It is important to learn to help each other achieve your respective goals. To do that you need to take the time to understand the other person's needs and wants.
For any relationship to work there must be a basis of trust. Negotiations are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the other. This need to trust each other is essential for groups of people to function well together.
If one person makes a habit of breaching a confidence, breaking his word or outright lying distrust will cause strife and distrust in the relationships. This distrust, if left unchecked, will grow into resentment and ultimately ruin the relationship.
Consider your future when contemplating breaching the trust with someone you care about. Is the quick victory really worth the long term impact?
How to Buy A Used Car - Six Negotiating Tips
Everyone has bought or helped someone else buy a used car. It is usually how teenage boys get their first cars. If they are fortunate enough to have their father there to coach them, it is the lesson that they actually listen to and take to heart.
Because we frequently purchase used cars we all think we know how to negotiate with a car dealership. To some extent this is true. But consider this, used car sales people do this all day long. They likely make as many deals in one week as you will in a lifetime. So they are more practiced than you are. That is a given.
So it is wise to respect your adversary when buying a used car. The dealer will have many tactics and techniques to eke the best possible price out of your negotiation.
To be prepared to buy a used car, consider these six negotiating tips.
Typically buying a used car is the perfect setting for a negotiation. The buyer has limited assets and the seller is eager to get the car off his lot. Both parties are motivated to make a deal. The setting is ideal.
1. Define your objective. Never discuss price until you are you have found the car you want. Price may make a car appear attractive but that allure will fade when you see what you really wanted in the paper or another lot tomorrow or the next day.
2. Be prepared to buy. Make sure you know what the car would cost elsewhere before making an offer. There are several blue book resources and online shopping can give you a feeling for a fair asking price. The actual condition of the car you are considering will only tweak what the car should bring as compared to others that are available.
Remember, asking prices are marked up in anticipation of buyers negotiating discounts and offsets. When you find the used car you want get it checked out by your mechanic before you negotiate the price. A lemon is a lemon at any price!
3. Manage your time. When you have found the car you want don't start negotiating with limited time. Come back when you have ample time as the dealer will use the negotiating delay tactic to make you anxious to complete the deal and drive out with your new car. Avoid this trap.
4. Don't go first. Knowing that there will be a negotiation, the asking price is always set high. Before you make a firm offer ask what the best deal the seller is willing to take is. Typically the seller will pare something off his price to get the negotiations started. This will not be their best price but the most they are willing to offer before you state your price.
There are times when they will drop their price below what you are about to offer. Even if this is the case grimace and feign that their best price is slightly out of your reach. Slowly make your counter at a price affordable to you but beneath their asking price to establish the parameters of the negotiation.
5. Don't forget the terms. The terms of a deal can make the price more or less attractive. Make sure you factor in the financial impact of the terms before settling on the final price. Do not pay top dollar for deal options or maintenance agreements. This is often where the dealership makes high margins. Keep it simple and negotiate the best price and financing when buying a used car.
6. Be Observant. Be aware of the other person's response to your offer. Your objective is to bring the negotiation to a close just before they decide not to sell. Don't over negotiate.
While salesmen in dealerships have experience negotiating the sale of a used car you have an advantage of your own, the power of choice. There are many used cars and many dealerships. There are private and public sellers. You can buy in your town, in your area or on the internet. There are online and print resources. Because you have all these options or choices you have a lot of power because you are free to choose to go to the next seller if you are not happy.
If the salesperson will not come down to what you know the low market is, then leave your number and walk out indicating you have other opportunities. At this point the salesperson only has one buyer. This means he will need to come after you and improve his deal or, which might be the case, he paid too much to get the car and is not in a position to be competitive.
Either way, you time is valuable and you need to know if you can deal with the person or go to your next option.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Art of Persuasion
"Yes" is what we all strive to make another person say. The objective of negotiating is to inspire or coerce the other person to agree to your terms. Persuading others is the art of the process.
People can be motivated by many things. Simple fear, a desire to be liked, respect for the other person, or simple avarice and greed. Each are motivators in a negotiation.
In most negotiations we assume that the prime motivators are avarice and greed. It is the use of other, less obvious motivators that makes the difference between those who barter and those who negotiate. Bartering is an exchange, typically a fair exchange of like value. Negotiating has the potential of creating value from the process. It is much like making 1+1=11 rather than 2.
There are many persuasion techniques. They all play off the core psychological drivers that effect most people. They represent the basic negotiating tools most of us use consciously or unconsciously.
One such technique is the use of classical conditioning when trying to persuade others. The Pavlovian model can be effective. Ivan Pavlov studied the cause, effect and reaction relationship and how consistent repetition of a reward or punishment can reinforce a specific performance. The important lesson is that the subject need not understand the cause but learns to relate or anticipate the response to the action.
A consistent emotional response, positive or negative, on your part can be used to condition the other person to react in a specific way. This persuasion tactic involves reinforcing positive performance such as reaching an agreement with you with a positive emotional reaction.
People want to please others. It is human nature.
If you proactively reinforce their performance when you reach an agreement with something with a sincere smile or handshake or appreciative gesture, you will be establishing a reinforced relationship subliminally. You can do the same with negative incentive such as frowning, feigned anger or frustration. The key is consistent reinforcement on small matter to build the performance pattern.
Like it or not, everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. There is no way around it. Whether dealing with a spouse, child, boss, employee, peer, ally, school mate, date, teacher, banker or car salesman, we are trying to hear that special word, "Yes!"
If you are unable to convince others to your way of thinking, you will constantly be doing their bidding or lose the relationship. Rather than resenting others who are telling you what to do realize that it is your fault, not theirs that you are not more persuasive.
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.
A Winning Perspective
In order to win or prevail in a negotiation or argument we must accomplish our mission or close to it. Before engaging in a negotiation or settlement process we know what we want to do. It is clear to us. Arguments don't offer the luxury of pre-planning and you may not be focused at the outset on your goal other than winning the immediate point. In those cases we should not lose sight of the value of the relationship in proportion to the immediate incident.
We are a competitive species. It is natural to get caught up in the give and take of the negotiating process. When we are in the trenches it is often easy to lose sight of our objectives. This is especially true in personal relationships where emotions can cloud our judgment.
Throughout any negotiation take breaks to regroup and refocus on your objectives. Think through how things are going and where they are headed. Get control of your emotions and assess how your tactics and strategies are working. Most important, make sure you have not lost sight of your primary goal and objectives.
In personal disputes it is acceptable to call for breaks. This is especially important when engaged with a child. Before you let their tactics get you emotionally out of control, call for a break and send the child to his or her room to think about what they are saying or doing. This gives them a chance to become less emotional and focused on simply winning. It also gives you time to catch your breath, get your bearings, and plan a solution that will defuse the argument.
As a parent it is your responsibility to lead the way out of arguments. You children need to learn this from you so they, later in life, can do the same thing with their spouses or children. Everything you do with your kids as a parent is part of your role as a teacher and mentor. They are always watching and will later mimic your behaviors.
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.
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.
Learn to Communicate
Babies Must Forget to Communicate
Gorillas beat their chests and roar to establish their supremacy in the jungle. This simple approach to communicating can be very daunting if you happen to be cornered at the time!
For millions of sleep-deprived mothers around the world, the findings of a mom from Australia with a special gift could be a miracle! Priscilla Dunstan says she's unlocked the secret language of babies. When Priscilla was a toddler, her parents discovered she had a photographic memory for sound. At age 4, she could hear a Mozart concert on the piano and play it back note for note.
Priscilla says "Other people might hear a note but I sort of get the whole symphony," She goes on saying. "So when someone's speaking, I get all this information that other people might not pick up." That mysterious second language took on an astounding new meaning when Priscilla became a mother to her baby, Tom. "Because of my gift for sound, I was able to pick out certain patterns in his cries and then remember what those patterns were later on when he cried again," Priscilla says. "I realized that other babies were saying the same words."
After testing her baby language theory on more than 1,000 infants around the world, Priscilla says there are five words that all babies old utter regardless of race and culture. These are Neh="I'm hungry", Owh="I'm sleepy". Heh="I'm experiencing discomfort", Eair="I have lower gas", and Eh="I need to burp".
Evidently all babies have the same basic 'vocabulary' at birth. When parents don't respond to those reflexes, the baby learns to stop using them. When parents don't respond they must learn how to make their needs understood.
What are these babies doing? They are learning how to negotiate. The first rule of negotiation is that one must be able to -communicate and hear the wants and needs of the situation.
When we enter into a negotiation, any negotiation, we need to communicate. We need to learn how to do this in that specific situation. Each situation, because there are different personalities and issues involved, present differing communication challenges.
In a family dispute yelling or screaming is very likely going to block effective communications rather than make your point. The best way to resolve an emotionally charged discussion is to learn how to diffuse anger to allow both sides to be heard and to try work out their difficulties.
In the business environment negotiators who are demanding and use aggressive tactics often win small skirmishes but lose battles when the other person walks away from the table or declines to negotiate further. They may also miss opportunities to build the relationships that may later have been the bridge necessary to succeed.
Parents, struggling to communicate with their teenaged son will find that a ratio of calm logic may be far more effective that harsh criticism and grounding for sneaking out at night. Even though he is grounded there is little to do once you are asleep and he has your car keys. Rebellion is a strategy to test limits. By having their teenagers balance responsibility and performance in setting their own limits parents will fare far better than trying to enforce an autocratic approach.
By shutting down communication one loses the opportunity to learn from the exchange. As long as you possess absolute power this may work for you, Beware, typically power is fleeting and revenge is sweet!
How does one learn to communicate in a given situation? Much like the babies discussed above, we need to listen and observe the reactions to what we are saying. Verbal, non-verbal, overt, discreet responses need to be studiously considered during initial conversations the lead up to the actual negotiation so that you are prepared to understand what the other person is trying to say. Style, mannerisms, dialect, diction, education, background, knowledge, expertise are all exposed when one speaks. The question is if you are able to 'hear' the subtle messages that are being sent and aware that they will help you to learn how best to communicate with the individual once the discussion becomes serious and focused.
Negotiating is a natural process but by no means is being effect at negotiating easy. It takes hard work and discipline to be more than a casual negotiator. Take the time and make the investment to be come good. The efforts will return huge benefits throughout all aspects of your life.
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:
- 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
Brainstorming as Part of the Negotiation Process
Man's ability to dream, to think beyond the obvious sets him apart from the animal kingdom. This unique characteristic has resulted in bows, arrows, slings, knives, spears, black powder, guns, bombs, nuclear warheads and other tools needed to advance civilization!
Brainstorming how to solve a challenge is the crux of advanced negotiations. Until the parties at the table begin to work together to resolve their issues the confrontation is merely a brawl or barter. It does not create value.
Negotiations should yield incremental value in that both parties should be able to leave the table thinking they gained more than the other person.
Brainstorming goes hand and glove with the whole-pie theory of negotiations. Before focusing on the base terms of a negotiation take the time to get as many issues as possible on the table. Expanding the scope of the discussion should reveal areas of agreement that help to offset the compromises that will eventually be required to settle the primary point of dissension.
The globalization of the discussion, the brainstorming to add incremental issues, and the process of reaching ancillary agreements creates the groundwork for the final, major negotiation. The incentives provided to assuage the ancillary needs can help to justify the required concessions on the major issue.
It is the capacity to look beyond the issues at hand to come up with viable solutions that make negotiating an art form rather than mere bartering or brawling. Before you actually sit down to negotiate, seek to uncover the ancillary issues that may have a bearing on the discussions. Brainstorming prior to a negotiation or settlement conference could include:
-Other related or unrelated areas of opportunity to work together.
-Issues related to the specific topic at hand that have yet to be raised.
-Common goals and objectives the parties might have.
-Common acquaintances the parties might have that may add credibility to either's arguments.
-Common challenges the parties may be facing on a micro, macro and global level.
You won't know where the brainstorming might lead. The time it takes to discover related issues typically pays dividends once the final negotiations commence. Be patient. Be diligent. Be thorough. Doing something right makes it worth doing.
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.
Arguing is a destructive by-product of human interaction. Between nations, it can lead to war and mayhem. Between couples it can lead to pain and divorce. Negotiating is very different than arguing.
Arguing or fighting typically ends with the proponents trying to obliterate each other by out-shouting or simply shooting the other to end the argument. This amounts to screaming over the other's words to the point that nothing is heard by anyone. Seeking to overpower the other person may result in the other person simply walking away from the situation. If so, nothing is solved. No one wins.
When involved in a marital or family argument, understand that every person has differing personality traits that impact how they deal with anger. One important difference is the time it takes to get over a fight. Many of us get mad quickly but get over it just as quickly. Others are slow to ignite but simmer for days!
A couple needs to learn the "anger" pattern of the other. This difference will explain reactions and enable the couple to better understand each other. Respect is a key part of any relationship. Granting enough time or space for the other party to cool off is part of respecting their needs. Demanding the argument end on your timing is to selfishly want things your way and is not the way to end an argument. It often will result in a far greater argument than the original issue.
When conflicts between a parent and child or a husband and wife repeatedly escalate beyond control, destructive words and acts often become the norm. This mutual abuse slowly destroys the underlying relationship. Even though the more powerful parent may prevail, the underlying war will ultimately be lost as the core feelings that bind the family relationship may eventually be killed off. As a parent you need to try to control the situation and keep the discussions focused on the matter at hand rather than allow personal attacks to overshadow the core issue.
In business it is not acceptable to kill one's opponent!
Business conflict is typically resolved through negotiation. Whether the negotiation is over an employee's conduct, a supervisor's actions, a building lease or pay raise, the process is the same.
It stands to reason that the most effective negotiators are those with absolute power and the willingness to use it! Few people have absolute power. The rest of us must work to develop tools and techniques to improve their negotiating results.
Managers who demand compliance leave employees with two choices. They can knuckle under, accept the situation, and stay to make the money necessary to feed their family. Or they can fight back. Rather than quitting and jeopardizing their family's subsistence, they simply start seeking another job. By learning of other options the employee has grasped the power to decide whether to stay or leave. If the decision is to leave, the manager will have to become reasonable or accept the loss of an employee and the cost of finding and training a replacement.
In taking the initiative to seek another job, the employee is establishing his or her value on the open market. Knowing that worth empowers the employee with choices and forces the company to either acknowledge that value or lose it.
While arguing is not an effective negotiating tool, prolonged discussions designed to wear the other party down on issues can be an effective negotiating tactic. Learn to control your temper and extend discussions to gather information or wear down the other party. Losing your temper will have the opposite effect.
Assumptions Lead to Negotiating Pitfalls
Seldom does a lion make a faulty assumption about its prey. They take the time to carefully stalk their prey until they know the time is right to strike. Man, on the other hand, eagerly rushes in only to find he forgot to pack his big-game gun!
Assumptions are at the same time necessary and dangerous. It is not likely you will have all of the information you need to make a decision. So you must fill in the blanks, so to speak. How you do this will determine if you are successful or not in whatever you do.
The best defense against a poor assumption is good preparation. Thorough knowledge of your topic, your goal, your strategies and objectives, your company, yourself, your opponent, his company, and the issues relating to the task at hand is the best way to insure your assumptions are reliable.
Few have the luxury of such preparation in their daily routine. So prepare as much as possible before the meeting and then add to your knowledge by measuring the reactions to your questions and comments. During a casual question and answer session you can refine what you know or think with reasonable accuracy if you listen effectively and watch the person's body language.
The problem with bad assumptions is that they can lead to bad conclusions. During your preparation separate what you know and what you assume to be the case. Then focus your conversation on validating your assumptions. In addition to using the preliminary casual discussion period to build a good working relationship or to create a healthy environment within which to negotiate, do not miss the opportunity to uncover false assumptions.
Interpersonal Communication Skills
A negotiator needs to be skilled at two things. Delivering and receiving messages. Unlike a postal carrier, he must make sure his message is heard and understood. Unlike a court recorder, he must understand as well as hear.
Learning to listen pro-actively and observing while you speak is just the beginning. Negotiating is an art form. Communicating is nothing less. Mastering the ability to reinforce what you are saying with your actions and demeanor allows you to more effectively communicate your point.
Actors practice or rehearse their lines in front of mirrors to get their entire persona to deliver the "feeling" as well as the line. Attorneys preparing opening and closing arguments do the same thing. Why, then, should not other professionals take the same care to insure they are optimizing the impact of what they are going to say? In fact, most mediation and negotiation professionals do go through various types of rehearsals and dry-runs before important meetings.
Prepare, review, and practice for the meeting so that you have mastered the subject matter and know what your objectives are before you sit down to do battle. If you are not adequately prepared you may find that the discussion is being controlled by the other person and that it is being channeled where they want you to go rather than toward your goal.
Knowing the material and being prepared is the first step to good communications. Taking responsibility for delivering the content is the second. Most people will not be convinced through a verbal presentation. Likely they will be spending more time preparing their response than listening to you. That is why you need to shoulder the responsibility of making them actually hear and understand what you are saying as part of your role as an effective communicator and negotiator.
When speaking, you are responsible for making sure what you are saying is being understood. Verify this by:
- Asking follow-up questions to make sure you were understood.
- Repeating salient points two or three times.
- Seeking input on your comments.
- Repeating key points one more time for effect!
- Observing the non-verbal reactions to what you say. *
* By observing you are trying to see if they are thinking of something else, if they are planning what next to say, or if they are just asleep!
Conversely, as an effective negotiator you have to train yourself to be a good listener. We all have bad habits. Many of them apply to how we listen. Our minds can handle much more activity than mere listening. Because of this, we are apt to be subconsciously trying to frame a response to the last point made, figure the odds on the baseball game this evening, concocting a strategy to get a raise at work and worrying about last night's fight at home; all the while also listening to the other person making a point. With all this concurrent activity, actually hearing what is being said is at best difficult. Hearing the subtle nuances within the context of the remarks is next to impossible.
When listening, you are responsible for making sure what you are understanding what is being said. Verify this by:
- Observing the non-verbal signals of the speaker.
- Asking follow-up questions to make sure you understood what was said.
- Repeating back the salient points for affirmation.
- Seeking clarification on complex points.
- Make sure you are not thinking about something else!
- Make doubly sure you are not thinking about what you are going to say next!
Don't sell short the need to improve your communication skills. They can always be improved. The discipline of leaving one's baggage at the door is the most touted and least observed. After all, it is your baggage, you can handle it! But like alcohol and drugs, personal baggage in a negotiation can take your edge or focus away.
Basic Management Skills in Negotiations
Any situation involving two or more people is a management opportunity. Those who take the initiative will typically prevail whether it is a physical confrontation or simply deciding which movie to see. Negotiations are only slightly more complicated management opportunities. Unlike a fight where blows are thrown, the combatants must feign civility and control. Initiative and leadership, however, are the most reliable tactics to be used to prevail.
Those involved in a dispute make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups intrinsically need to be managed. This is what makes mediators effective in settling disputes. They are adept at taking control and managing the mediation process. Negotiators can benefit from learning mediating techniques. Parents, too, benefit from approaching family disputes as a group dynamic situation in which each family member has a role and voice. Using the mediation technique of inclusion to integrate everyone's needs into the solution can provide a mutually agreeable group decision.
How does one take control of an informal group?
By exerting influence and demonstrating leadership traits. In a negotiation, there are some ways to take the initiative:
- Initiate the call to arrange for the meeting.
- Host the meeting where you will have the ability to perform administrative tasks through your staff for the group.
- Prepare and present (or have on the table) an agenda for the meeting.
- Acting as the host, introduce everyone to each other and make sure they have coffee, water or anything else they may need.
- Position your pad and pen at the head of the table before the others arrive.
- Before someone else suggests it, call the meeting to order.
These seem like small things but they demonstrate your confidence, your can-do attitude, and your control of the environment. All that is left is for you to control the discussion. That is not as easy. But you will have made a good start.
Managing implies taking responsibility for the actions of others. A negotiation leader or a mediator delegates responsibilities not only to his co-negotiators, if any, but to the other side. This delegation of assignments serves not only to get the job done but also to give everyone a vested interest in the outcome. A mediator advances the process by directing and delegating the participants in a mediation. This process serves to make both parties valuable to the process, more equal in their respective statures, and, ultimately, more likely to be able to come to reach an agreement.
In a negotiation, group participation can have a similar impact. By getting both sides involved in working together, the resulting 'attitude' should be more supportive of reaching a mutually viable accord.
Two ways to get two people openly at odds to work together include:
Start with simple tasks that are unrelated to the primary issue.
1. Suggest the other person come with you to the coffee room to help get the coffee, cream and sugar.
2. Suggest methods of sharing information. "If I can explain to you how I have valued the property will you demonstrate to me your cost basis?" This is a tactic to get the parties involved in valuing a piece of real estate by working together. It calls upon each to be an expert in their own right. It also allows you to gather essential information.
Disorganized groups without leadership quickly collapse into chaos. Chaos rewards the stronger of the parties; it does not yield a negotiated settlement. Chaotic situations offer opportunities for someone to intervene and bring some order to the situation. Effective negotiators seek to control the environment and manage the process. It is better to be deciding what is going to happen next than to be told what to do.
Don't relinquish your role to another unless doing so tactically serves your ends. There are times to defer to another person to advance your cause.
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.
Trust is Necessary When Negotiating
In episode eight of Showtime's popular series Huff, Izzy lectures Beth on trusting too much. "You know, trust is a device we use to put people on pedestals. The higher we put them, the harder they fall". "And your point is?" Beth asks. "The next time you catch yourself trusting somebody, look at that scar!" Izzy has been deeply hurt by her husband leaving her for another woman. Beth had naively let Huff's patient into their home trusting her when she said she would not hurt anyone.
Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussion, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews, literally any form of productive human interaction requires a basis of trust from which accords can be reached. Humans are inclined to want to trust each other. The need to trust one another is necessary to function in society.
Honesty or integrity is an essential personal characteristic for any negotiator regardless of the situation. If you have a good reputation others will listen with confidence. If not, you will have to sell each point hard and even then may still be doubted.
Make sure you mean what you say and that you are able to back it up with your actions or those of your company. Never intentionally give your word then go back on it. Sometimes situations change and you are forced to back out of an agreement. Never do so lightly. Explain the change that occurred. Clearly demonstrate your frustration at having to change your mind to the other person. Apologize profusely and empathize with the other person's angst. Try to find a way to make it up. You do not want others to think this is typical behavior for you.
If directed by superiors to reverse your word or go back on a contract, do not blame your boss or company. Even if that is the cause, it is your word that has been broken. Taking the heat personally demonstrates your sincerity and should save a good portion of your reputation. If such vacillation is habitual in your company, consider seeking another job where you can provide proper representation.
Izzy's bitter resentment demonstrates the damage caused by a breach of trust. For her, she has lost the ability to assume people are trustworthy. When this happens in a negotiation, the absence of trust will block any chance the parties have of opening up and solving the problem. In such a situation someone needs to suggest changing the negotiators or separating them. Often a mediator will put the parties into a permanent caucus setting and negotiate between the two parties, a process called shuttle diplomacy. This tactic diffuses the angst one or both of the parties has toward the other and may allow meaningful discussions to get started. You have to be willing to get burned from time to time, as Beth was, to effectively negotiate. It requires you to have faith in the other person.
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.
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.