Negotiating: What to Avoid When Negotiating

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

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

There are some things you should avoid when negotiating.

Don't Antagonize

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


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

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

Don't Corner

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

Don't Win the Battle and Risk Losing the War

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

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

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

Don't Forget to Mend Fences

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

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

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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?

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

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


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Creating Value as a Negotiating Strategy

Except in a physical confrontation winning does not mean the loser must lose or even know he has lost. The art in negotiating is the creation of value so both parties can be vested in the outcome.

Creating value is work. It requires knowledge, preparation and inspiration. The benefit, however, can be a mutually satisfying resolution.

Conflict occurs when two or more people compete over a commodity. This can be anything. Land, money, a woman, a man, the baseball bat or the last piece of cake are all commodities likely to cause conflict.

The solution to conflicts other than by brute force is the realignment of interests through the exchanging of concessions. If the focus of the conflict is very narrow, like the wallet in your coat in a dark alley, the opportunity to align interests is very limited. Your best option is to tender it and hope that you will gain the option to walk away unscathed.

When the focus is widened, then there are opportunities to create value through the redistribution of assets or concessions that are valued differently by the parties.

The disparity of valuation is the key to value enhancement. Because we are all unique, we value things differently. The differential allows for the creative realignment of interests to maximize the potential value of the aggregate commodities.

Sex sells. The age old profession repeatedly validates this. The professional knows that she can up her price by adding feigned affection and personal involvement in the basic act. The cost to her is little in tangible assets but the reward can raise the price of a furtive back alley service to a lucrative remuneration for an ego (his) satisfying performance. The act has not changed. The perceived value has.

Similarly in a dispute over a minor issue between a contractor and the customer, a simple apology by the contractor may yield a significant concession by the customer. The cost of the apology to the contractor is a bit of ego; the reward is incremental cold, hard cash.

Conviction is Contagious

There is great negotiating strength in having the right attitude. To win it helps to expect to win. Attitude counts! Like any sport or other competitive venue, attitude has a direct bearing on the outcome of a negotiation.

Any negotiation, no matter how insignificant, is based in conflict. Those involved are competing to protect or advance their respective interests by depriving another of his or her expectations. Negotiation is the settlement of conflicting interests without resorting to force.

If you are convinced that you are right, if you think you deserve to win, if you know that you are in the right, your passion colors your arguments and strengthens your statements. Conviction is contagious. Others will be persuaded to at least consider your position if your passion is obvious and sincere.

If you have doubts, you will be less than convincing. Self-doubt will undermine your arguments and encourage others to resist and fight back. Before getting involved in a settlement session resolve your doubts and mentally prepare to win. If necessary, adjust your position to be more realistic and, thereby, increase your own expectation of prevailing.

Positive attitude does not come to everyone naturally. There are ways to reset your mindset to be positive and create a positive demeanor:

• Visualize Winning. When considering strategies and tactics before a meeting envision winning with each tactic. Actually imagine and savor the moment of victory. This mental exercise sets in your mind the feeling or the gestalt of deploying the strategy or tactic successfully. When the time comes to actually use it, your actions will be more natural.

• Deserve to win. When setting your objectives and primary goal, test the terms against what you know to be reasonable. If they are reasonable you can set aside doubts that you will be rejected on the facts or "found out". Before the meeting mentally contemplate the other person acknowledging the reasonableness of your argument and amending his position towards yours. Focus on actually convincing the other person. This form of mental preparation serves to establish your expectation that you deserve to prevail, that you should prevail. You are empowering yourself to prevail.

• Prepare to Win. As the start of the meeting approaches, plan how you will enter the room. Remind yourself to stand tall, make direct eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and emit confidence. Dress for the meeting. Pick your clothes to reflect this confident demeanor. Remember, you can always dress down during a meeting but you can't dress up. Typically I over dress to insure I am the power figure in the room. I can always take off my coat and loosen my tie to make others comfortable.

The power of persuasion comes from within.


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.

Fear - the Negotiator's Tool or Nemesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Group Dynamics in Negotiations

People seldom act alone. Everyone has a group of associates or family members that need to be at the least informed of important decisions before a commitment is made. More often, prior approval is needed. This approval may be from a family member to keep the peace at home or from a corporate superior or oversight committee having the actual authority to bind the company.

When the group is involved in the negotiation process becomes much more challenging. The group has its own structure and objectives. Individual members of the group will typically have differing personal objectives and opinions. The negotiators challenge is to decipher the leaders in the group and the protagonists. Each will have to be dealt with to achieve an agreement that will survive the test of time.

The best way to find the decision makers or leaders within an opposing group is to discuss various aspects of the situation. Listening to each member's dialogue, content and, equally import, to whom they address their remarks no verbally. Look for glances or a change in their sitting position as an indication that they are watching how someone in their own group is reacting to their remarks. This differential habit will reveal where they stand on their team.

It is important to 'hear' the content and observe the delivery. A CFO can speak in deference to his CEO but the message can carry the import of the Board of Directors. Conversely, others speak to be heard and recognized by those in power. Differentiating those who want power and those who enjoy it will improve your ability to target the right person with whom to forge a consensus.

Group negotiations are most challenged when there are opposing views and power factions within the group. As an outsider and the 'opposition' it helps to ferret out such discord to decide if the group can reach an accord or if you are wasting your time and theirs.

When you run into a fractured opposing group dynamic you may be able to divide and conquer. But such power tactics have their limits:

• Pushing the primary negotiator to make a commitment contrary to the rest of his team may be successful during the meeting but fall apart as soon as the meeting ends and his or her associates speak up in private.

• Pressing too soon may cause the other team to postpone making any decision until they can agree among themselves thereby costing you the benefit of their fractionalization.

• Choosing the wrong negotiator to whom to play may back fire when the real power on the team emerges in opposition to the way you have lead the discussion.

The best advice when facing a dysfunctional team of negotiators is to go slow, increase your awareness of non-verbal signals and verbal intonations, and pace yourself not to be overcome by the varied and oblique affronts frequently used in group negotiations, and keep the discussion focused on where you want it to go. Don't let it become distracted or fragmented by allowing everyone on the other side to derail the process by talking just to be heard.

Strong negotiators must also be strong leaders. Controlling the content of the meeting and the direction of the discussion comes from the deft application of informal leadership skills. Sharpen these skills and you will improve your negotiating results.

Power Balancing in Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Negotiations Personality Matters

Knowing the deployable "personalities" in a negotiation (see my previous post) is a good strategy but does not address use of your strongest negotiation asset; your personality!

Effective communication is essential in a negotiation. Sincerity is the power behind the delivery of a point or proposal during a dispute resolution settlement conference.

Using your natural personality to color or add dimension to your delivery is your best means of making your statements come across as sincere. Getting comfortable with your innate personal style will help you become more believable; more trustworthy in the eyes of others.

Everyone has different personality traits. Some are hard-driving, get to the meat of the matter forces. Others are more relaxed, preferring to develop relationships before focusing on the issues. Still others use humor as a defensive or offensive tactic.

How do you come to understand your basic personality traits? Observe how you act around those you are comfortable with; family, close friends, school chums. Are you the one cracking the jokes? Do they look to you to decide what to do? Are you always trying to keep everyone happy? How you act with these groups is a mirror as to your natural personality. You are relaxed and at ease. It is this personality that is "you".

Knowing that you have a primary personality does not mean that it is the only one you can deploy during a negotiation. But it does let you understand your most sincere delivery style. As your mix the four negotiating styles in any negotiating situation you should find that you shift back to your primary style when trying to make an especially important point or close a deal. It is the strong under-current of sincerity you emit in this mode that signals the other person that this is your final concession, your highest bid or the point at which you are about to walk away from the table. It is a powerful message!

Knowing how to deliver key messages with intense sincerity is part of the art of negotiating.

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.

The Power of Persuasion

If you want to win a negotiation you must expect to win. Attitude counts! Like any sport or other competitive venue, attitude has a direct bearing on the outcome of a negotiation.

Each negotiation, no matter how insignificant, by definition is based in conflict. The people involved are each competing to protect their respective rights by depriving another of his or her expectations. It is a negotiation over conflicting interests.

The secret of winning lies in the passion one brings to the event. If you are convinced that you are right, if you think you deserve to win, if you know that you are in the right, then your passion will color each argument, strengthen each statement, and lead you to victory. If you have doubts, you will be less than effective. Get rid of your doubts before getting involved.

Positive Attitude Tips:

Plan to win. When you are considering strategies and tactics before a meeting envision using each tactic and prevailing with it. This mental exercise sets in your mind the feeling or the gestalt of deploying the strategy or tactic successfully. When the time comes to actually use it, your actions will be more natural and more effective.

Expect to win. When setting your objectives and goal, test them against what you know to be reality. If they are reasonable expectations, visualize achieving the objective. Do this repeatedly to set the image in your mind that the objective and goal is achieved. Don’t focus on the process of achieving it during this mental exercise but on actually achieving it. This is a form of programming yourself to not only want the objective but feel entitled to it. You are aligning your inner being to expecting to walk in and win. You are empowering yourself to prevail.

Act like a winner. When you enter a room, stand tall, make direct eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and be confident in why you are there. Take the time to get comfortable at the table, lay out material you may need, then settle back, ready to begin. Your statements should be brief, pithy and authoritative. Concise, targeted proposals convey clarity of purpose and conviction on your part. As you deliver them, assume they will be accepted. The power of a positive delivery is immeasurable. If the other person has doubts about their position, it may show in their reaction. Be alert for signs of their doubt. If they question you proposal, ask them why. Never accept on face value an objection. If you are confident of your position, the other person should be placed on the defensive unless they can prove you wrong.

The power of persuasion is based in your personal conviction of being right and entitled to prevail.

The Currency of Negotiations

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

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

Examples of alternate or ancillary currencies might be:

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

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

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

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



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

BRACKETING tactics in Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

Assume and Fail!

The difference between man and beast is that man assumes he is better than the beast. In the wild a man is only a match if he has the right equipment, is well trained, and knows the jungle. A camera on safari is no defense against a charging rhino!

In every dispute resolution one must assume certain things about the other person in order to make progress. As an example, you may be trying to measure when the other person has reached his limit in the discussion before you make your final concession. How you come to this conclusion must be based in part on an assumption on your part.

To assume is to presume or presuppose. Assume also means to imagine. This is dangerous territory in a negotiation. You need to limit your imagination as much as possible by turning to your communication skills and validating your assumptions. But, better still, you need to minimize your assumptions.

Assume less, listen more:

-Identify what you are assuming before a meeting, and when the meeting starts, ask questions to validate your assumptions.

-Seek third party input to validate an assumption. Don't make an assumption about something that can be researched.

-If you don't know, ask. You may be surprised at how open the other person is.

If the assumption is about a significant issue, don't rely on your gut. Investigate, question, brainstorm, network and research until you can assess the approximate accurateness of your assumption. No one said negotiating is easy.

Flash Negotiations

Running into a angry grizzly requires swift, deliberate action. It is often best to aim and shoot rather than think and plan how to react.

Flash Negotiations is a tactic used to quickly resolve an issue. The proper use of this tactic relies on the sixth sense a negotiator gets that a resolution is at hand. This can happen when meeting the other person for the first time. Usually such meetings are tactical opportunities to gather and validate information upon which future strategies are developed. But the experienced negotiator will, on occasion, get a flash opportunity to open resolution discussions while the other person is off guard. Take advantage of these situations to save time and money. Flash Negotiations often yield the best possible deal available.

How does flash negotiating work?

To be able to deploy Flash Negotiations one must be able to draw upon his or her experience reading people, understanding the specific situation, knowing the background facts and understanding what they are prepared to do to make the deal. Armed with a strong base of experience and people skills, an aware negotiator commences the research interview. As the discussion develops, the other person may signal that he or she is receptive to an offer, is caught off guard, wants quick resolution, or is up to speed and prepared to discuss the matter.

Any of these signals presents an opportunity for Flash Negotiations.

If you are prepared to open negotiations, take the initiative and make a low but realistic offer. Tender as low an offer as you think will be received without shutting off the dialogue.

If the other person counters the offer or asks for more information you will know that the opportunity exists for a Flash Negotiation. His counter will set the parameter of the bid / ask and you can typically assume that the negotiation will end up at the median of the bid and ask. In a flash negotiation I often move quickly to that median point and use the swift pace of the negotiation as a reason to acknowledge the other person's professionalism, insight and forthrightness.

If you are ready to deploy Flash Negotiations as a tactic you will typically find that you will secure better terms and save time by doing so. As you have initiated the dialogue, you should be in control of the facts, be better prepared, and have the negotiating advantage while the other person has had little time to assess the situation.

When to use Flash Negotiations:

-When more time benefits the other person.
-When time is critical to your cause.
-When you know what you are willing to spend.

When Flash Negotiations may not be appropriate:

-When you aren't sure what your initial offer should be.
-When you do not know what you are willing to spend.
-When time is critical to the other person.
-When you are not prepared.
-When you do not have the authority to commit to the terms.

Develop the discipline to be alert and ready to deploy Flash Negotiations and you will be more effective as a negotiator or mediator.

Having Alternatives Improves Negotiating Results

When you come to a fork in the road you have two chances to make the right choice. Pick carefully.

Negotiating is very much like a trek through a jungle. You know where you are going but will encounter any number of obstacles that need to be negotiated to get back to your camp. Being proficient with your tools and having planned the journey will increase the odds of your making it through the jungle.

A negotiator does not have a compass, map or guide to assist him. But he does have similar tools and the opportunity to plan. Those who come to excel in the field invest in their trade craft and properly prepare before each encounter.

Planning for a negotiation requires proper knowledge and preparation. Facts are the basis of the map to the negotiation. Your ultimate goal is the compass heading you need to check and recheck as you proceed. Your co-negotiators and experts are your field team. Setting the plan is an essential step in the pre-negotiation process. Establishing a common goal for the team allows everyone to set their internal compasses and pursue the same objective.

Planning provides a chance to anticipate objections and prepare counter strategies. It is far better to be prepared than forced to react. Preparing and planning gives a negotiator alternative strategies and tactics to use in pursuit of his or her goal. Negotiations are conflict based. They are not intended to be easy. Being armed with alternatives improves one's chances of prevailing.

Overcoming Barriers to Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

A Negotiator Values Good Advice

Advice is cheap. No matter the cost, it can be extremely valuable to a negotiator!

Before sitting down to negotiate anything of substance it is worthwhile to conduct a little research about the person with whom you will be meeting. Seeking the advice of others is part of the due diligence aspect of negotiation preparation. How you handle that advice marks the difference between an impressionable novice and a veteran negotiator.

The negotiator's job is to qualify and verify the advice received. Often information is biased or flawed and can be misleading. Remember, the information passed along has been filtered by the other person and may be biased based on their experience. The task is to validate input garnered from numerous sources. If this information is deemed pertinent to the task at hand, mentally file it away to use when appropriate. If something is learned that is disturbing, seek collaborative input. Never trust a single source even if that person is respected. If they lost a fight or were embarrassed by the outcome, they are more likely to 'bend' reality to their liking than to relay the facts of the situation dispassionately.

Seek out advice by asking peers about their past experiences with the person or company, asking other people who have negotiated with them, or even asking their assistants or co-workers about them. Often one's hobbies reflect on the type of negotiator they are apt to be. A sailor, as contrasted to a power boat owner, is likely to be much more process oriented while the power boater will be focused on the end result.

Solicit input from as many sources as possible and distill it to salient impressions. Then, when actually meeting the other person, during the initial getting-acquainted conversation, observe and validate if the impressions seem to fit.

Train yourself to be observant and reflective to fully develop your negotiating skills.


Knowledge Improves Ability as a Negotiator

In negotiations, one's areas of expertise are not only defined by his mastery of the art of the process but his mastery of the issues being negotiated. You cannot expect to negotiate an outstanding real estate transaction unless you are well versed in the economic, cyclical nature, demographic, and geographic aspects of the specific real estate segment you are considering.

Negotiating is not just the process of bartering. It involves creating value from ideas and altering wants and needs to achieve an accord that is compelling enough to get both of the parties to agree. A negotiator cannot achieve this without being well informed of the subject matter.

A mediator, on the other hand, needs a working knowledge of the subject matter but need not be an expert in the field. His or her role is to bring structure to the settlement discussions and help forge a viable solution. Mediators are not creating value for their own accounts. They are seeking to introduce enough avoidance value so the parties can agree to settle for less than they feel they are entitled to in order to avoid the risk of losing more before a judge or jury.

A negotiator's ability stems from his or her knowledge of the collateral being discussed. The ability to negotiate is a hidden asset skilled negotiators possess. Frequently, they hide this attribute by feigning limited experience or lack of knowledge in "handling" such matters to put the other person at ease. This also may give the other person a false sense of superiority.

When a skilled negotiators meets the other negotiator for the first time, he or she will take the time to learn whether the other person is knowledgeable about the underlying subject matter. Many landlords are able to outwit and out negotiate corporate representatives from very large, powerful companies simply because they know more about the subject matter. Corporate employees handling real estate acquisitions for restaurant and retail companies often know a lot about real estate and very little about their industry. Landlords, on the other hand, are extremely well versed in the shopping center business, the economics of leasing and the dynamics of their tenancies. If you are a corporate negotiator, it is wise to learn the basics of how your business is run, what it takes to make a location profitable, how the occupancy costs impact cash flow, and what the drivers are that generate a strong top line. Being armed with this knowledge will enable you to meet the challenge of a well-prepared landlord and seek viable lease terms for your company.

It is not about how cheap you can get a property. It is about getting a property at a price that allows your company to make money.

Similarly, when negotiating to buy a home, you need to focus less on the cost than the affordability of the purchase price and mortgage terms.


Data Can Impact a Negotiation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions and Negotiating

Negotiators must be able to make decisions. Large decisions, small decisions, important decisions and mundane decisions. The process of making decisions is what advances a negotiation to its final outcome. Decision-making requires confidence, awareness, information, and courage. Most of all, it requires being prepared.

Prepare properly and agree to meet only when you are comfortable deciding what to do. Even though you may be meeting to gather information, the other person may present an opportunity for you to make an offer or accept a proposal. Being prepared to consider and act on such an opportunity enables you to take advantage of "The Moment".

There are those times when things just seem to go right and an opportunity to act presents itself. Unless you know what you want and need from a given situation, you will not be in a position to respond. Failing to do so may cost the deal later when the other person discovers other options or rethinks his or her offer.

People naturally resist making decisions. This is especially true when they feel they are being pressured to do so. To be an effective negotiator one needs to know how to prepare others to make decisions and commit. The climate of the negotiation plays a significant role in making everyone comfortable with making important decisions. Mediators work hard at giving everyone at the table a sense of power. They also use caucus or breakout sessions to separate people when emotions become too volatile. A negotiator can assume the role of a mediator in any negotiation by being sensitive to the climate of the discussions. By subtly taking responsibility for the "comfort" of the others, the negotiator assumes the mantle of a small group leader and may gain the ability to direct the discussion without having to force the issues through confrontational tactics.

Preparing for the Moment of Decision Tactics:

- If tempers have flared during the discourse, seek ways to mend the personal fences before pressing for decisions. People need to feel in control to commit willingly.

- As you approach major decisions it is helpful if you have laid the groundwork with small decisions along the way. This gets everyone used to committing and following through on their word.

- Review the terms carefully and solicit edits form everyone. By incorporating their changes they are becoming invested in the agreement.

- Encourage everyone to read the document one final time. You are intentionally slowing the process to ease the stress. Watch how others react to reading the document. If you see a cloud of doubt on someone's face, stop them and ask what is bothering them. You want everyone as comfortable as possible before placing pens in their hands.

- Review the reasons the others are agreeing to the terms and reinforce why their decision is a good one.

- Take a break and suggest a beverage or something to interject a chance to relax before actually sitting down to sign documents. Well timed breathers are a great way to diffuse mounting tension.

Decisions are pivotal moments in negotiations. Treat each decision, even the small ones, with respect. This builds a degree of comfort on the part of the other person in the process. Once a decision is made, reinforce why it was a good decision. It does not hurt to intimate that you may have conceded more than expected to build up the other's ego a bit. You want each decision to become easier as you build toward the really important decisions.

Negotiation, like any other process, can be managed. Who chooses to manage the process will likely prevail at the end of the day.

Problem Solving Skills and Negotiation

No one can negotiate until they understand the situation. Basically there is a problem to be solved that involves getting two or more people to agree on something. Basic problem solving is part of the skill set of any effect negotiator.

Defining a problem is critical. Often people fight over ancillary issues rather than the real problem. In a mediation the mediator takes the time to source, identify and quantify all the micro issues that create the underpinnings of the primary argument. Mediators are trained to resolve the ancillary issues so that the primary problem can be resolved.

Problem Identification Tips:

- Don't accept the obvious; seek out underlying issues or other problems. Often the other person or the parties may be unaware of the impact of these 'lesser' issues.

- Prioritize the issues and seek to resolve the minor ones first. This will create a more positive environment and may help lead to a global agreement.

- Seek to put emotional reactions in perspective. If you can diffuse any prevailing anger or distrust, you will have made a major advance toward reaching an agreement.

- Separate the "wants" from the "needs" and focus on satisfying the "needs" of each party. Often it is the "wants" that create the most separation. And they are the least important aspect of the problem once they are properly identified as "wants".

- Don't ignore or dismiss emotional needs or wants. Sometimes their satisfaction is more important to one of the parties than the monetary aspects of the situation.

Problem identification does not stop when you enter the fray. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying to identify additional irritants or issues. Listen for clues on how to satisfy a specific need using alternative consideration.

Problem solving is the meat of dispute resolution. By expanding the possible settlement options the mediator is seeking to solve the dispute by pairing unlikely party commodities so that both emerge feeling a sense of victory. Win/Win negotiating is not so much about appeasing both sides as it is about pairing needs and satisfiers so that both parties come away with more than they gave away in their minds.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Does Little to Advance Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crisis Management

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

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

Managing a crisis requires:

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

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

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

The Closer

Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, the lead character on the new TNT series The Closer, faces a group of Los Angeles' finest who do not know her, do not like her, and do not respect her. As a department head new to the department, Johnson is thoroughly resented. The newly formed Priority Homicide Squad is also a threat to the existing LAPD old boys club. Her challenge during the opening season, in addition to solving the homicides, is to overcome her squad's obvious dislike and disdain for her. Johnson is a CIA trained interrogator and was previously employed by Atlanta PD. Her excellent reputation for being "a closer", getting confessions that lead directly to convictions, is why she was brought in to head the new squad.

In negotiations being a closer is being someone able to actually bring discussions to a head and walk away with a signed agreement.

Mediators are expert at closing. That is what they do. They manage the process in a fashion that the parties ultimately come to an accord. Anything short of this is typically viewed as a failure. Their sole goal is to have the parties reach agreement.

The best negotiating that does not result in an agreement is less than satisfying. Corporate managers are not likely to appreciate all your hard work if you don't win more often than not. Corporations often lead managers to ignoring that accepting a bad proposal would be worse for the company than walking away from a deal. Most companies openly recognize and reward completion of negotiations more than the actual details of the transaction itself.

Closing a negotiation requires getting the other person to actually sign or agree. People naturally resist making final decisions. This is especially true when they feel they are being pressured. The climate of the discussions leading to this moment play a significant role in everyone being comfortable with signing the document or shaking hands to seal a deal. If tempers have flared during the discourse, seek ways to mend the personal fences before pressing for decisions. People need to feel in control to commit willingly.

The timing of asking for a signature or commitment is also important. If you sense the other person's unease, take a break and suggest a beverage or something to interject a chance to relax before actually sitting down to sign documents. Well timed breathers are a great way to diffuse mounting tension.

By the end of the first season in the series Closer, Deputy Chief Johnson has demonstrated to her squad and to the LAPD as a whole that she is, in fact, a Closer. Doing so she effectively converted her squad to silent but solid supporters. She did so by demonstrating that she can get the job done, with or without their willing support. Negotiators benefit if their reputation for doing what they say precedes them into settlement discussions. Not only does this make them more credible, it allows them to bluff on occasion.

Collective Dreaming - How to Win in Negotiations

Empires are built on dreams. Olympic champions start by dreaming of winning their next match in middle school. In last season's closing episode of ABC's television series Lost, Locke shared the spirituality of why he has been placed on an island in the South Pacific that has healed his legs. Jack, his protagonist in the series, is limited to caring for the others and hoping to be rescued.

Locke is much more likely to sleep peaceably dreaming of something more than just surviving each night while Jack lies awake wondering what the next challenge will be that he will have to overcome.

According to Peter Drucker, successful companies such as Harley-Davidson and Starbucks work because they are selling a lifestyle or an image rather than simply a product. Successful companies offer more than a commodity. They create a collective dream-need through marketing that only their product or experience will satisfy.

No one enters a negotiation without an expectation of the outcome. Nor should they. Their expected outcome is their dream. To achieve that dream, they must find a way to make it the other person's "dream" as well.

Most focus on their individual needs and wants without caring about the other person's needs. To excel at negotiating, the strategy of collective dreaming is required. Collective dreaming is the process of getting everyone involved in the discussion and then having the group envision the same objective. That is, getting all concerned to want to achieve that objective albeit for differing reasons. Then they are more apt to work together to make it happen.

To do this a negotiator needs to look beyond his or her interests and conjure the ultimate outcome of the negotiation if successful for the group. Then, acting as an informal leader, he or she must present that dream to the entire group demonstrating how, if achieved, it benefits everyone.

It does not cost anything to consider another person's needs or perspective. In the coming season of Lost it will be interesting to see whether Locke or Jack prevail in creating a common goal for the survivors.