Written by Sean McPheat |
Often, people will prepare their positions effectively before going into a negotiation, but find that they haven’t determined adequately enough what the other party’s perspective will be, and so create problems for themselves in the process.
Here are some strong negotiating skills that will help you progress quickly and effectively through the process:
Make sure you keep the person and the negotiating situation separate in your mind. Remember that everyone will have a different perception of the situation, according to their viewpoint. Discuss these differences in relation to how the negotiation is going.
Understand the reasons why the other party are taking the position that they are. Request reasons why they are taking that position, if you feel it needs explaining. This gives you a clearer picture of their rationale in taking their position.
Listen very carefully to their situation and view them as a partner in problem-solving, rather than an adversary who must be beaten. Recap on their position, and get full clarity by paraphrasing or summarising their ideas in full, so they see you can understand their position.
Point out the concerns, problems or frustrations you see from your perspective. This will allow the other party to recognise why their position has to be negotiable.
Don’t assume there is only one solution to any negotiation. If they are wanting a price reduction, for instance, maybe you can negotiate on payment terms or discount for further agreed orders, rather than just concentrating on price.
Think of your BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Is there something else you might be able to agree to rather than achieving a stalemate in the process?
Again, if they want a change in the parameters of the negotiation, find out the reasons, rather than just going down the line of least resistance.
All movement should be a trade, rather than a concession. If the other party sees you simply giving way on positions, they may try for more movement, and you may end up in a lose-win position.
Be prepared to walk away from the negotiation if it is clear you cannot match their demands. It is better to stop, re-assess the situation and return later than be drawn into giving away more than you had prepared for.
If a negotiated agreement is reached, ensure you summarise and recap on the positions and interests that have been reached, and put all agreements in writing, so there is no ambiguity in what you have decided.
These strong negotiating skills should help you to achieve your goals and give you confidence in any situation where needs and wants are seen differently from both sides.
Originally published: 9 June, 2010
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