Pillars of negotiations

It very often is the case, that while we study this kind of topic we’re inclined to think that the more advanced and subtle the stuff we read about, the more efficient it is. That is wrong. My take, and I will defend it with full-on aggression, is that executing the basics, but perfectly, is what makes the difference between mediocre negotiator and a great one. Let’s take a look then:

Basics that you have to execute well in every negotiations

1.       Information. Without certain knowledge about the topic at hand you can only bluff and rely on soft, psychological tactics.

There is no excuse for not doing your homework. No other than you just want to help the other side – maybe it’s bluntly said, but that’s the truth. In any negotiations information is the currency, whomever has more “purchasing power” wins.

If you know just how much your competitor paid for items you’re interested in – you have the leverage. If you know just how much costs capital needed for any job – you have the leverage. Etc.

2.  Always ask the question: “why?”. Please, please – do not ever jump into the trap of “common knowledge” while negotiating. Even if you have the same opinion. Make putting “why?” behind any information given by your vis-à-vis your habit.

In negotiations, well… In all argumentation really, an appeal to “common knowledge”, personal authority or any avoidance of direct question is an intellectually dishonest tactic. As negotiator it is your job specifically to unclutter argumentation from these kinds of dishonesties so both you and person you want to cooperate with get acceptable and just terms.

3.       Most of soft tactics and bluffs should be avoided and left to Hollywood political thrillers. To bluff is a very risky move that rarely pays off anyway. And even if it pays off it will harm future relationships and cooperation for sure.

There is not much really to add to this. Obviously you don’t want to alter conclusions your prospect jumped into himself (but sometimes it is highly recommended, so you could establish long-term cooperation), but when you have said it, it will be considered as a lie.

4.       Paraphrase the current terms if negotiations get heated and always calm down the situation with restating your understanding of currently discussed issues. Most of times negative emotions are due to lack of mutual understanding of the issue at hand.

You and your prospect could argue over issues that aren’t even that important to any of you and blow up entire negotiations. You should always remain calm and composed. And you should be the side to set this tone of conversation. This is called framing – you state the frame of what is acceptable so you have the intuitive upper hand of being judge of behavior. Authority, to say it bluntly.

And something for the fans of soft approach

It is always great idea to take half a moment to review what would please your prospect the most. The more you can empathetically “feel”/discover what are the goals of your vis-à-vis, the more you can contribute to your informational leverage.

With empathy you could predict the behavior of person you try to parley with. You could then propose terms that are acceptable for you to further underwrite the sense of mutual understanding and common interest.

Przemek Kucia

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