The most common forms of negotiation positional bargaining depend on successive taking and giving up of positions (imaging two people haggling over the price of an item). Negotiators may lock into positions, becoming more committed to the position than to the underlying concerns or original interests of either party.
Eventually, they may feel that compromise will result in losing face. Any agreement reached any reflects splitting of differences, rather than careful and creative development of a mutually beneficial solution.
Business negotiation tactics
Everyone knows how hard it is to deal with a problem without people misunderstanding each other, getting angry or upset, and taking things personally.
Perception: Don’t confuse your perceptions with reality and don’t deduce the other side’s intentions from your fears. The farmer who gets a notice from a lender requesting additional financial statements may jump to the conclusion that an adverse decision is imminent.
In fact, back examiners may be requiring the lender to increase the documentation. The request for additional financial information may have been sent to all bank customers with outstanding loans.
Emotion: Feelings may be more important than talk, particularly in a bitter dispute. Make emotions explicit talk about them and acknowledge them as legitimate. Allow the other side to let off steam, if need be.
It may make it easier to talk relationally later. Listen quietly without responding to attacks and encourage the speaker to continue until he or she has said everything he/she wants to say.
Communication: Without communication, there is no negotiation. Listen actively and acknowledge what is being said. Listening enables you to understand their perception, feel their emotions, and hear what they are trying to say. Ask the other party to spell out exactly what they mean or repeat ideas if they are unclear to you.
Focus on Interests, Not Positions: For a wise and fair solution, reconcile interests not positions. Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones. a farmer trying to buy a drill, needs it to get in the wheat crop and generate income.
The machinery dealer has an investment in the drill and needs to recover the cost of the equipment, interest on borrowed money, store overhead costs, salaries of salespeople, etc.
The farmer and machinery dealer have compatible interests the farmer would like to have the drill and the machinery dealer would like to sell it. Conflicts may arise when terms of exchange are discussed.
Invent Options for Mutual Gain: Skill at inviting options is one of the most useful assets a negotiator can have, but it does not come naturally. Four obstacles often inhibit consideration of multiple options: premature judgment, searching for a single answer, the assumption of a “fixed pie”, and thinking that “solving their problem is their problem”.
By focusing on a single best answer too early or taking aside, you are likely to short circuit a wiser decision-making process in which you select from a large number of possible answers. How do you get around these obstacles to develop creative options? You need to:
- Separate the act of inventing options from the act of judging them.
- Broaden the options on the table rather than look for a single answer.
- Invent ways of making their decision easy.
Separate Inventing from Deciding: Separate the creative act from the critical one; in other words, separate the process of thinking up possible decisions from other processes of selecting among them. Invent first, decide later.
A brainstorming session with a few friends and colleagues should produce as many ideas as possible to solve the problem at hand.
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