How To Take Control Of A Negotiation

by drjim on June 26, 2015

If you are in control of a negotiation, then you'll get the deal that you want

If you are in control of a negotiation, then you’ll get the deal that you want

Image Credit: Faramarz Hashemi

I’m sure that you’ve been involved in a negotiation in the past in which after you made it though all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that were being used, the thought of “who’s actually in control of this negotiation” ran through your head at some point in time. I know that this has happened to me many times. What you’d really like the answer to that question to be is “you!” Now we need to determine how you can both take and retain control of your next negotiation.

Become The Scheduler

Most of the negotiations that we will be involved in tend to take awhile to wrap up. This means that we’ll be involved in more than one meeting in order to reach a deal with the other side of the table. Once one meeting wraps up, there is the open question of just exactly when we should get back together.

As a negotiator, you need to listen to what the other side is saying very carefully when it comes time to schedule the next meeting. Are they pressing to get together again very soon, or are they taking a more relaxed approach? Depending on which option they are pursuing, you’ll have more information about their negotiating position.

If the other side is pushing for you to meet again as soon as possible, then they have just told you that the deal that you are working on is very important to them. This means that you now have more negotiating power than you thought that you did. If they need you to move fast in order to meet their needs, you can use this to your advantage and do things like create the contract to be signed in order to move things along faster. Writing the contact will put you in control of the negotiation.

It’s All About The Notes

In order to remain in control of a negotiation that is extending over several different meetings is going to require you to take good notes. Although we may all be very proud of our memory, the number of issues that get discussed during a typical negotiation is so large that there is no way that any of us can keep it all straight for very long.

Not only do you have to take good notes, but you also have to keep your notes well organized. For each negotiation that you are involved in you will need to have a deal book, a folder, or a set of computer files related to the deal. After each meeting that has to do with the negotiation, it’s going to be your responsibility to update your notes. This means adding dates and organizing them based on what was being discussed.

The one thing that we all want to prevent from happening is that situation that happens when we leave our notes lying around. We’ll come upon them later on and we won’t be able to remember what was being discussed when the notes were made. You can’t allow this to happen. Your notes are how you are going to be able to get the deal that you want.

The Power Of A Letter

One of the challenges of a negotiation that is spread over several meetings is that it can be difficult for both parties to remember where things currently stand. You need to take control of the negotiations and make sure that they move forward instead of having to revisit issues each time you meet.

One of the best ways to make this happen is to write a letter to the other side. You don’t have to do this after every meeting, but after perhaps 3-4 meetings, taking the time to create a letter can be helpful to both sides. In your letter you are going to want to lay out your understanding of what has already been agreed to by both sides.

How the other side reacts to your letter is going to be very important. If they don’t say anything, then you can interpret their silence as being an acceptance of what you said. If they push back, then that’s good news because it means that something that you though had been resolved really was not. No matter what the response is, your letter can help to move the current negotiation along faster.

What All Of This Means For You

When we are involved in a principled negotiation, we would like to seize control and move the discussions along so that we can reach the deal that we want faster. This is possible to do, but we just need to know how to take control. It is entirely possible that the other side may be grateful if we do this because it means that they don’t have to and we’ll both wrap things up faster.

In order to take control of your next negotiation you are going to have to carefully watch the other side when it comes time to plan your next meeting. If they are pushing to get together sooner, use this to drive the negotiations the way that you want them to go. Take care to make sure that you are keeping track of all of your notes. Ultimately they will be a critical factor in your ability to reach the deal that you want. Finally, after a few meetings you can send the other side a letter laying out what agreements you believe have been achieved. Their response will tell you if they agree with you.

Control of a negotiation is critical to being able to drive a negotiation to the deal that you want to achieve. The good news is that control is easy to achieve and using the three tips that we’ve covered, you are now in a position to take control of your next negotiation. Grab control, don’t let go, and see what kind of deal you’ll be able to create!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If the other side wants to meet soon, is there any benefit to you pushing the next meeting out?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When it comes to negotiating, power can be a funny thing. Yes, generally speaking the side of the table that has the most power is going to end up getting the best deal out of the negotiations. However, it turns out that it’s not enough to have power in a negotiation – you also have to know how to use it. Very few of us have ever had any instruction in how to do this and so perhaps we should talk about what you should be doing with all of that negotiating power that you find yourself with.

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Just getting to the end of a negotiation is only the start

Just getting to the end of a negotiation is only the start
Image Credit: Daniel Mitchell

Yea! The negotiation is over and done with (or at least this meeting that is a part of the negotiations is done with) and the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have all been put away. Now you can go home, put your feet up, and relax until the next meeting. Hold on – it turns out that things really don’t work that way. Reaching the end in a negotiation is when the work really starts. Do you know what you need to be doing now?

What Was Achieved?

The most important thing to realize is that you need to get together with your negotiating team as quickly as possible after the negotiation is over. Our memory of what happened starts to slip very quickly so speed is of the essence. One of the most important things to discuss is a review of whether or not you got what you wanted.

If you had taken the time to define your objectives before the negotiations started, then you’ll be well positioned to evaluate the outcome. If it turns out that you were unable to meet your objectives, then this is the time to delve into why that happened. Your goal needs to be to learn from what happened and improve your odds of meeting your objectives the next time that you negotiate.

What Happened?

In every negotiation, there will be both good things that happen and bad things that happen. What you and your team are going to have to do is to sit down and come up with answers to questions such as what did you do that worked out? What went wrong? What could have been handled better?

Your goal in doing all of this is to learn from what happened. Your goal has to be to use this knowledge to improve how you go about negotiating. You’ll also want to talk to your negotiating team and get their feedback on how things went – what were their impressions?

How Have Your Assumptions Changed?

When we walk into a negotiation, we bring along our set of initial assumptions. These are effectively our best guess at where we think the other side is coming from and what they’d like to be able to achieve by negotiating with us. These assumptions are not always correct.

You may need to be open to letting your assumptions go. At the very least, you will probably find yourself having to either modify or eliminate some or all of them. It will be the additional information that you have picked up during the negotiations that will guide you as you evaluate your assumptions. Keep in mind that one of the worst things that a negotiator can do is to hold on to assumptions that are wrong!

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

It is a very natural tendency to want to take a break once either a complete principled negotiation or at least a part of it has wrapped up. It turns out that this is exactly the point-in-time that you need to be at the top of your game – there’s work to be done here!

The very first thing that you need to do is to meet with your negotiating team and review what has been achieved by your participation in the negotiations. How does this align with the objectives that you had mapped out before the negotiations started? Next you need to review how the discussions went. What was good about how things unfolded and what did you think was bad? Was there anything that you could have done differently? Finally, based on what has happened so far, how have your initial assumptions had to be changed?

I have often found that I’ve learned the most from my negotiations after they are over. It’s only when I have time to reflect on what has happened that I am able to understand how things fit together to lead me to the results that were achieved. The next time that you are involved in a negotiation, when it’s over take the time to review what you’ve learned and you just might be surprised!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: How much time should you allocate to reviewing how a negotiation went?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m sure that you’ve been involved in a negotiation in the past in which after you made it though all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that were being used, the thought of “who’s actually in control of this negotiation” ran through your head at some point in time. I know that this has happened to me many times. What you’d really like the answer to that question to be is “you!” Now we need to determine how you can both take and retain control of your next negotiation.

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