As negotiators, what we tend to focus on with all of our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques, of course, is the negotiations at hand. It turns out that this is just a little bit sad. The reason is because we’re going to all of the work trying to craft an agreement that both sides can live with and we’re not taking the time to focus on what really matters. What we need to be thinking about is just exactly how we are going to go about putting the agreement that we’ve created into action. How can we make sure that our agreement is going to turn out to be a success?
Take The Time To Plan
Making sure that you take the time to plan before your negotiation will allow you to focus the negotiators on the most important issues at hand and help to concentrate on how the deal arrived at can then be implemented. After determining this, you can develop a thorough plan of action that takes into account the various stakeholders necessary for the agreement’s success.
Sometimes negotiators are concerned that a focus on the details of implementation may prevent any agreement from being reached. Other times, the team tasked with negotiating an agreement is different from the team who will be in charge of implementing the agreement, leading to a discrepancy in what is bargained for and what is actually needed to make the deal work. We need to realize that this lack of coordination can doom the agreement to failure even though the negotiations were successful.
Always Build Relationships
Negotiations are not cold, impersonal things. Rather, they are agreements that are reached between two people who through discussion are able to discover that they both share some common goals. What this means for you is that if you can develop a relationship with the other side it implies a level of familiarity, and trust, that is both useful and conducive to the success of any negotiated agreement. Not only is this trust essential for arriving at a negotiated agreement, but it is also key in implementation because there is a degree of risk for each party in this stage.
If you can trust the other side then this helps to mitigate risks and thus leads to greater confidence in the outcome of the agreement reached. Though having a past relationship with the other side and being able to trust them is ideal, it is atypical for most negotiators. Keep in mind that not only are negotiators shouldering the interests and objectives of multiple constituencies, but also they must negotiate with complete strangers.
This lack of knowledge about the other side, or lack of trust and familiarity, raises the element of risk for the negotiators at the bargaining table. To overcome this barrier, we need to use good communication as the key to successful negotiation. We expect communication between the two sides will happen naturally once they begin working together. Of course, smart negotiators know this is often not the case and will try to make sure that any challenges with language, verbiage, and issues with personal rapport are addressed or mitigated at the bargaining table.
If we set up regular meetings to review progress then this will help make sure that negotiations don’t get derailed and will allow us to focus on the issues pertinent to each side’s interests. Above all, we need both respect and equality of treatment for all parties help ensure that any issues around miscommunication do not escalate into tensions at the bargaining table.
If Needed, Involve A 3rd Party
We can’t always do everything by ourselves. There will be times that negotiations are emotionally charged and particularly difficult for two parties to work out alone. When we encounter a situation like this a third party mediator is needed to help move things along and ensure the success of an agreement as well as its implementation.
We can use mediators to help keep the two parties on track as well as facilitate successful communication between the two. Additionally, they are able to provide resources and progress checks so that each side can focus on the negotiations at hand and evaluate their progress accordingly.
What All Of This Means For You
As negotiators we often like to focus on what we know best: the art of negotiating. However, it turns out that if we are not taking the time to think about what will happen after the principled negotiation is done, then we may be missing a key part of the whole process. Making sure that the agreement that we are able to create is something that both sides can implement is a key part of the job of being a negotiator.
The successful implementation of a negotiated agreement is all about planning. We always need to make sure that the people who are responsible for implementing the agreement understand what needs to be done. The key to a successful implementation of a negotiated agreement is the quality of your relationship with the other side. Good communication is required in order for both sides to be able to build trust with each other. If things become emotional, then we can always reach out and bring in a 3rd party to help with determining how the agreement will be implemented.
We need to keep in mind at all times that the reason that we’re willing to work on a negotiation is because we want the outcome. However, that outcome is only going to happen if the agreement can be successfully implemented. We need to spend time planning and working to make sure that the implementation of the agreement is as successful as the negotiation was.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: Do you think a plan for the implementation of the agreement should be incorporated into the agreement itself?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As I’m pretty sure we all know, every negotiation that we engage in is all about information. What do we know, what don’t we know. For that matter, what does the other side know and what don’t they know? We all do our homework before the negotiation starts so that we’ll have as much information as possible. However, there is always the question of how much we should reveal to the other side during the negotiation. Just exactly how close to the chest should we be playing our cards? What should we reveal and what should we keep private?