If you really wanted to, you could go into any negotiation with your guns a-blazing and through dirty tricks, intimidation and other techniques probably get your way. However, you would have established a reputation as someone that nobody wants to do business with. In the end, you would have lost much more than you would have gained. Instead, if you establish a reputation as a tough but fair negotiator whose word can be trusted, then everyone will want to do business with you.
Lots of people don’t understand that during a negotiation you are really creating three different things: trust, rapport, and satisfaction. Instead of viewing a negotiation as a “winner takes all” type of competition, if you can view it as more of a construction project, then you’ll be well on your way to being a successful negotiator.
Trust is a word that we all think that we know and understand; however, we are often too quick to dismiss it when it comes to establishing goals for a negotiation. The first rule of trust is don’t even start to negotiate with someone that you don’t trust – without this basic foundation, the discussions will end up going nowhere. Sometimes when I’m working with people who are just starting out in negotiations, they make the mistake of associating trust with giving in to the other side’s demands. No, no, no! During a negotiation you need to be pushing back, working to get what YOU want from the other side. Just about any tactic (unless they are immoral or illegal) is permitted. However, when everything is said and done, you need to live up to your side of the agreement. Ultimately, this is what trust is all about.
Rapport sure sounds like something fancy, but in reality all it is is a feeling that is deeper than trust. You can think about it as a form of being “tuned-in” to the other side of the table in such a way that you understand them. When we are involved in a business negotiation, having rapport with the other side means that both sides respect each other, both sides actually like each other, and both sides are willing to do whatever it takes to make a deal happen.
The last bit of construction that needs to be done during a negotiation is to build satisfaction on both sides of the table. What this means is that it’s actually very important for you to spend some time thinking about how the other side of the table is going to be feeling when they stand up after the negotiations are over. If they are going to be feeling beaten down, betrayed, taken advantage of, or abused, then you have not done your job. Instead you’ve built a foe that will come back and cause you problems in the future. This where the idea of being viewed as a “fair” negotiator comes in to play. When people deal with a fair negotiator they realize that they are going to have to give in on some items; however, they also expect to get their way on other items. In the end, they expect to walk away from the table with a sense of satisfaction that they were able to negotiate a good deal for themselves.
During your last negotiation did you feel that you could trust the other side? Were you able to establish a rapport with the other side and did it help move the negotiations along? When the negotiation was over, do you think that both sides were satisfied with the way that things came out? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.