Every Negotiator Needs A Set Of Guiding Principles

Guiding principles show you which direction to go in during a negotiation
Guiding principles show you which direction to go in during a negotiation

Negotiations can go on for a long time. When you start a negotiation, you probably have a pretty good idea of where you want to get to. The big question is does the other side of the table share this goal with you? Will they be able to remember this goal throughout the entire negotiation? Hmm, sounds rather iffy to me. Perhaps what you need are a set of guiding principles…

What Are Guiding Principles In Negotiating?

So just exactly what are guiding principles when we are talking about the world of negotiating? Guiding principles are different from negotiation styles and negotiating techniques – they are high level agreements that you are able to reach with the other side that frame the rest of your discussions. These are an important part of any principled negotiation.

A negotiation definition requires that your negotiations focus on the details of the deal that is to be done: who gets how much, when things get shipped, where they get delivered to, terms of credit, etc. At a much higher level, these details assume that both you and the other side of the table have come to an agreement on the big issues.

These issues center on things like how much profit is it fair for the other side to make on the deal? How soon after the deal is signed should the other party expect to see its money? What should be done if the product or service does not live up to expectations? These are big issues that both sides need to come to an agreement on at the start of the negotiations.

How Do You Use Guiding Principles In Negotiating?

Having taken the time to discuss a set of guiding principles at the start of your next negotiation, what does all of this buy you? What it does is to buy you some insurance that the time that you invest in the negotiations won’t be wasted.

By taking the time to establish some guiding principles with the other side, you’ve established a beachhead from which both sides can make progress. There’s another advantage of doing this.

Negotiations can be long, drawn-out affairs and it can be easy to lose your way in the middle of one. For that matter, the other side can get lost also. When you have both agreed on a set of guiding principles, this provides you with a place to come back to when you get lost or the negotiations get bogged down. The guiding principles provide you with a milestone – a point where you and the other side actually did agree on something.

By having this kind of “basecamp” to come back to, the negotiations need never get off track. Sure, they may get bogged down in disagreements over details, but both sides will always have a place that they can come back to in order to get the negotiating process restarted.

What All Of This Means For You

Getting from the beginning to the end of a negotiating session is a lot harder than it may seem. All too often we can lose our way during the negotiation process and the other side of the table can get lost with us. This makes reaching a negotiated deal that much harder to do.

Establishing a set of guiding principles at the start of the negotiations is a great way to clearly communicate to the other side what it’s going to take to reach a deal. The guiding principles will provide both sides with a base that you can come back to later on in the negotiations if either side gets lost.

It will take some time to establish a set of guiding principles at the start of the negotiation. This investment of time will yield significant results by helping to keep both sides of the table on track. Do it right and you’ll be able to reach a deal that works for everyone involved.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should write down the guiding principles so that both sides can remember them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you sit down at the negotiating table with the other side, what’s running through your mind? Are you wondering what they are thinking? Are you wondering what negotiating techniques they will use? If you have studied your history lesson, then you’ll already know the answers to these questions.