If you want to be able to reach a deal with the other side of the table, then you are going to have to be able to present them with something that they want. Or, to put it another way, you are going to have to be able to present them with something that they value. Sometimes when you take a look at what is being negotiated, you may see a number of things that you value, but that the other side may not value as much. When something like this happens, you are going to have to be able to find a way to add more value to your negotiation. How can you go about doing that?
What Are MESOs?
MESO negotiation is a negotiation strategy for creating value with the other side who may be reluctant to negotiate with you. It allows a negotiator to propose multiple offers without signaling commitment or preference for any one option. Business negotiators that are practicing integrative negotiation strategies often complain that although they are trying to focus on creating value, they find that they run into far too many difficult people on the other side who don’t believe in value creation.
By using multiple equivalent simultaneous offers (MESOs), your next negotiation can become a process of crafting an agreement that best meets your and the other sides’ interests rather than a contest of wills at the bargaining table. MESOs allow you to create a dialogue with the other side with which to engage in the process of formulating a negotiated agreement.
This all leads to the question of just exactly how do MESO negotiation strategies work? Often, a negotiator will focus exclusively on trying to claim as much as possible for themselves. Despite the other side’s lack of cooperation, it remains in your best interest to attempt to create value, even with those you do not necessarily like or trust. The heart of a MESO negotiation strategy has to do with making trades across issues, such that both parties give up things they value less for things they value more.
Using MESO In A Negotiation
The easiest way to use a MESO in a negotiation requires some level of trust between both parties. As an example, both sides could honestly and openly share information, or you could ask the other side to tell you what they value the most. You might ask a customer how much financial value they place on receiving an order within three weeks rather than the standard delivery time of five weeks. You’ll need to frame a question like this with care in order to prompt a frank response. In addition, because of the power of reciprocity, keep in mind that you are more likely to get an answer if you have given the other side some useful information.
But let’s assume for a moment that you’ve already tried these strategies, and they didn’t work because you find that you are dealing with difficult people. Here are two less common strategies that are especially useful when an uncooperative person is on the other side of the table. The first negotiation strategy is to make multiple offers simultaneously. When you put only one offer on the table at a time, if it’s turned down, you will learn very little. Now consider what happens when you present multiple offers to the other side, each of which is equally valuable to you, simultaneously. If the other side refuses all of them, ask them which one they liked the best. Their preference for a specific offer provides a clue about where you might find value-creating trades. In addition, making multiple offers simultaneously signals that you have willingness to be accommodating and flexible, and will show your desire to understand the other party’s preferences and needs. So the next time you are about to make an offer during a negotiation, consider making three that you value equally.
The second negotiation strategy is to search for a post-settlement settlement. Assume that you’ve just reached an agreement with the other side. The deal isn’t bad, but you don’t feel you’ve made all the value-creating moves that were possible. Many people have been taught that when the deal is done, they should quit talking about it with the other side. You should consider asking the other side whether they would be willing to take another look at the agreement to see if it can be improved. Be sure to explain to them that you would each be free to reject a revised deal if it doesn’t improve both of your outcomes. Why would you propose this type of post-settlement settlement? Simply because you might find new sources of value to divide between you. Your initial agreement, which confirms your ability to work together, may make you and the other side feel more relaxed and open to new ideas.
What All Of This Means For You
This would be a perfect world if every time that we sat down to negotiate with someone, they were as committed to reaching a deal with us as we were to reaching a deal with them. However, that is not the world that we live in. In fact, sometimes we may find ourselves negotiating with difficult people. When this happens, we need to find ways to reach a deal with them.
One strategy that we can use when we are dealing with difficult people is to use MESO negotiation. This is a type of negotiation strategy for creating value with the other side who may be reluctant to negotiate with you. It will allow a negotiator to propose multiple offers without signaling commitment or preference for any one option. This can allow you to craft an agreement. MESOs allow you to make trades across issues, such that both parties give up things they value less for things they value more. During a negotiation you can make multiple offers simultaneously. Alternatively, you can search for a post-settlement settlement.
The goal of any negotiation that we choose to engage in is to find a way to reach a deal with the other side. When we find ourselves negotiating with difficult people, this can be very challenging to do. Using MESOs can allow us to find out what really matters to them and then use that to propose a deal that they will end up accepting. The next time that you find yourself in a difficult negotiation, try using a MESO!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: How many multiple simultaneous offers do you think that you should propose at one time?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I’m pretty sure that we all think that we know how to prepare for our next negotiation. We’ll take the time to study the issues that will be discussed, we’ll learn about who we’ll be negotiating with, and we’ll try to determine what negotiating strategy to use. However, it’s possible that even before the negotiations start, we may have already lost the opportunity to reach the deal that we want. Could setting up where and how we negotiate be that important?