Are You Negotiating With The Right Person?

by drjim on February 28, 2014

Do you know if you are negotiating with the right person?

Do you know if you are negotiating with the right person?
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Quiz: what is the purpose of any negotiation? Answer: to reach a deal with the other side. Now, if that’s your goal, then no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are used during the negotiations, the other side has to be in a position to agree to implement whatever deal you reach, right? If this is correct, then it must be important that the person sitting across the table from you has the authority to implement any deal that you are able to reach with them. Do you know if they do – are they the right person to be negotiating with?

Who Are You Negotiating With?

Good news – you may be negotiating with the right person. Or not. One of the most important things for any negotiator to find out is if the key decision makers regarding what you are preparing to negotiate about are even in the room – have you met them before things get started? This is the type of question that you need to get an answer to before the negotiations start.

If the important people aren’t there, then who is there? More often than not, what you are going to find is that you may be dealing with messengers. These are people who do not have the authority to implement any deal that is agreed to. Their role is simply to convey information about the negotiations back to their managers.

When you discover that you are negotiating with someone who doesn’t have the authority to make a deal happen, don’t walk away. Instead, use these people as tools. Provide them with the information that they are going to need in order to relay it to their management. Make sure that you don’t make the mistake of trying to negotiate with them – it’s not worth your time.

How To Find Out Who You Are Negotiating With

If negotiating with the right people is so important, then how can you determine who the right people are? In order to make this happen, you need to be able to identify the important people on the other side of the table and you have to understand both their roles and their motivations.

When there are a lot of people involved in a negotiation, you are going to have to keep track of who’s who. This means keeping a list of names along with their roles and any personal information that you are able to collect. Make guesses about the role that they’ll play and update your notes as the negotiations unfold.

Keep in mind that all too often in a negotiation, things are not as they seem. The most important person in the room may be sitting off to the side just watching events unfold. Take the time to discover that they are there and make sure that you understand what the purpose of them being there is.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to make sure that you are spending your time wisely, you need to make sure that you are negotiating with the right person. What this means for you is that you have to find a way to confirm that the person on the other side of the table has the ability to implement any deal that you reach with them.

The wrong types of people to negotiate with are the message carriers. These are the people who have limited authority and who’s only job is to take information back to their bosses. In order to avoid this situation, you need to take stock of who from the other side is participating in the negotiations and what each person’s role is. The real decision maker may be hidden in the corners of the room.

You wouldn’t start out on a business trip if you didn’t know your final destination. Likewise, you don’t want to start a principled negotiation without knowing that any deal that is reached can be implemented by both sides. Take your time to evaluate the role that the other side plays in their organization and make sure that you are negotiating with the right person.

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

Question For You: If during a negotiation you discover that you are negotiating with the wrong person, what action should you take?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Every negotiation has its share of secrets. You know things that you don’t want the other side of the table to know and they know things that they don’t want you to know – that’s why we all use so many different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. It’s your job as a negotiator to find out what secrets the other side of the table has before the negotiations start so that you’ll be able to do a better job of negotiating. The trick is how you go about doing this…

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