If you think of a negotiation as a process that flows from beginning to end, then the first part of the process has to be preparation. We all know that it is not necessary to prepare for a negotiation – we probably know people who have just jumped into a negotiation without properly preparing (perhaps it was you) and we know how that negotiation turned out – not so good. However, none of us ever has enough time so is all of this negotiating homework really necessary?
What Does It Mean To Prepare For A Negotiation?
I’m hoping that we can all agree that it’s a good idea to take the time to prepare for your next negotiation. However, just knowing that you should do something is often different than doing it. If you do your homework, then you’ll be able to magically make the arguments that you make appear to be both simple and compelling to the other side of the table when you lay them out.
This of course raises the question: just exactly what does a negotiator need to do when they are doing their homework? Preparing for a negotiation starts with doing research. This will include researching both the person that you’ll be negotiating with as well as the issues that will be discussed. Additionally, you’ll want to create an agenda for the negotiation so that you can ensure that everything that needs to be covered will be covered.
Doing your homework doesn’t stop there. You never want to start a negotiation without prioritizing your arguments – not all arguments are created equal. Finally, you need to make sure that you understand what you want to get out of the negotiations. Make sure that you know what your goals are.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Prepare For A Negotiation?
Just like motherhood and apple pie, I suspect that we all believe that preparing for a negotiation is the right thing to do. As we were learning how to become negotiators, this is probably one of the things that we were taught. However, have we ever thought about what is on the other side of the coin: what happens if you don’t do your homework?
The first thing that not preparing for a negotiation does for you is to take away from you a feeling of confidence. It’s hard to quantify this, but the other side will be able to tell that you are not confident. This can go a long way to shifting the balance of power away from you during the negotiation.
Not doing your homework also means that you may end up being surprised during the negotiations. Simply because there is something that you have not taken the time to consider means that you may be caught off-guard. If you had taken the time to properly prepare for the negotiation, then you would have been able to foresee this issue.
What All Of This Means For You?
The goal that all of us have when we enter into a principled negotiation is to be able to reach the best deal in the shortest time. We may try to use all manner of negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to accomplish this; however, it turns out that there is a much simpler way to get what we want. All we have to do is to take the time to do our homework before the negotiation starts.
Although we may all agree that preparation is the most important step in the negotiating process, exactly how to go about doing it is something that many of us don’t fully understand. It has to do with doing research on the other side and the deal being discussed, creating an agenda for the meeting, and prioritizing your arguments. If you don’t do your homework you run the risk of being surprised during the negotiation.
At the end of the day, a negotiation often comes down to a question of which side arrived more prepared. You never want to find out that the other side did more homework getting ready for the negotiation that you did. Allocate the time, do the work, and you’ll always be the one who comes out on top.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that the amount of time that you should spend doing homework is related to the value of the deal being negotiated?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
When it comes to negotiating, it’s always a good idea to find somebody who has done it before and learn from them. A good example of this would be Chris Voss. Chris worked for the FBI and was once the FBI’s chief international kidnapping negotiator, working on about 150 cases worldwide over his 24-year career. When it comes to negotiating in high pressure situations, Chris is the person who knows a great deal. Now the question is, what can he teach us?