When Should You Bring In A Principal Agent?

It turns out that there are times when you should step aside
It turns out that there are times when you should step aside
Image Credit: UGA CAES/Extension

I’m pretty sure that most of us think of ourselves very highly. We believe that we are skilled negotiators and that we can probably handle any situation that shows up during a negotiation. However, an outside observer might not agree with us. The reality might be that there are certain circumstances that we are not the ones who should be negotiating. In fact, these are the circumstances when we should perhaps take a step back. How can we detect when we are in one of these situations?

Know When To Ask For Help

As we all know, every negotiation is different. What this means for us is that there can be three basic sets of circumstances in a negotiation where you might be better off using an agent to take your place at the bargaining table. This might be for just part of the negotiating process. The most important part is that you need to be able to identify when one of these opportunities shows up. If we know when we need help, we can reach out and ask for the help that we need.

If You’re Unfamiliar With The Issues And Rules At Hand

One situation that you might want to ask for assistance if you find yourself in is if you discover that you are unfamiliar with the issues being negotiated. Sometimes negotiations can lead you out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory. If you discover that, you’re unsure of the issues under discussion or perhaps the rules of the game then you’d be wise to seek out the assistance of an experienced agent. An example of a situation like this would be a businessperson interested in securing support from investors for his new start-up would probably benefit from having either a skilled lawyer or IPO specialist represent him. Another example of a situation like this would be if a negotiator who has never sold a house decides that they would prefer to have a real estate agent negotiate with prospective bidders and close the final deal.

If Time Or Distance Is Preventing You From Being Successful

Negotiating with the other side in our office is an easy negotiation to conduct. However, what should you do if you are due to begin talks with the other side in a distant city or country, or under a tight deadline to hammer out a deal? When you either do not have the time to meet with potential partners in a distant location or participate in every step in the process, then you are unlikely to represent yourself well. If you find yourself in a case like this, you will probably want to find an agent who specializes in the type of negotiation at stake.

If You Have A Poor Relationship With The Other Side

In a perfect world, we’d get along with everyone else and we’d be able to successfully negotiate with them. However, we do not live in a perfect world. There is a good chance that you may find yourself facing – and dreading – negotiations with someone that you have clashed with in the past. By bringing in an agent before the negotiations start, you can calm tempers and better ensure that talks are businesslike and amicable. A strategy like this can play out most dramatically in contentious diplomatic contexts, such as the negotiation of a cease-fire between warring armies; factions might bring in representatives they both trust to hash out a peace agreement. More commonly, in the business world when there is rancor between a company and its employees over a work contract, both sides may need to employ experienced agents to move talks forward. Whenever you are worried that you will not be able to pursue your interests effectively – especially in the face of aggressive behavior on the other side – you would be well advised to find an agent to be willing to represent you.

What All Of This Means For You

Most negotiators would like to think that they can do everything all by themselves. However, we need to understand that based on the circumstances of a given negotiation we might be better served by taking a step back. If we choose to do this, then we would need to bring in someone else to negotiate with the other side. We’d need to bring in an agent to represent us.

There are three common situations that bringing in a third party to negotiate for us might be a good thing to do. If as a negotiation starts, we discover that we are unfamiliar with the issues that are being negotiated and the rules that are driving the negotiations. In a situation like this, bringing in a third party could serve us well. If the location or the time that the negotiations are taking place are causing us a problem, then we can bring in a third party to help bridge these gaps. Finally, if we have a history of not getting along with the person that we’ll be negotiating with, then perhaps using a third party could help us to get around any personality conflicts.

As negotiators our goal in any negotiation is to find a way to be successful. Generally we can enter the negotiation and find a way to reach a deal with the other side. However, there will be some cases where this simply may not be possible to do. If we find ourselves in a situation like this, then we need to realize that all is not lost. This may be a good time to bring in a third party and have them do the negotiating for us. Not matter how it happens, we need to judge our negotiations by the results that they create.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should ask others if a third party should be brought into your negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So, how is your next negotiation going to turn out? I think that we all go into a negotiation with an expectation of how things are going to proceed. However, could we be wrong? Could we be overconfident that something (good or bad) is going to happen? Could this impact how we go about negotiating? It turns out that we need to take some time and make sure that we don’t underestimate ourselves.