When You Are Negotiating, It’s All About The Big Picture

In a negotiation, it's seeing the big picture that counts
In a negotiation, it’s seeing the big picture that counts
Image Credit: Charlotte Carey

A question that I am often asked by negotiators who are just starting out is what they should be concentrating on during a negotiation. Let’s face it, each negotiation that we are involved in consists of a lot of different moving parts and if you don’t know where your focus should be, your attention will end up being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Where should your attention be?

It’s All About The Big Picture

Ironically the reason that we have such a challenge during a negotiation in trying to decide what we need to be focusing on is because there are so many options. Do we spend our time trying to understand the people that we are negotiating with? Do we spend our time on the issues that are on the table right now? How about focusing on the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that are being used? It can quickly all become just a bit too much!

The best place to start is to realize that the points that are currently being negotiated are really only a small part of what is a much bigger picture. What this means for you is that any disagreements that the two sides run into, are really just small roadblocks between you and the deal that you want to achieve.

What is going to be important for you to understand is that the path that is going to lead you to the final outcome that you want may not be a straight line. Instead, it may turn out to be a rather zigzag route. This will be ok as long as you end up where you want to be in the end.

Bring On The Strategy

As you keep the big picture of what you’d really like to be able to accomplish in a negotiation in mind, this is going to give you the opportunity to decide how you want to get there. This is a great time to use some of your effective negotiating strategies.

The ultimate goal of using these strategies is to be able to show the other side of the table how flexible you are. The strategies that you use will allow you to resolve any issues that come up during the negotiations. The other side will view you as being willing to work with them to overcome negotiating challenges. The reality is that you are simply using your negotiating strategy tools to get the outcome that you desire.

Often you are going to want to move things forward by giving in on small issues that really don’t matter to you. You’ll be zigzagging because by making these concessions, you’ll really be controlling the negotiation agenda. By keeping your focus on the big picture, you’ll be able to steer things towards the outcome that you want.

What All Of This Means For You

A principled negotiation can be a complicated thing – there may be a lot of different people involved and there can be a lot going on at any given time. As a negotiator, we need to be able to understand what we should be focusing on.

It turns out that the actual details of the negotiation really don’t matter all that much. Instead, what our attention needs to be on is the big picture. The path that we are going to end up taking in order to get from the beginning to the end of the negotiation is not necessarily going to be a straight line, but rather a zigzag. In order to keep things moving, we’ll end up having to employ a number of different effective strategies.

Once you understand where your attention needs to be during a negotiation, then you can adjust how you approach the negotiation. By taking the time to focus on the big picture, you’ll be able to make sure that you are always moving closer to the final result that you want.

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

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to figure out what the big picture in a negotiation is?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Our goal as negotiators in our next negotiation is to get the other side of the table to agree to our proposals no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. Unfortunately, all too often they don’t like what we are proposing and they decide to hold out to see if they can get us to offer them a better deal. We’d really like to find a way to prevent this from happening. That exactly where placing a dead dog on the negotiating table just might help you to get what you want…