Negotiating Is All About Satisfaction

When negotiating, there is no guarantee of satisfaction
When negotiating, there is no guarantee of satisfaction
Image Credit: StephenMitchell

So just exactly what is the goal of your next negotiation going to be? Sure, after all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques are over and done with you’d like to be able to walk away from the bargaining table with the deal that you are looking for, but what is it going to take in order to make that happen? In order for any negotiation to be considered a success, it turns out that the other side is going to have to be satisfied with the results of the negotiation. Now just exactly how are you going to make sure that this happens?

It’s All About Satisfaction

Just what it takes to have both sides walk away from a negotiation feeling good about what just happened is something that has been extensively studied. The results of all of these studies has shown that the satisfaction (or for that matter the dissatisfaction) that we get out of a negotiation can be directly related to what our expectations were going into the negotiations. It turns out that this is a critical factor in making a negotiation be successful.

What this means for you as a negotiator is that you need to take the time to make sure that you fully understand the other side’s expectations when they come into a negotiation. If they have, in your opinion, unrealistic expectations for what they can get out of the negotiations you need to be aware of this. If the negotiations start out with the other side having unrealistic expectations then what’s going to happen during the negotiations is that the gap between what they want and what they are actually going to get is going to get bigger and bigger. Ultimately this can lead to deadlock and that means that you’ve wasted your time in getting to this point.

So how do we deal with the situation where the other side has the wrong expectations for the negotiation that we are preparing to have with them? What we need to do is to correct their mistaken assumptions as quickly as possible. There are a number of different ways to go about doing this. You want to provide them with information that explains what the real situation is. You can choose to do this either directly or indirectly through a 3ed party. You need to get their mind set prepared to have a useful negotiation with you.

The Tactic Of Lowballing

Try as you might, there is always the possibility that the other side is going to show up for your next negotiation with an inflated notion about what they are going to get out of this negotiation. What are you going to do in this situation? The first thing that you need to do is to realize that they have an incorrect set of expectations. The next thing that you are probably going to be tempted to do is to provide them with a lowball offer in order to try to fix this problem.

So what will happen when you make a lowball offer to the other side? The first thing will be that the other side will experience a sense of shock – this is not what they were expecting. They may get up and leave. However, they may also decide that they don’t have a lot of other offers and since they have already come to the table with you they should continue. Making a lowball offer can help to reset the other side’s expectations. However, it may also end up tarnishing your reputation with them. You’ll need to make sure that you provide the other side with facts that back up why you are making the lowball offer.

We all need to be aware that there is another side to lowballing just in case it gets used against us. This is the situation where we arrive at a negotiation with expectations of paying one price only to discover that the other side is willing to offer us that price only if we make other purchases also. When we sit down and run the numbers, we’ll often discover that the total purchase price turns out to be greater than the normal price for what we were planning on negotiating for. This is an underhanded use of lowballing and we need to aware of it and not get fooled by it.

What All Of This Means For You

If you are going to take the time to participate in a principled negotiation then you want it to provide you with the results that you are looking for. It turns out that the other side has the exact same desires. In order to make sure that both parties walk away from the table feeling good about what has been accomplished, you need to make sure that they feel satisfied.

Your goal is to provide everyone with a sense of satisfaction. A big part of being able to make this happen is to make sure that the other side shows up with a reasonable set of expectations. If they don’t have reasonable assumptions, it’s your responsibility to clearly communicate to them what they can expect from the negotiations. If they show up to negotiate with unreasonable expectations then one thing that you can do is make a lowball offer to them in order to level set their expectations. This may surprise them, but they’ll stay in the negotiations if they think that they can reach a deal with you.

Satisfaction is a goal in any negotiation. How to make it happen is a difficult and customizable thing. We need to take the time to understand what the other sides expectations coming into our next negotiation are. By doing this we can make sure that they line up with what our expectations are and when we do this, we can ensure that both sides have the chance to leave the negotiations feeling satisfied.

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

Question For You: During a negotiation, what is the best way to measure the current level of satisfaction that the other side is feeling?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So what’s the key to conducting a successful negotiation? Is it knowing the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that you are going to need to get what you want? Is it making sure that you have all of the time in the world so that you can wait the other side out? It turns out that the answer to this question is none of these. Instead, the correct answer is something much simpler: you need to have the right information in order to get the deal that you want.