It really doesn’t matter if you are negotiating to buy a car, buy a house, buy a new email system for your company, or just where you and your significant other will go out to dinner on Friday night. In every negotiating situation, you need to realize that there are different roles to be played and they need to be kept separate. If you are a team of one doing the negotiating, then you need to keep this in mind and switch roles as needed. What are the roles you ask? Why that’s simple:
- The Commander: this is the person who makes the final decisions. At work this may be your boss. In a negotiation, this is the person who needs to sign off on your side of the deal. If you are buying a car, this may be your significant other who you have to run the deal by to get final approval.
- The Negotiator: this is the person who does most of the talking. The negotiator does not have the authority to make final decisions; however, he/she is the one who puts the deal together by talking with the other side. The relationship that the other side forms with the negotiator is the key to determining how the negotiations go.
- The Scribe: this is the person who takes down notes throughout the negotiations. Negotiations can stretch on for hours/days/months. It can be very difficult to remember what was agreed to or what was said in the past hour or day or month. The scribe takes careful notes and makes sure that the negotiator can easily find the information that they need.
- The Floater: Negotiations always require more information than is currently available. The floater is the person who gets things, checks things, and confirms things. The floaters’ activities are designed to allow the negotiator to focus on the negotiations without having to constantly go searching for additional material.
Needless to say, all too often we find ourselves playing all four roles. Just be aware that you are playing these separate roles and make sure that they other side knows this too. This way when the other side starts to pressure your negotiator role to agree to something, you can push back by saying “I need some time to think about this.” In this way you can buy your Commander role some time to make a good decision.