From a high level, the art of negotiating looks pretty easy: all you have to do is to use your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to get the other side to say “yes” to whatever you have proposed to them. As we all know, when you get closer to ground level, this negotiating stuff can become quite difficult to do. However, our goal remains pretty much the same: we want the other side to agree with the proposal that we have presented them with. Just exactly how can we go about making this happen?
The Challenge Of Getting The Other Side To Say “Yes”
What negotiators need to understand about the art of getting the other side to say yes to your proposal is that it’s really all about mutual-gains negotiation, or integrative negotiation. Negotiators generally don’t have to choose between either waging a strictly competitive, win-lose negotiation battle or caving in to avoid conflict. Instead, negotiators can and should look for negotiation strategies that can help both sides get more of what they want. By taking the time to listen closely to each other, treating each other fairly, and jointly exploring options to increase value, negotiators can find ways of getting to yes that reduce the need to rely on hard-bargaining tactics and unnecessary concessions.
Steps To Getting To “Yes”
The first thing that negotiators need to learn how to do is to separate the people from the problem. In our negotiation, it’s easy to forget that the other side has feelings, opinions, values, and unique backgrounds that contribute to what they do and say during talks. When misunderstandings and conflict arise in negotiation, we need to first deal with the “people problem” directly rather than trying to gloss over it with concessions. You need to strive to imagine the situation from the other side’s viewpoint. If someone is refusing to back down from a hardline position, ask them how they think things are going. Exploring each side’s perceptions openly and avoiding the tendency to blame are key negotiation skills that we all need to develop.
If you want the other side to say “yes” to your proposal, then you are going to have to focus on interests, not positions. We negotiators tend to begin our negotiation by stating our positions. When we stake out firm positions, we set ourselves up for impasse in the negotiation. In our goal of getting to yes, we need to draw out the interests underlying the other side’s positions by asking questions. By identifying what interests are motivating the other side, and sharing your own interests, you can open up opportunities to explore tradeoffs across issues and increase your odds of getting to yes.
Although any negotiation can become heated, we need to learn to manage our emotions. Be sure that you and the other side have ample opportunities to express and discuss any strong emotions related to your negotiation. Allowing one another to speak their mind will benefit both sides. Freed from the burden of unexpressed emotions negotiators will become more likely to work on the problem.
How the other side feels about the negotiation is a critical part of getting them to say “yes”. What this means for you is that you need to learn how to express appreciation. No one likes to feel unappreciated, and this is particularly true in a negotiation. As negotiators, what we need to be doing is to express appreciation by working to understand the other side’s perspective, seeking merit in that perspective, and communicating understanding through words and actions—all of which are critical negotiation skills.
Finally, it is always going to be important for us to find ways to put a positive spin on our message. It should go without saying that communicating in a positive way is a much more effective means of getting to yes than blaming and criticizing. One way to do this is instead of speaking on behalf of your group, speak only for yourself.
What All Of This Means For You
The goal of any principled negotiation that we find ourselves involved in is to get the other side to say “yes” to our proposal. This is not always an easy thing to do with all of the emotions and other things that can enter into a negotiation. However, the good news is that it can be done, we just need to understand what it is going to take in order to make it happen in our next negotiation.
In order to move the other side closer to saying “yes” to your proposal, the first thing that you are going to want to do is to take the time to separate the people from the problem. Next you are going to want to make sure that the negotiation focuses on the interests, not the positions. No matter what direction the negotiations head in, we need to learn how best to manage our emotions. As a negotiator, you are going to have to learn how to express appreciation for the other side and their position. Getting to “yes” can be made easier if you can learn to put a positive spin on the message that you are delivering.
The outcome of a negotiation is what really matters. We want to be able to get what we came looking for. In order to make that happen, the other side has to be willing to go along with what we have proposed to them. They have to say “yes”. We can make this happen. We just need to understand the steps that we’ll have to go through in order to get to the “yes” that we are looking for.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: If you become angry during a negotiation, do you think that you should take a break or keep on negotiating?
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