How To Take Control Of A Negotiation

If you are in control of a negotiation, then you'll get the deal that you want
If you are in control of a negotiation, then you’ll get the deal that you want

Image Credit: Faramarz Hashemi

I’m sure that you’ve been involved in a negotiation in the past in which after you made it though all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that were being used, the thought of “who’s actually in control of this negotiation” ran through your head at some point in time. I know that this has happened to me many times. What you’d really like the answer to that question to be is “you!” Now we need to determine how you can both take and retain control of your next negotiation.

Become The Scheduler

Most of the negotiations that we will be involved in tend to take awhile to wrap up. This means that we’ll be involved in more than one meeting in order to reach a deal with the other side of the table. Once one meeting wraps up, there is the open question of just exactly when we should get back together.

As a negotiator, you need to listen to what the other side is saying very carefully when it comes time to schedule the next meeting. Are they pressing to get together again very soon, or are they taking a more relaxed approach? Depending on which option they are pursuing, you’ll have more information about their negotiating position.

If the other side is pushing for you to meet again as soon as possible, then they have just told you that the deal that you are working on is very important to them. This means that you now have more negotiating power than you thought that you did. If they need you to move fast in order to meet their needs, you can use this to your advantage and do things like create the contract to be signed in order to move things along faster. Writing the contact will put you in control of the negotiation.

It’s All About The Notes

In order to remain in control of a negotiation that is extending over several different meetings is going to require you to take good notes. Although we may all be very proud of our memory, the number of issues that get discussed during a typical negotiation is so large that there is no way that any of us can keep it all straight for very long.

Not only do you have to take good notes, but you also have to keep your notes well organized. For each negotiation that you are involved in you will need to have a deal book, a folder, or a set of computer files related to the deal. After each meeting that has to do with the negotiation, it’s going to be your responsibility to update your notes. This means adding dates and organizing them based on what was being discussed.

The one thing that we all want to prevent from happening is that situation that happens when we leave our notes lying around. We’ll come upon them later on and we won’t be able to remember what was being discussed when the notes were made. You can’t allow this to happen. Your notes are how you are going to be able to get the deal that you want.

The Power Of A Letter

One of the challenges of a negotiation that is spread over several meetings is that it can be difficult for both parties to remember where things currently stand. You need to take control of the negotiations and make sure that they move forward instead of having to revisit issues each time you meet.

One of the best ways to make this happen is to write a letter to the other side. You don’t have to do this after every meeting, but after perhaps 3-4 meetings, taking the time to create a letter can be helpful to both sides. In your letter you are going to want to lay out your understanding of what has already been agreed to by both sides.

How the other side reacts to your letter is going to be very important. If they don’t say anything, then you can interpret their silence as being an acceptance of what you said. If they push back, then that’s good news because it means that something that you though had been resolved really was not. No matter what the response is, your letter can help to move the current negotiation along faster.

What All Of This Means For You

When we are involved in a principled negotiation, we would like to seize control and move the discussions along so that we can reach the deal that we want faster. This is possible to do, but we just need to know how to take control. It is entirely possible that the other side may be grateful if we do this because it means that they don’t have to and we’ll both wrap things up faster.

In order to take control of your next negotiation you are going to have to carefully watch the other side when it comes time to plan your next meeting. If they are pushing to get together sooner, use this to drive the negotiations the way that you want them to go. Take care to make sure that you are keeping track of all of your notes. Ultimately they will be a critical factor in your ability to reach the deal that you want. Finally, after a few meetings you can send the other side a letter laying out what agreements you believe have been achieved. Their response will tell you if they agree with you.

Control of a negotiation is critical to being able to drive a negotiation to the deal that you want to achieve. The good news is that control is easy to achieve and using the three tips that we’ve covered, you are now in a position to take control of your next negotiation. Grab control, don’t let go, and see what kind of deal you’ll be able to create!

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

Question For You: If the other side wants to meet soon, is there any benefit to you pushing the next meeting out?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When it comes to negotiating, power can be a funny thing. Yes, generally speaking the side of the table that has the most power is going to end up getting the best deal out of the negotiations. However, it turns out that it’s not enough to have power in a negotiation – you also have to know how to use it. Very few of us have ever had any instruction in how to do this and so perhaps we should talk about what you should be doing with all of that negotiating power that you find yourself with.