Every Negotiating Issue Has Multiple Solutions

When it comes to solving negotiating issues, there are always multiple options
When it comes to solving negotiating issues, there are always multiple options
Image Credit: Rilind Hoxha

Although I’m sure that many of us have heard about negotiations that got hopelessly deadlocked, it turns out that in most cases a negotiation can always be kept on track so that you can reach a deal with the other side no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. The key is to understand that you always have the power – you could walk away from the deal if you had to. Since we never want to do that, what we need to do is to understand how to work flexibility into our next negotiation so that we can find the multiple solutions that will work for us.

Keeping The Other Side At The Table

In order to conduct a successful negotiation, you are going to need to have both parties come to the table and stay at the table. That may sound easy, but during a heated negotiation, one or both parties may decide that it’s time to throw in the towel. As a negotiator, you need to take steps in order to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

Look, if during a negotiation you reach the conclusion that the situation is hopeless – you are never going be able to reach a deal with the other side, then yes, you need to give up and walk away. However, before you do this you need to realize that both disagreements with the other side and actual deadlocks are really opportunities for you to create a different type of deal. You need to remain flexible and keep an open mind when you encounter these situations.

It is entirely possible that during a negotiation things will start to go off the track when the other side starts to become angry. You can tell that this is happening when they start to interrupt you, raise their voice, or start to lose patience with what is going on. If this happens, then you need to start to communicate to the other side that you are flexible; you are willing to search for different ways to resolve the issues. As long as you can keep the discussions going, then both sides will be in a position to remain flexible.

Different Aspects Of Flexibility

I’m often asked by novice negotiators what flexibility actually looks like in a negotiation. The answer, of course, is that it depends. There is not one thing that you can point at and say “that’s evidence of flexibility”, rather it has a tendency to sneak into a negotiation from around the corners.

Flexibility can enter into a negotiation in several different ways. The first is in how you choose to define the bottom line. The definition that you use when the negotiations start may not be the definition that you’ll be using when things wrap up. Additionally, we need to understand that in any negotiation there is both an apparent and a real bottom line. What both sides may see as being the bottom line may only be the apparent bottom line at the start of the negotiations. Based on the discussions that you have, the real bottom line will emerge.

Different kinds of flexibility may be used during a negotiation. What many of us don’t realize is that a negotiation is really an opportunity for us to use our trial and error skills. If we are trying something and it’s not working out for us, then that is a message that we need to go back and try something else. Your goal has to be to keep trying different things until you achieve the deal that you’ve been looking for.

What All Of This Means For You

The wrong way to approach your next principled negotiation is to go in thinking that there is one and only one solution that is going to provide you with the deal that you want. What you need to do is to negotiate with flexibility so that you are able adjust your approach and stay on track.

The first thing that you’ll need to do is to remain flexible when the other side of the table starts to become upset. You’ll need to find ways to keep them talking and get them to calm down. Keep in mind that there are a number of different aspects to negotiating flexibility and each can be used when appropriate.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you enter into your next negotiation is that there are many different ways to reach a deal that will meet your needs. You need to retain the flexibility that will allow you to adjust your position and work with the other side to take new paths that will lead you to a deal.

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to calm the other side of the table down?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So how is that negotiation going? Generally, speaking, no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used, we judge our negotiating success with how the bottom line is looking. The bottom line is more often than not evaluated in financial terms. This is how most of us have been trained to evaluate a bottom line and therefore a negotiation. However, it turns out that we might be doing this all wrong. There are other things that we need to be considering…