Does How You Set Up A Negotiation Determine Its Outcome?

If you make a mistake in the setup, you may not get the outcome you want
If you make a mistake in the setup, you may not get the outcome you want
Image Credit: gunman47

I’m pretty sure that we all think that we know how to prepare for our next negotiation. We’ll take the time to study the issues that will be discussed, we’ll learn about who we’ll be negotiating with, and we’ll try to determine what negotiating strategy to use. However, it’s possible that even before the negotiations start, we may have already lost the opportunity to reach the deal that we want. Could setting up where and how we negotiate be that important?

Think About What You Want To Accomplish

Most negotiators just go through the motions when planning our next negotiation. The result is often a dull, forgettable experience replete with negotiation mistakes that can ruin our chance to achieve much in the long term. Our goal should be to find ways that we can make our negotiations more meaningful and rewarding.

What we all need is some expert advice on how we can avoid making negotiation mistakes. When we are planning our next negotiation, we need to think about what we want to achieve from our negotiations and let those goals guide us. We need to understand how this process might play out so that we can stay clear of making negotiation mistakes. We need to understand that regardless of the type of negotiation, one of the easiest negotiation mistakes we tend to make is conflating a category with a purpose.

We too often tend to assume that a negotiation has to look a certain way or lead to a certain outcome. Negotiators who are planning to facilitate a negotiation should think very deeply ahead of time about its purpose and about their purpose for this negotiation. We might set the goal of making each negotiation transformative to the relationship of all those involved. Keep in mind that over the course of your lifetime, the negotiations that you have participated in could bear your signature, so that someone looking back might think, “Wow, they always seemed to find a third way”.

It’s All About The Room

The setting that our next negotiations will take place in may have a big impact on the type of deal that we’ll be able to reach with the other side. Negotiators have a saying: “The room does 80% of the work.” You need to be careful and not accept any default physical setup. Always return to your purpose: if your goal is to develop a warm rapport, think about an informal, casual setting. If your goal is to encourage people to show their emotions, don’t meet in a glass-walled conference room in the middle of company headquarters. You need to think deeply about your desired outcome for the negotiation and how you can make the room will help you meet that outcome.

In addition to where we are going to negotiate, we also have to think about how many people to include in a group negotiation and whom to include. This means that we have to have a sense of what size group will meet our goals. Is it your goal to have a conversation among multiple people who are deeply engaged? If so, then don’t include more than six people. If your goal is to include diverse viewpoints, then eight to 12 people is probably better. If you invite more people than that, many of those present will become audience members rather than participants, unless you divide them into smaller groups. If you want an audience for your negotiation, then that’s OK, but you need to be clear about what each person’s role is.

Secondly, think about who really needs to be there. On one hand, when you don’t have a lot of people in the room, it can be much easier to reach an agreement. But when you leave people out, any agreement reached may be harder to maintain in the larger community. You will need to be strategic about who should be present in order to be sure that (1) the parties can reach an agreement and (2) their constituents will buy into the decision.

What All Of This Means For You

When we are getting ready for our next negotiation, we believe that we know everything that we have to do. We take the time to make sure that we know the topics that will be discussed, who we will be negotiating with, and any issues that might pop up. It turns out that even if we do all of this, we might still not be ready to get the deal that we are looking for. There’s more to having a successful negotiation than meets the eye.

We need to spend some time thinking about what we are going to want to get out of our next negotiation. We want to make sure that we don’t get the category confused with the purpose. Our goal should be to make the negotiation transform the people who are involved in it. We need to understand that the setting that the negotiations will take place in can have a big impact on the results that we can achieve. We also have to consider how many people we want to include in the negotiations. Make sure that all of the people who need to be there are there and be strategic about who you invite.

It turns out that negotiations are about more than just the things that will be discussed at the negotiating table. They include planning on our part, the setting for the negotiations, and who we choose to invite. If we can take the time to make sure that we get all of these various factors right, then we will have a better chance of being able to reach the deal that we want.

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

Question For You: If you decide that you don’t like a negotiation’s setting, do you think that you should have it moved?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

We all know that there are a lot of different ways to resolve business negotiations. One way that is not used all that often but which might be of a great deal of value to you is use an auction as a part of a negotiation. Under the right circumstances, using an auction can harness the power of the free market to determine what a given item is really worth. However, just deciding to use an auction as a part of your next negotiation will not be enough. It turns out that you also have make a decision about what kind of auction you are going to want to use.