All too often negotiators like to think about their next negotiation as being unique. The topics that will be discussed have never been discussed before, the people who will be negotiating may have never met before, and the outcome is up in the air. However, what we may be missing here is that negotiating is actually a process. Yes, every negotiation that we participate in is unique. However, the framework of the negotiation is always the same. If you want to have a successful negotiation, then you need to make sure that you set up the process correctly.
It’s All About The Process
It turns out that negotiators are more satisfied with the outcome of a negotiation when they think the process has been fair. In order to maximize the satisfaction of the parties involved and build a strong working relationship, you don’t want to leave the process of business negotiation up to chance. Given the importance of negotiation in any business communication, you’d be wise to consider the following questions that talk about the process of a business negotiation with the other side.
Questions About The Negotiating Process
The first thing that any negotiator needs to know about their next negotiation is who will negotiate? Aside from you and the other side, should anyone else be involved in your talks, such as lawyers, assistants, or other experts? If you are negotiating in teams, who will be present for each side, and what role will each person who is there play at the table? By taking the time to jointly decide who will be present at your first official meeting, you can avoid unpleasant surprises.
You will also have to come up with an answer to the fundamental question of where will you negotiate? You don’t want to assume that the other side will be coming to you or vice versa; the other side may have an entirely different idea than you do about where the negotiations should occur. Negotiating at your office allows you to be the one to control the environment and feel at ease. But traveling to the other party’s turf can communicate to the other side that you are serious about making a deal. This also gives you opportunities to observe your counterparts in their surroundings. Alternatively, you might also choose to negotiate on neutral territory (such as in a conference room at a hotel) or remotely using e-mail or telephone.
No negotiation can occur unless you understand what issues you will be discussing. You may think that you know exactly what you want to discuss with the other side, but they may have a very different agenda in mind. For this reason, you need to take time to brainstorm a list of all the issues that you might cover. You might also take the time to talk about how you will handle opportunities or wrinkles that emerge during the process of business negotiation, such as shifts in the economy.
If you want to reach a deal with the other side, then you are going to have to decide what approach you will be using. Sometimes negotiators seeking to negotiate business contracts come to the table with very different approaches to bargaining. To achieve strong business negotiation solutions, most experts encourage negotiators to carry out talks with two goals in mind: the first is to create value for both sides and then claim value for yourself. But as the negotiation starts, you may discover that the other side was planning a very different approach to the process of business negotiation, such as a presentation of detailed drafts, an exchange of best-and-final offers, or a hard-bargaining battle of wills. You will need to work together to pick a negotiating strategy that’s acceptable to both sides.
No negotiation is complete without ethical standards. This means that you are going to have to decide what ethical standards will guide you? Most negotiators enter talks with the intention of trying to be both fair and just. Yet it turns out that people often have different standards of fairness in a corporate negotiation, depending on their perspective. Moreover, we sometimes do things that will unintentionally violate our own moral code. Examples of this are by either justifying unethical behavior or imitating the bad behavior of others. If you start things off by expressing your intention to behave fairly and honestly throughout the process of negotiation it will bring ethical concerns to the surface. The good news is that this could inspire all involved to be vigilant about their manner of decision making during the negotiations.
The whole purpose of negotiating with someone is reach a deal with them. What this means for you is that you need to make sure that you understand just exactly how you are going to go about finalizing the deal. For legal reasons, it can be wise to discuss in advance with the other side how you will seal your eventual deal. Does everyone agree that a verbal agreement be sufficient, or should parties sign on the dotted line to truly show their commitment? For a formal talk, it usually makes sense to take the time to draft and finalize a written contract once a deal is completed. This is a good time to discuss how much authority you’ll each have during the process of business negotiation. Determine if one or both sides need to sell a proposal back at their office? If the answer to this question is yes, then you know to include extra time for this approval process. Raising this issue early might also inspire parties to seek greater authority from their superiors in order to make binding decisions.
Finally, negotiators always have to be aware of what their timeline is. Making sure that you clarify how much time each party has to hammer out a deal can eliminate stress and confusion once talks officially begin. If you understand why someone is rushing through the process of business negotiation, you’ll either be more tolerant of the need for speed or you’ll know to look for someone with more time to spare. If neither side is facing a firm deadline when the negotiations begin, you might consider imposing one so that the negotiations don’t drag on forever. In addition, you might want to consider creating a timeline that sets goals for each stage of the negotiation.
What All Of This Means For You
Although I think that we can all agree that every negotiation that we engage ourselves in will be unique, there will always be a process to each negotiation. This process will always be the same. If we want our next negotiation to be able to deliver the deal that we are looking for, we are going to have to make sure that the process goes the way that we need it to go. This means that we need to takes steps to ensure that the the negotiating process goes the way that it needs to go during our next negotiation.
Before the negotiation starts, we need to make sure that we will be negotiating with the right people. The location in which you negotiate is important and must be agreed to by both sides. Both sides have to have a clear understanding of just exactly what will be negotiated. As a negotiator, you are going to have to decide what approach you will be taking in this negotiation. Everyone involved in the negotiation should be aware of the ethical standards that will be applied to the negotiation. Once a deal has been reached it will have to be finalized. You need to have an agreement with the other side about just exactly how this will be done. No negotiation should last forever and so a timeline for the negotiation should be established at the beginning of the discussions.
If you can come to an agreement with the other side in regards to the negotiation process that will be used during a negotiation, then you are that much closer to reaching a deal with them. Agreement on the process should make the whole process flow that much easier. This should free you up to spend your time focusing on what really matters – the issues that need to be negotiated!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: What do you think the best location for a negotiation is?
Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Let’s face it – not all negotiators are created the same. In fact, there are two very distinctly different types of negotiators out there: men and women. This, of course, brings up a very important question: do men and women negotiate differently. If they do, does this mean that we should be preparing to deal with them any differently? Getting answers to these questions could help us to reach a deal in our next negotiation.