In A Negotiation You Always Want To Be The One Writing The Document

If something has to be written down during a negotiation, make sure that you are the one who does it!
If something has to be written down during a negotiation, make sure that you are the one who does it!
Image Credit: Denise Krebs

The longer that a negotiation goes on, the more complicated it can become. With all of the different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques being used, as a negotiator it can become very difficult to stay on top of just exactly what has already been agreed to in a complicated negotiation and what issues still remain to be resolved. This is when creating either an LOI to start a new negotiation or an MOU to keep the current negotiation moving forward can be a big help. However, who should actually write these documents?

He Who Writes The Document, Controls The Document

During a negotiation, there are often a number of different documents that need to be prepared in order to document what has been accomplished during the negotiations. These can include such things as contracts, amendments, leases, letters of intent (LOI), and memorandums of understanding (MOU). Every time such a document needs to be created, you should volunteer to write it. When you do this, you get to control three different things: what gets included, what gets emphasized, and, of course, what gets left out.

As you create the document that will be used during the negotiation, you will be able to write in such a way as to draw the reader’s attention to the things that you think are the most important. If there are controversial things that have come up during the negotiations that have caused a lot of problems, you can simply leave them out of your document.

When you present the document to the other side, they will end up reading it. They will have to determine for themselves if you left anything out. Depending on how good they are at taking notes (most people are quite bad) they probably won’t be able to do this. More often than not, they’ll see your well-written document and assume that it is correct. Congratulations, you have just taken control of the negotiations.

Signatures Reveal The Hidden Negotiators

As you sit across from the other side conducting your negotiation, there is always one very large unanswered question in the room. Does this person have to authority to be negotiating with you? If you were able to reach an agreement with them, would they be able to approve and implement it?

When you create a document for a negotiation and send it to the other side, you are requesting that they sign it. The signature indicates their approval of the document. The only person who can really approve it will be the person who also has the authority to implement the agreement that you are working to negotiate. What this means for you is that you will want to take a close look at who signed / initialed the document when it comes back to you.

The thinking is that the person who signed the document is the real decision maker. In any given negotiation it may be the other side’s attorney or someone in their legal department which would indicate that the legal side of the company is controlling the negotiations. It could possibly be the CFO which would indicate that the finance side of the company is controlling the negotiations. In some cases it may be the CEO which will tell you that even if he or she is not involved in the negotiations, they are the ones who are really running the show.

What All Of This Means For You

Either going into a principled negotiation that you know will be complex or when you are in the middle of a negotiation that has been going on for a while, it can be all too easy for a negotiator to become unsure of where things stand. This is exactly when a supporting document, either an LOI or an MOU, needs to be created and it needs to be written by you!

When a document is created to support a negotiation that you are involved in, you need to make sure that you are the one who creates it. The reason that you want to be the person who does the writing is because it allows you to control both what gets included in the document and what gets left out. The document will also have to be signed by the other side and that will reveal to you just exactly who the decision maker on the other side is.

Complicated negotiations often need just a little bit of help in keeping moving towards a conclusion. Creating an LOI before the negotiations start or an MOU after they’ve been going on for a while are a great idea. When such documents are created, you want to make sure that you are firmly in control of them so that you can determine both what goes into them and who on the other side signs them.

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

Question For You: What should you say if someone on the other side offers to write the documents for your negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we are negotiating with the other side, no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being usedwhat we are really looking for from them is commitment. Commitment to do what they promise to do. Commitment to continue to uphold their side of the deal even if things change. Commitment to make sure that we get what we want to get out of this deal. Commitment is a very powerful thing. However, commitment comes in many different forms and so we need to make sure that we know what form of commitment we are really looking for.