Successful negotiation depends on so many factors, a great majority of which are outside your control.
However, the best way you can manage your situation is to manage yourself and how you respond to what you see before you. Having spent a great many years perusing contracts, taking a lead position in negotiating proposals and partnerships, with people I had existing relationships with and those I did not, I have relied on these 14 tips to ensure that I am able to negotiate successfully.
Bear in mind that sometimes, the results achieved were not what I desired, in the first instance, but these results were established on firm and solid footing. Over the course of the next 13 posts, I will share these tips with you and welcome your feedback.
There is no particular order to the tips I will list but Tip #1 : Make No Assumptions should easily be one of the most important tips.
A deadly mistake
In the throes of an exciting discussion, when you are looking at all kinds of possibilities and most importantly, when you feel that you are about to get what you’ve been waiting for, it’s fairly easy to make the deadly mistake of assuming things.
You might assume :-
- the other party knows where you are coming from;
- the other party cares about your position – your desires and your expectations;
- that everything is pretty clear and understood by all;
- that common sense will prevail; and/or
- that the other party will do XYZ because that’s the fair thing to do.
The reality is that, in any negotiation, two parties are usually coming from opposing sides. If you were both on the same side, there would hardly be anything to negotiate about. With that in mind, the other party is therefore :
- not too concerned about where you are coming from – they are completely absorbed in their position in the game;
- not likely to care about your position other than how it might affect theirs;
- pretty sure that you will understand their perspective and position;
- convinced that common sense will prevail; and/or
- of the belief that you will do XYZ because that’s the fair thing to do.
The danger with assumptions is that once you start with one, you end with many more assumptions and there’s a domino effect at play. Secondly, clarifying positions and generally sounding formalistic and anal about what can be seemingly obvious is hard for most to do. They want to appear neither ritualistic, petty nor accusatory in their questions and clarifications.
So, the easiest way to do this is simply : to do it.
Don’t make it sound more than what it is. Use the opportunity as it presents itself to simply clarify. You take an existing statement and restate it in your own words to establish that you’ve got the right interpretation. While this sounds like it might take a while, it can be done quickly and effortlessly. And when you think of the possible consequences if you failed to do this one small step, you realise that it’s far easier to get it right from the beginning than to correct something that’s already midway through a process.
You can avoid assumptions :-
- by clarifying or asking questions about the topic;
- by stating your position and checking their feedback on this;
- by reframing their position so that you are sure you understood the other party well;
- by asking the supposedly ‘stupid’ question. People are afraid to ask simply because they don’t want to plead ignorance or idiocy and because sometimes, its easier to just sweep it under the carpet. But one should consider this in the right light ie doing so is merely transferring the point at which a consequence comes into being. It’s far better to catch this earlier in the game to avoid heavy losses.
Next : Tip #2 Keep A Paper Trail.