How would you rate yourself on negotiating and influence skills? Most of what you find in business leadership books is pretty basic skills. Matter of fact, my now 13 year old had mastered most of them by age 5.
Research shows that leaders who have learned the art of influence and negotiation are much more successful at work and home in their relationships and ability to get things done through others.
There are several strategies to consider in negotiations. Most will be familiar to you and are listed below. You also need to be able to address two important factors no matter what strategy you choose — the outcome (ask yourself what you will win or lose on the substantive issues in negotiation) and the relationship (ask how the negotiation process, and the specific outcome settlement will, affect your relations with the other player now and in the future?).
- Accommodating (lose to win)- Importance of relationship is high, importance of outcome is low.
- Competing (win-lose)– Importance of outcome is high, importance of relationship is low.
- Collaborating (win-win)– Importance of outcome and relationship is high.
- Compromising (split the difference)– A combination approach used in a variety of situations.
Style flexibility is one of the hallmarks of being a great negotiator and influencer. To master every negotiating situation and resolve varied conflicts, you need to adjust your approach to each. This is a little like dressing for the correct sport before you go onto the playing field. Don’t show up in shin guards and cleats for a tennis tournament. But do make sure you know how to play both tennis and soccer well enough that you can win either, depending on which you find yourself playing!
The strategy that we will focus on in this article is the Competitive Negotiation. To effectively prepare for a competitive negotiation, you must identify four key points:
- What you consider to be an acceptable deal. This is your target point. A target point is the settlement you would like to achieve when the negotiation is finished.
- Where you will start. Since most people expect that a negotiation involves the process of give and take, or making concessions, you need to have an idea of where to begin the conversation.
- What your limits are. Think in terms of the most you will pay, give, or allow or the least you will pay, give or allow. This is your walk away.
- What you will do if you cannot strike a deal with this other party. This is your alternative.
Once you get past the opening offers or demands of each side and into a pattern of concessions, any number of things can happen and it becomes difficult to anticipate what will happen next. However, if you follow these rules of thumb, you should be able to plot a successful course through the dangerous middle ground of a competitive negotiation:
Stick to your planned target and walk away points. Try not to be manipulated by the other party. Watch out for the tendency to find a midpoint between what the other party is asking and your first offer and to settle there too quickly.
Do not reveal your target until you are close. Provide minimal information to the other party about your real target point. If you let your target point be known, you will be open to manipulation, particularly if you think you can do better than your target point. So reveal your target points only if you can’t possibly do better.
Never reveal your walk away point. Never let opponents know your limits. If you do, they will try to settle as close to your walk away point as possible. Even worse, they may assume that this was a bluff and try to get you to take a deal less than your walk away point.
Keep your concessions few, slow and small. When you have to give in, do so in small increments, one item at a time. Be patient, and remember that time is on your side. Most negotiators dislike the ambiguity and uncertainty of the middle part of negotiations and rush their concessions just to make themselves feel better about the pace of negotiations.Investigate the other party’s level of concern for the outcome, other issues, and his or her costs of ending negotiation.
The most persuasive and influential negotiators often avoid loud, overbearing or overly colorful styles and instead rely on careful presentation, sound arguments and subtle tactics to win others over. As you negotiate, always keep one eye on the balance of power and the uses of influence. If you find yourself out-influenced and out-powered, stop and seek sources of additional power and influence for your side.
Your negotiating skills and knowledge of technique are valuable resources of influence and power, as are your abilities to manage your emotions and take the high road of reasoned, reasonable positions in any negotiation. The master negotiator is always mindful of power and careful to create sufficient influence to press his or her agenda forward.
By Annette White-Klososky for Women’s Executive Board