“What the heck happened in there? They slaughtered us! They out-negotiated us at every turn! Why did we not see that coming?” “I guess we didn’t plan for that type of negotiation with that type of negotiator”, was the reply.
People engage in negotiations because they seek to maximize an outcome. In that quest, some people lose their focus. They use the same negotiation strategies they’ve used in the past and wonder why they get slaughtered when those strategies are no longer effective. To prevent that from happening to you, note the following.
Environment: Know what the best environment is to conduct your negotiation in. That environment may encompass doing so in writing, or phone, versus in person. There are different dynamics that come into play when negotiating in different environments. Know the environment that will most benefit your style of negotiating compared to the negotiation style of the opposing negotiator.
Perception: Everyone has an image of who the person is that they’re negotiating with. That persona is based in part on what the perceiver knows about the other negotiator; that stems from what the perceiver has seen, heard, and thought of that person in the past.
Project the persona warranted for the negotiation. Take into consideration the negotiation style of the opposing negotiator in your calculation (i.e. hard (I’ll crush you), soft (I’ll go along to get along)). The perception you cast and how you perceive the other negotiator will determine the flow of the negotiation. To prevent being caught off guard, about your perception of the other negotiator and him of you, be adaptable as to the persona you project.
Entity: Know who you’re really dealing with (i.e. what force and sources motivates the other negotiator). Consider how he interprets information and how best to message that information related to the messenger (i.e. your persona). Your message may be received more favorably with one persona based on how that persona is perceived.
Leverage: When assembling strategies, assess how you’ll employ the powers of leverage. Leverage is a tool that can embolden you with positional power (i.e. power you have for a specified time), which can improve your negotiation position. Be cautious of how you use leverage. If you state you’ll engage in an action and don’t follow through, not only will you lose the ability to invoke leverage further in the negotiation, you also run the risk of losing credibility.
What’s your end game and how will you know when you’ve entered it? You should develop the answers to those questions during the planning phase of your negotiation. The plan should encompass what might trigger the end game phase of the negotiation, how you might promote it to occur if it’s lagging, and what you might do to terminate the negotiation if you discern that your efforts will not get you there.
By having markers denoting possible exit points from a negotiation, you lessen the possibility of staying engaged longer than what’s necessary; staying engaged longer increases your vulnerability by making unnecessary concessions.
Once you arm yourself with the thoughts mentioned above, you’ll insulate yourself from the brutality that could otherwise occur. That insulation will also be a shield that prevents you from being slaughtered in your negotiations… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!