Negotiation is all about reaching an agreement that is satisfactory to all parties. That should always be your primary focus. The very best possible approach is to treat the issue as a shared problem that can be solved by cooperation. Often though, negotiation turns into conflict simply because people are not good at it. Like every other life skill, negotiation needs to be carefully considered, planned and practiced. Just for now let’s focus on the value of collaboration in your negotiations and look at 3 top tips.
1. Turn ‘BUT’ into ‘AND’
Simply by replying with an AND instead of a BUT leaves channels of communication open for positive interaction. For example, can you feel the difference between:
- You need three hours of machine time today but I need four.
- You need three hours of machine time today and I need four.
In the first case the speaker gets you on the defensive making the situation a competition. In the second case the speaker sets the tone for collaboration.
2. Maintain Contact
When the going gets tough, keep up communications. Work on improving the relationship by asking questions, seeking to understand the other perspective, finding mutually acceptable alternatives. Remember, communication means sending and receiving information so make sure that you do not take over the conversation. Listen as well as speak.
3. Be Assertive
Make sure that all parties understand that you consider your requirements to be as important as theirs. When you give and expect respect, collaboration follows more easily. Make sure that you know what you want and are able to express it in a straightforward and unambiguous manner.
Finally, let me say, that one size does not fit all, but there is learning to be found by reflection. Taking notes on what worked for you in a given situation is a great tool. Note what worked, with whom, in what context and why you feel the outcome was positive. Use this in the preparation for your next negotiations and you will soon be a Negotiating Ninja.