What Makes Negotiations Successful?
Negotiating well is a skill as old as time itself. Our lives are almost always made up of different negotiations – if you have ever negotiated with your partner about what to have for dinner, you will know what I mean, sometimes you get what you want and other times your partner gets what they want.
The same is true in professional negotiations too, but the real reason for the negotiation can quickly become lost and the negotiation itself can take a personal twist and develop into a battle of wills – who is going to back down first?
“The negotiation itself can take a personal
twist and develop into a battle of wills”
What happens then?
Well, more often than not, the ‘weakest’ negotiator will tend to lose, but great negotiators recognise that this has turned into something more than a professional negotiation and brings discussions back to practicalities – they think about and share the answers to the following questions:
- What do I want to achieve?
- What is my Love, Want, Take?
- What do they want to achieve?
- What will happen if I win?
- What will happen if they win?
- What scenario would both parties win?
Let’s look at these points in a bit more detail and the required skills:
What do I/they want to achieve?
- What are you happy to give (unconditionally)?
- What are the potential risks of your concessions?
- Do these concessions support your negotiation position?
- Be clear on how these concessions benefit them
What is my Love, Want, Take?
- Love – What would I love to happen as part of this negotiation? In the dinner context, this could be you getting your wish of having a fresh spaghetti Bolognese (my favourite)
- Want – What do you want to happen? In the dinner context, this could be that you want your partner to consider your choice and offer ‘similar’ alternatives – Lasagne.
- Take – What would be the absolute minimum you would accept? A bowl of pasta?
Good negotiators lay these love, want, takes out at the beginning of a conversation – it makes it clear what your position in and what flexibility there is on your position.
Negotiate a return for concessions
- What level of mutual respect and trust is there?
- After telling them what you will ‘give’ them, tell them what you will ‘take’ from them (great negotiators will have some concessions to offer you)
- You are showing trust here by putting your ‘cards on the table’ and asking them to do the same
What will happen if I/They win?
- Maintain an assertive communication style – balancing courage with consideration
- Remember to have ‘positive’ body language, ensuring your words and tone match!
- Actively listen to what is being said, don’t just wait to speak
Problem solving skills
- Great negotiators see the negotiation as a problem that needs to be solved
- With any good problem-solving situation, you must BOTH be clear on what the problem is – otherwise, you are trying to deal with two different things and therefore the negotiation will never work
- State the overall problem in positive terms – stating what it is you want to achieve and why, for example; ‘We want to downsize the FTE within the operations function, in order to provide clearer roles, greater cost efficiencies and increased productivity’
- Then do the same with the ‘sub-problems’
Finally, it may not be the perfect ending to a negotiation but sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do. If your opposite number’s demands are becoming unreasonable, this may be a warning sign. If they are only agreeing to commit something which has been drastically amended for their benefit this may be a sign that more problems will arise down the line.
However, following the initial steps to identifying the problem and the concessions each party is willing to make, you will be surprised how often a negotiation can lead to a win win for both parties.
About OnTrack International
OnTrack International are a global learning and development consultancy working with some of the most successful organisations in the world. With a focus on developing learning solutions to meet precise business needs, we combine multiple methods of learning to deliver optimum business value. Our approach is to work in partnership with a client, forming a relationship where there is a deep level of understanding of what will work best to achieve the desired results.
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