November 26, 2018
We negotiate every day. Everything from a pay raise, to what to have for dinner is a negotiation. The only thing that changes is the stakes.
We generally view negotiations as having two outcomes. Either we give something up or we win by making the other person give something up. This is a sad zero sum view of the world. It's the view of if there is a winner there must be a loser.
However, there is a better way. Put your efforts together and focus on the problem. Don't make either of the participants lose anything. Instead, focus on the problem, build a better relationship, and make the problem the only loser.
It's not enough to address the problem objectively. Every negotiation also involves people. With people come people problems that are separate from the main issue at hand.
First off you need to understand the other parties perspective. They might not see things the same way. They might hold biases. Or they might feel like they didn't get to participate in the process and are getting a solution force onto them.
You need to consider their emotions. Let them vent if they need to. Express your feelings. Let them know how you feel not what they did or how they made you feel. And don't react to their emotional outbursts.
Most importantly, focus on the process of communication. This means listen to them and treat them as an equal in the discussion.
By putting addressing these people problems up front, you build a stronger relationship. A stronger relationship makes for better future negotiations. By tackling the problem together you become partners instead of opponents.
Negotiations start because both parties have an interest. They use their interests to develop a position. Conflict arises because each parties sees their position as the only way to succeed. And bot parties end up upset with each other or losing out on a lot of what they wanted.
That entire situation can be avoided. Don't come up with your position before you talk to the other person. Don't assume you know what they want out of the negotiation. Don't dismiss their concerns.
Take the time to hear them out. Really listen and ask why. Explain the your issues while being supportive to the other side. Lay out all your interests.
Once all the information is on the table, you can work as a team.
You can't settle on a good outcome without having the right ideas. Separate your brainstorming from the decision process. Ban judgment and throw out the craziest ideas you can. Then use those ideas as launchpads for refinement.
Try to understand why everyone came up with different ideas. Use these differences in values, believes, and interests to settle on an outcome. You can't reach an agreement without differences. Ebay wouldn't exist if everyone thought their old junk was worth the same amount. The only reason Ebay works is because people have different values.
Finally use all this information to make the decision easy. There is value for sides in every negotiation. Don't make the situation worse than where you started. And Give them a choice they can just say yes to.
Don't take offers at face value. Try to figure out the objective reasoning behind the offer. Just asking about the reasoning makes the other person evaluate their position. Once they are in an evaluation mode, it opens up the floor for you to present your reasoning.
With all the reasoning is on the table, insist on a fair process. Be ready to compromise between two equally worthy criteria. And be ready to walk away if the other party isn't willing to compromise. Keeping a reputation as a principled negotiator will server you well in the long run.
When was the last time you came up with a bottom line? How did that work out? Chances are, you hit it like a giant road block every time they suggested an alternative. You weren't actually considering any offer that didn't first meet your bottom line.
Where did you bottom line come from? Was it from a discussion with your family? Or was it because you thought there would be job offers lining up?
Instead of relying on what ifs, settle on the best alternative you can. Solidify it as far as you can. Make it so that if you reject this offer with no fear.
Take your offer as far as you can. Have another job offer waiting before you walk into a salary negotiation. Make the alternative real. Having a solid backup will give you more confidence, more leverage, and more bargaining chips even against the most powerful opponent.
Just like in martial arts, there is a better way to approach disagreement than head on. You can redirect their push to your advantage.
They may criticize you, attack your ideas, or dig their feet in. Don't get defensive or take an attack personally. Use their feedback to further the analysis of the problem. Don't try to change their position. Ask questions about their position to help you come up with alternatives.
Instead of getting further apart on the solution, be understanding of their position. Make yourself their ally in solving the problem you face together.
A bad negotiation can destroy a relationship. Don't let your emotions flair at the first sight of an unpleasant technique being used. Thy are using a technique because because the negotiation is important to them too.
You can point out the technique. This alone can be enough to get the discussion back on track. You can ask for factual clarification of their position. This will give you more information about where they stand and could make them realize their position is unreasonable. If things get bad enough, you can always walk away. Have your next best alternative ready. Bring it up first. Not as a threat but as a possible outcome if the negotiation falls through.
Don't be a victim in a negotiation. As long as you make a factual and principled argument, you have the upper hand. Facts are easier to defend than positions.
In every negotiation you should address emotions, strive to understand the other side, and use facts. This gives you more than an argument. It gives you a way to get a better outcome in any situation, even with people who are the complete opposites of you.
To make the negotiation go smoothly, prepare yourself for the negotiation. Thoroughly research the subject so you can present strong reasoning for your arguments. Counter them with facts and figures. During the negotiation, ask questions so you can enrich the information you already have and strengthen your position even during disagreement.
Finally, always come into a negotiation expecting to influence the outcome. No matter how little power you have, show that you care. Don't claim defeat before you try.
Copyright © Artem Chernyak 2020