How to Create a Win-Win Situation in Negotiations

A recent article in Busines Insider noted an executive from a world famous tech company showed up late to negotiations wearing jeans, no socks, and a Hawaiian shirt. The major faux-pau by an industry leader forces the question have negotiations changed.

In 2006, Professor Richard Shell published Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People. The authors list fours steps used to create successful negotiations; preparedness, exchange of information, bargaining, closing, and commitment, which I used as a professor teaching negotiations. The relevancy of the components are still applicable a decade later. As negotiations have transitioned from the backrooms and boardroom to the Human Resource offices and home offices, the ability to negotiate successfully is crucial.

The quote “preparedness prevents poor performance” is at the foundation of successful negotiations. Preparedness, today for negotiation, goes beyond the traditional factors of reviewing notes and interest of those at the table. Negotiations now include influences of emotional awareness and intelligence, effective listening skills, verbal and non-verbal communication and the ability to see the situation from the other side. It is at this stage fundamental are established, and relationships are built. It is time to assess if this a one-time deal or someone you will see again at the negotiations table. It is these factors which determine the type of negotiation used.
The next step in the negotiations process is the exchange of information, and it is a dance. The best negotiators can gather information about the other party without revealing too much in return. The key is to keep quiet and listen to what is said (back to those ever important listening skills). Quietly listening and pausing before responding, a tactic that works for every age group from children to grandparents; and everyone in between. With a six-year-old, it is a skill I use on a daily basis.

As the wants and needs are on the table, the bargaining now begins. In preparing for this portion of the negotiation, establishing the must have, and walk-away points now come into play. Here is where the real give and take of negotiations start. The goal is to create a win- win for all parties involved, as it can be assumed, especially with family, friends, and co-workers there is a relationship and the possibility of other negotiations in the future. The negotiations tactics utilized with family are different than those used with a used car salesmen.

Once the agreement has been made now it is time to seal the deal, sometimes easier said than done. The recent merger between Starwood and Marriot which would make the company, the largest hotelier in the world, was approved in the US and Canada months ago. The paperwork now sits in China’s Ministry of Commerce office to review the antitrust law. As the saying goes, it not over until it’s over! With this in mind, a review who needs to have final approval of the negotiations deal, it makes sense to have those parties in the room during the bargaining portion.

It is vital to get it in writing and ensure the paperwork is reviewed by a third party. The deals is done, and now it is time to implement the terms of the agreement.

There are no magic pills to becoming a great negotiation, as with most thing it requires practice to build skills. We are going to negotiation in every aspect of our lives, from spouses, kids, to co-workers. The goal is to use the information to make it a win- win for everyone.

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