In any negotiation, the participants have a position, opinion or desired outcome, and these differ from each other. There may be significant differences between the positions or the differences may be minor. If the latter case, it is usually easier to negotiate an outcome that satisfies all parties but, as we shall see, once the emotion is added to the situation, this is not always the case. If there are significant differences between the positions, then the negotiation is likely to be more difficult even if there is a will on both sides to achieve a satisfactory outcome. If there is less of a will to resolve the situation, then the difficulties are compounded even further. While there may be two participants and two positions in negotiation, this is not necessarily the case and often there may be several of each. Typically the greater the number of positions/participants, the more the negotiation is problematic.
Negotiation occurs whenever we try to reach an agreement over an issue or a decision. Situations regarding negotiation are so numerous that often we don’t recognise a negotiation has taken place until later, or even at all. They range from the minor – who is going to make the coffee? – to the significant – what shall we pay to buy this company?
Some negotiations require interaction with someone you are unlikely to encounter again, such as during the private purchase of a car, so perhaps a tougher negotiation line will be profitable. But, and this is a big but, the underlying assumption that you will never see the person again may be incorrect. You never know when you might need their assistance or may come across them again. For example, inadvertently, you may have forgotten to take some of the car documents and so need to recover them. Unfortunately, the person is still smarting from your tough negotiating stance and now has the opportunity to make life difficult for you. It’s human nature to make the most of that opportunity in such circumstances. You can book Anubha’s Session and contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.prismphilosophy.com
So, most of the time, we need to think about not just the negotiation itself but also the longer term impacts.
In our professional lives, some typical business situations that may require negotiation are:
- customer/supplier business deal;
- complaint resolution;
- performance review;
- pay rise;
- product or task delivery timescale;
- work distribution.
We need to understand that the context to the negotiation is key to determining the best approach. There may be some situations where it is quicker, cheaper or less stressful to accommodate other people’s needs and forget about negotiating. On the other hand, some situations may require an entire team of dedicated negotiators. Most business negotiations fall somewhere in between.
However, sometimes people don’t consider the context. They plough on regardless often because they have to ensure that they win the day no matter what the price of doing so. Others shrug their shoulders, do not state their case and move on – even if this leaves unresolved issues with serious implications. Poor negotiation skills will hinder personal and career development. Sadly, many people who do not understand negotiation fail to realise how much they are damaging their career prospects or closing the door on business opportunities.