You negotiate every day.  When you work together you agree on an end result.  You find a way to cooperate because you and the “other party” both want something the other has.  Basic right?  But knowing you must give to get is a fundamental required attitude in negotiation.

Good negotiation means being flexible not only in the outcome, but the process.  What does that mean?  It means adapting your approach to the situation.  Sometimes being hard-nosed and even nasty is required, but not often.  Most of the time listening and being patient to understand the other side pays bigger dividends.  Good negotiation means keeping control of your ego and your emotions.  Proving an ego point usually is counterproductive.  The better approach is to prove a factual point supported by evidence and controlling law or principle.

Good negotiation means getting in touch with the way the other party sees things.  Their agenda matters because it is a reality affecting your desired outcome.  Know the other person’s likely unspoken drivers by getting inside that person’s world, and seeing the situation through their eyes.  Whom must they please?  What’s at stake after this deal is done?  How will  they feel about themselves?  What do they fear?  What do they most desire from the deal? How will their reputation or career standing be affected by the outcome?  How do they analyze risk?  What concerns do they have about future demands if this deal is made public?  Are decisions made by committee with few being fully responsible, or is one person in charge of the deal?  What advisors in the background most influence how the deal makers view the deal?  Will the dealmaker see this as a business decision or is she or he personally invested emotionally in the outcome?   These are just some of the possible questions, but all questions cluster on this premise: “Know thy opponent.”

This video is just one short pass at a complex subject.  But the basic points are:  Prepare by getting the facts about the case, the facts about the other party, and the unspoken or undisclosed background drivers that motivate the other side.  Research the market, the law, the ethical principles, the risks, and the gains.  Rely on these research points to keep negotiations on track.

Work from objective principles rather than hard positions.  Find principles that both sides agree govern the outcome.

A shoot out or court trial is one solution, but it’s the classical “win-lose” and often it’s a “lose-lose” by the time and costs are added into the calculation.  The better approach is to “control you own fate” by deciding on a “win-win” outcome with the other party before blood is shed.

Finally, it’s not a deal until everyone signs off.  Get the details in writing.  This final step focuses attention on real closure, with no loose ends.

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