Negotiation and deal making is much more complex than many people think. You might be surprised to learn that with any deal there are seven different stages that the negotiation goes through, twelve possible behaviours and nine different sources of bargaining power.
An effective negotiator needs to be able to understand and practice the 3 angles of successful negotiation: Attitude (or ‘state of mind’), Process and Behaviour. For each of these angles, I will now outline 4 key points to help you manage your negotiations effectively.
Have a Positive Attitude to Negotiating
1) Know what you want – it’s important to keep your ideal outcome (or outcomes) in mind throughout a negotiation. 2) Believe you can get what you want – confidence is everything in negotiation. If you go into a negotiation lacking self-belief that will leak to the other side and your anxieties will be self-fulfilling. 3) Be interested in the needs of the other party – if you do a deal where the other side’s needs are not taken into account at all, they will seek to disrupt the deal either explicitly or covertly, even if they felt obliged to agree to it in the first place 4) Acknowledge that the use of negotiating skills is more important than the exercise of power. Again, if you force people into deals through the use of power, they will have no commitment to the bargain.
Understand the Process of a Negotiation
1) What is going on in the negotiation? – Are the 6 key ingredients in place for a negotiation to happen? Which stage are we at? Are we exploring the needs on both sides? Are we setting the appropriate climate for the deal? Are we bidding? Bargaining? Or moving to a close? It’s very easy to get confused – often people are at different stages in the same negotiation, which can cause misunderstandings or tension. 2) How to approach the negotiation – are you adequately prepared? It’s very easy to plunge in without preparing properly, but it often goes wrong when people ‘busk’ a negotiation. 3) What is the other party’s approach – how prepared are they? How do they want to handle the process? 4) Be flexible and have options – preparation is essential, but slavish devotion to a plan which is clearly not working is not helpful either.
Practice Effective Negotiating Behaviour
1) Know which behaviour you want to use – different behaviours suit different people. For example, there is no point ‘proposing with reasons’ to someone who negotiates leading with their emotions. You could come up with hundreds of reasons and you would be unlikely to influence them. What are the other person’s patterns of behaviour and how can you match what you do to their thinking style so as to maximise your influence? 2) Know how to be impactful – behaviour is not just about the words you use, it is also about the way you use your voice (pitch, rhythm, volume, pace) and how you use your body (eye contact, posture, proximity, gestures, facial expressions). Words, voice and body all need to be in alignment or your behaviour will not impact the other party. 3) Use different behaviours at different stages – Push behaviour (which is all about ‘my’ agenda) is much more effective at the bidding and bargaining end of the negotiation. Pull behaviour (which is much more about ‘your’ agenda) is often much more useful in the early stages of exploration and climate setting. 4) Avoid the use of negative behaviours – such as aggression, being dismissive or patronising, or displaying a lack of integrity. These influence the state of mind of the other party badly and will normally disrupt the climate.