Sometimes Clients ask for support with negotiations in their businesses.
Often, its a negotiation to address or settle some kind of problem or issue with a Client or vendor.
People often worry when entering a negotiation—it seems like they’re having to go into battle.
“Someone’s gonna win and someone’s gonna lose…I don’t wanna be the loser.”
In some circumstances, “battle” may be a very valid interpretation of the situation. More times it isn’t, but people WORRY that it is.
It’s no wonder. We don’t like failing. We don’t like losing. We dislike situations where we end up getting the short end of the stick. People avoid being taken advantage of, being ripped off, being conned. We hate it when we discover we have been bamboozled. We don’t like to be wrong.
Some people love fighting, just so they can win. They LIKE to argue. They seem to CREATE situations where they can use some advantage to not hold up their end of the deal.
They find ways to lord over people—“Yeah, but…. I’m bigger, better, faster, stronger, better looking, smarter, and I’m willing to ruin your reputation, if need be, to get what I want. I’m going to use that advantage against you: so I get to be right, so I get my way or get what I want, so I can get revenge, so I can teach you a lesson.”
A “take no prisoners” stance.
“I own the ball, bat & glove–so screw you, bucko.”
A direct and specific, or perhaps merely implied, threat.
No one likes having their arms twisted.
Some people give themselves the upper hand by making a lot of noise.
Look at social media.
Threats aren’t negotiation. They’re threats. It’s force, not negotiation.
In my experience, the best negotiations begin with getting clear about the situation, itself:
What happened (or didn’t?) Where are we at the moment?
What do I want?
What does the other party want?
What’s really important to me?
What’s MOST important to me?
What’s important to the other party?
What does the situation look like from THEIR point of view?
Is being right or getting revenge REALLY what’s important? (Often not.)
Given that, NOW WHAT?
Even when someone has the upper hand, I observe that the best negotiators don’t use their advantage to FORCE an issue.*
These people keep their advantage in the background—even when the other party KNOWS they have an advantage.
It takes skill, distinctions, practice, prowess to be an effective negotiator. Access to effectiveness begins in the domain of where you’re standing (not the domain of what you’re doing.)
I find that the best negotiators create agreements in their negotiations that are win/win and allow people to save face.
A tip: I suggest that most people really want to do the right thing.
Operating in this fashion requires looking beyond the immediate situation, to invent a possibility that serves BOTH parties.
Most of the time this isn’t so difficult to do.
It merely requires the willingness to look BEYOND the upset in the foreground.
Using a platitude: You needn’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
People that play win/lose in business (and life) leave a trail of dead bodies behind them.
Lost relationships, lost business, loss of trust, even loss of health.
The only gain is, they get to be right.
“I win. You lose. I showed you.”
Is it worth it?
* It’s possible to create a more powerful context for a negotiation: Rather than merely “who’s right or who’s wrong, there’s an opportunity to refresh, renew, or reinvent what the commitment is. This is in another realm from fault or blame.