Negotiate and Influence!

Negotiation is a daily activity!

Most people often think that negotiation is for the boardrooms and formal meetings. But think of how often you are actually negotiating and influencing or being influenced by others:

  1. Dealing with contractors that visit your house;
  2. Flea market shopping and negotiating a good deal;
  3. Deciding where to go out / what to eat and influencing your family and friends;
  4. Deciding what movie or television channel to watch or
  5. Who gets to watch certain movies at certain time slots!

In essence, every situation involving human needs should be considered negotiable to some extent. So it makes sense that we improve our skills of negotiation.

A six-step process

The negotiation process may be summarised within six steps as follows:

Step 1: Preparation and Planning.

Step 2: Opening the Negotiation.

Step 3: Conducting the Negotiation.

Step 4: Consider Alternatives.

Step 5: Close the Negotiation.

Step 6: Follow up actions.

 

Step 1: Preparation and Planning

Within this step you want to know everything about:

  1. The person you are dealing with;
  2. The history of the situation;
  3. The environment you are dealing with;
  4. The context of this matter – why did it come up?

 

Your planning could include the following:

  1. Setting an objective for the negotiation – what do you want to achieve? Perhaps you are meeting with your landlord and wish to negotiate a lower rental increase?
  2. Work out the range of values that can be discussed: Ideal, realistic and a fall-back position.
  3. Understand the values of the person you are dealing with. As an example, is your Landlord a difficult, money conscious person, or are they flexible enough to consider alternatives.
  4. Consider the best time; location and mode of meeting (in-person; phone-call; email)
  5. Think of whether or not you require recording equipment; witnesses or additional people to be invited to the meeting.

 

Step 2: Opening the Negotiation.

A formal negotiation follows the same format as a normal business meeting.

This means that you need to have:

  1. An agenda circulated before the meeting;
  2. Send out pre-reading if required with maps and directions to the meeting;
  3. Have refreshments on hand and
  4. Allocate the role of minute taker to one person.

 

Step 3: Conducting the Negotiation.

This involves a process of

  1. Exploring the positions of both parties.
  2. Finding commonality.
  3. Identifying any “non-negotiable issues!”
  4. Confirming common and different value systems.
  5. Presenting and discussing various options.
  6. Selecting the best option.

 

Step 4: Consider Alternatives.

During this stage:

Do:

  1. Ask questions and stay focused on the issues and objective to be achieved.
  2. Gain concessions: “If you, then I…”
  3. Build on established common ground.
  4. Take time to think.

 

Don’t:

  1. Threaten and use sarcasm.
  2. Lose focus and become defensive.
  3. Force decisions pre-maturely.

 

Step 5: Close the Negotiation.

Watch for signals that indicate that both parties are happy to move toward closing. Typical signs include:

  1. Nodding head;
  2. Relaxed body;
  3. Smiling and joking;
  4. Using words such as, ‘This is good.” or “I see a lot of potential for us working together.”

 

Step 6: Follow up actions.

The best of negotiations can fail because the action points as discussed within the meeting were not followed up on time. This results in loss of trust and the negotiation starts from scratch again.

To avoid this happening consider the points below.

Do:

  1. Send minutes of meetings / action steps required with deadline dates.
  2. Stay committed to completing outcomes set.
  3. If relevant, inform other parties of the outcome reached if it involves them as well.

 

Don’t:

  1. Forget to follow up.
  2. Miss deadlines that were agreed upon.

 

In summary:

Negotiation is about:

  1. Having a co-operative spirit!
  2. Knowing what you are dealing with – and this means doing adequate preparation.
  3. Having a keen interest in others so that you can look for win-win solutions.
  4. Laying the foundation for a negotiation with trust and and mutual respect.

Lastly, find every opportunity to negotiate – you are presented with one, every day!

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