All of us have extensive experience in negotiations. We communicate constantly and with a large number of people throughout the day and throughout life. These include family members, colleagues at work, and partners in business. However, we don’t always recognize that we are “negotiating.”
One reason for this attitude is the notion that negotiations can only be in the sphere of business is the so-called “business negotiations”. Perhaps this is due to the ritualistic nature of the negotiation process itself (determining the place, time, and topic of the meeting in advance, indicating specific negotiating participants).
In all other cases, negotiations are considered an everyday occurrence. Such an assessment leads to a loss of the potentialities that arise in the process of any negotiation. And if so, the number of conflicts, dissatisfied and unsatisfied people around us grows. And we ourselves are not very happy either.
How to love the negotiation process?
First of all, I have to confess that until a few years ago I hated negotiations. Yes, that’s right. And it was not only business negotiations that disliked me, but also any other kind of negotiations.
I recall with shame a story: I was participating in an academic debate, and my opponent literally pissed me off in three minutes to the point that I was ready to hit him. I can still feel my rage, and I remember all the unflattering evaluations I mentally gave to my opponent’s mental abilities.
All this “baggage” I carried through life for several years… The aversion I felt to the negotiation process was due to my unwillingness to find out what was going on in the mind of my interlocutor, to understand the reasons and motives for his contact with me and the goals he had in mind. I only cared about my own personal goals. My own benefit was above all for me. I tried to get the most for myself, my loved ones or my company. Nothing more.
You can guess that negotiations, when the opposite side wanted to provide me only benefits in advance, did not happen too often. Can you imagine how I felt then? 🙂 In addition, due to the nature of my work, some of the negotiations were associated with conflicts, stress, litigation and other proceedings associated with negativity.
There was another case: we discuss a document within the company, and several employees take part in the meeting. Everyone is happy with everything, except for the order of stages in the contract. The discussion took about six hours. I was angry and annoyed. I couldn’t understand why someone, being incompetent in the matter at hand, was putting “sticks in the wheels”. To say that I was angry at this time was to say nothing.
Now, of course, I realize that if I had tried to find out each employee’s motives and goals at the time, if I had tried to limit the entire discussion to a short interval, it would have been more helpful.
I suppose you understood that I was a weak negotiator, and the negotiations themselves always caused me stress and disgust. And at one point I was faced with a dilemma: either leave for a desert island, away from everyone, or change my own attitude toward negotiation. To run or to fight.
On reflection, I chose the second option: I changed myself and my perception of negotiations. I managed to do this quite easily. So how did I manage to change my attitude so easily, and even enjoy the negotiation? Two books helped me do that:
- “Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World” by Stuart Diamond;
- and “Everything is Negotiable” by Kennedy Gavin.
They perfectly overlapped with my already formed opinion on the essence of negotiations and naturally corrected it. You could say that after I read these books and discussed their contents with my friends and colleagues, I became a completely different person.
First of all, I stopped striving for immediate success. This brings to mind a phrase from Diamond’s book:
“It would be great if in every ninth game you kicked another ball.”
Moving forward incrementally allows you to achieve more, especially when there are serious differences of opinion between the parties involved in the negotiation. Each next step is like a new starting point from which you build your dialogue with your opponent. Small steps help you reach a compromise. It also allows you to motivate yourself to continually improve your negotiation knowledge and skills.
Secondly, after reading these books I realized that my focus in communication had shifted from my own self to the other person’s personality.
If as a result of contact, your companion will understand that for you it is important now, his thoughts and perception of what is happening, the amount of positive will increase many times.
I have become more attentive to those with whom I personally communicate. I have made it a rule to always gather the available information about a person, his value system, interests, and other things. It’s not a big deal, but it gives me extra incentive to communicate with them as a person.
I noticed other positive results as well. For example, the number of negotiations decreased.
I began to exclude face-to-face contact when I realized that this method only takes up resources, and I began to offer alternatives in the form of indirect forms of communication. At the same time, the issues of such interaction are clearly articulated. The remaining meetings were cleared of chatter, there was more specificity. This is when a friend says that it is time to have a beer, and you understand exactly that the reason for the meeting is his promotion at work, and there will be a lot of beer.
What distinguishes successful and problem-free negotiations from others?
It’s very simple – they are distinguished by empathy.
The most important element of a negotiation is not what you want to buy or sell, but the person with whom you are communicating. You must feel and understand what he thinks, what he feels, what we wants. The more you understand him, his value system and use his language, the more successful the negotiation will be. And success in the negotiation is for both of you, not for one. The main thing is that at least you should be prepared for such an approach.
5 tips for successful negotiations
1. Prepare an agenda for the meeting
Before you begin negotiations, it is highly advisable to think about the agenda and answer the following questions:
- What do you want to discuss?
- What do you want to get out of it?
- Does your interlocutor think so, too? If so, congratulations. If not, it is worth formulating mutual expectations.
I also recommend that you determine the time needed to discuss the agenda. An exhausted time limit is a reason to postpone negotiations or re-prioritize the order in which each issue is addressed.
2. Preparing for negotiations
This stage includes:
- Сollecting and analyzing information on all items on the meeting (discussion) agenda;
- Collection and analysis of information regarding the interlocutor. The more qualitative the information, the greater the benefits for all. You won’t have to engage in verbiage and waste of time.
If you are just starting out on the negotiating path, I strongly recommend that you practice. Find yourself an interlocutor (a friend, acquaintance, or relative) and model different types of behavior.
Subsequently, you will notice: The more negotiations you have, the more fun you will have with them. Consequently, the effect of the negotiation will increase (because both parties will be satisfied).
4. Learn the skill of listening, not of hearing
A seemingly banal truth that has not lost its value, but on the contrary, has only become more powerful over time.
Know how to listen. Let the other person talk. Stop interrupting. Let happen what your partner has planned in his or her head. Listen, note the most important details. They will soon be useful to you.
5. Remember: negotiation is not war
You don’t always have to win in a negotiation and you don’t have to be afraid to lose. These categories do not apply to a real negotiation. The only exception to this rule is if you want to “kill” your competitor. In all other cases, being belligerent in negotiations will only do you harm.
Business is a long-term strategy. In the short term you can win, but then what? Will your interlocutor want to interact with you in the future? In what state should he leave the negotiations to want to come back to you later? And you? So do not create the ground for stress.
That’s why you shouldn’t try to win at all costs in a negotiation, nor should you be afraid to lose. These categories do not apply to a real business negotiations.