Many believe that negotiation is reserved for diplomats on the international scene. But you know that negotiation is at the heart of your professional activities. You also at times negotiate within your personal community and even within your own family.
According to Justice Canada: “Negotiation has been defined as any form of direct or indirect communication whereby parties who have opposing interests discuss the form of any joint action which they might take to manage and ultimately resolve the dispute between them“.
In the back and forth of negotiations, you dance. You take one step forward, and another one backwards. No matter how big the gap between you and the other party is, you rhythmically adjust to the pendulum of your agendas. Possibly with compromises as well as accommodations, you and the other aim for a victory that claims you both as winners, while respecting each other’s’ values to maintain a healthy relationahisp.
The common goal of resolving the conflict with a consensus of behaviours must dominate. Here are the five steps cooperative negotiation to allow you to move from adversaries to partners.
I– CONSIDER A COMMON OBJECTIVE
First analyze the outcome that you want. Detail your vision for a successful negotiation. List benefits for you, your company and your employees. Also list the disadvantages of not succeeding or acquiring. Validate the resources available and the limits. Imagine and learn about the potential scenarios as well as their consequences and possible setbacks.
Beyond your goal, you must also acknowledge your rival’s reality: his needs, his issues, his concerns, his possible losses and gains, as well as his personality. Do your homework. Search the company’s website, its LinkedIn profile. Learn about their culture.
Then the most important part of your preparation is to start linking each of your respective goals in the quest for a common solution. As you negotiate, you will develop new options.
II– PLAN THE PROCESS
As you do with your other collaborations, identify the people who have the power to accept or reject your offer. Their presence is essential. Invite them. Only assign the date or dates, based on their availability. Learn about their roles, authorities and powers.
With these decision makers, choose the most effective mode of communication. Will you be negotiating in person, over the phone, or during a video conference? If you make your way to them, you are announcing that you are serious. On their turf, you will also have the advantage of observing their culture in action. If they come to you, you will be at “home”; in control, in your office. In a restaurant, the terrain is more neutral.
Driven by your respective reasons, detail the necessary stages with an agenda and negotiation schedule.
Also discuss how you will formalize the agreement: verbally, by email, with a contract, etc.
Base the negotiation process on a mutual relationship of trust. First recognize that you have to acquire the other’s trust. The most effective way is to be respectful by being transparent and authentic. Maintain the other’s dignity; don’t minimize or ridicule him.
III– STRATEGICALLY RECONCILE
In negotiation, your responsibility is not to convince but to create an agreement. You want to get along with the other. Both parties must lose to win.
To ensure a fair and respectful negotiation, clearly state this intention before you begin. Enunciating this brief code of ethics will set the tone and will give the desired decorum to your discussion.
Some well-known principles apply to a successful negotiation strategy.
- Ask for more than you want. Establish your utopian ideal while being reasonable, according to the other and their current context.
- The first offer, or demand, dictates what happens next. Be wise and do it politely first.
- Be prepared to let go of something. When you give, make it known. Thus, you will activate the diplomacy of give and take.
- Don’t skimp. Time is your common enemy. Everything changes so quickly. Respond promptly and act accordingly with integrity.
- If you are standing still or going in circles, ask to take a break to reflect, refresh, consult or brainstorm with your team members.
- If nothing is going as planned, if you feel disrespected, humiliated or assaulted, give yourself the right to stop negotiating. Without replicating these disreputable behaviours, end the negotiation by using a phrase like: “I don’t think we’ll get along.
IV- PRESENT IN PARALLELS
A good negotiation involves asking and refusing clearly and calmly, without pointing fingers, grudges, seeking revenge or intimidating. Recognizing the two poles, yours and theirs, state your intention from an empathic perspective. Ask with positive and inclusive language.
Alternatively, leave it up to the other to express their intention, without interruptions.
Subsequently, question with curiosity, without confronting. You are looking for information. You are seeking to understand, before being understood.
Talk less, listen more, and observe, without judging. This emotionless collection of information enables the creation of mutually beneficial solutions.
Tame and get comfortable with silences. Breathe. Take notes. Have a sip of water.
Recognize the other’s weaknesses by emphasizing your strengths.
V – CONCLUDE WITH TRANSPARENCY AND PROFESSIONALISM
Once you all agree, don’t rush to conclude. To avoid surprises or having to renegotiate, it is imperative that you take the time to summarize the agreement. Make it official out loud. List the conditions. Eye to eye, one point at a time, validate. “Is this agreeable to you? Is there anything else we need to consider?” The list of what is negotiated and agreed upon can be made up of simple bullets. As soon as both parties agree, you are ready to enter into the contract phase.
Thank the other. Tell him what you appreciated during the negotiation: his fair play, his patience, his honesty, etc. Occasionally depending on the outcome of the negotiation and especially according to the reaction of the other, it may be quite appropriate to celebrate. If celebrating, make sure to invite all the collaborators, all who have contributed to the success of the negotiation, even those behind the scenes.
Lastly, leave it to the experts to formalize the document.
Since you often negotiate with the same people, once the negotiation is over and the deal is sealed, demonstrate integrity and honesty. Honour your words and actions. The business world is very small and breaking these rules could haunt your reputation and negatively impact your next negotiation before you have even said one word.
Published The référence l’Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines du Québec Octobre 2020 (c) Julie Blais Comeau