Whether the negotiations are about a contract, family-twist or peace talks between countries, people in general automatically tend to start in the mode of Positional Negotiation. Positional negotiation is essentially adversarial; each party sees the process as a “win-lose” situation, each using their necessary arguments to defend their position against attack. A win on one side is a loss on the other and in the end concessions lead to compromise and neither party may be happy with the result. One defense university teaching strategic leadership and negotiating skills uses the example of buying a new car as classic positional negotiations – where the price you want depends upon the salesman giving up his commission and the commission he wants means you pay more. Each gains at the others' expense. These kinds of negotiations rarely end satisfactorily to either party.
Finding common ground
The key to more productive negotiations is finding common ground and thinking long-term. Negotiating for floor covering products from your distributor or manufacturer based upon price alone falls close to Positional Negotiation. But thinking of alternative ways to achieve your long-term goal for that product opens up new discussion points (marketing support, displays, training, inventory management, delivery options, warranties, rebates), etc. More often than not, you can reach common ground this way but it takes recognizing that each party has a need and using thoughtful two-way communication.
5 points for better negotiating results.
Here are five points to consider in every negotiation - whether business or personal. Each point relates to a fundamental element of the negotiation.
1) People: Separate the human being from the problem, leave emotions out of the talks.It is crucial to look for openings and solutions that serve both parties. It is a costly to make decisions on the basis of using power by one of the parties. More often than not, if we can clear the emotion and see long-term, there is common ground – and ways to find benefit for both parties.
2) Communication: Without two-way communication no negotiation will be successful.
3) Interest: Concentrate on your own interests, not on your position, and try to find out what the other party’s interests are.
4) Choices: Create and consider all options and possibilities before making a decision.
5) Criteria: Insist that the outcome/result is based upon an objective norm.
Getting the most productivity, profits or performance from your business is not something you achieve alone. Most companies can’t depend solely upon their own resources and need the help of third parties. Usually this involves negotiating agreements for new products, service or expertise. Whether we like it or not, we are negotiating every day. Using these five points in your negotiating strategy will make the process less painful and more productive.
Ruud Steenvoorden is president of Steenvoorden Consultancy and a member of the Floor Covering Institute.