Why We Negotiate

It is not a question of if but why we negotiate.All of us at some time or another negotiate.

Becoming more effective at it should help you to keep balance in your life. Negotiation is essential to healthy personal and professional relationships. Learning how to merge the wants and needs of the group and build mutually viable solutions is key to a healthy, happy life. It also makes you more effective in business and the world in general.

Persuasion TechniquesWe spend almost every minute of every day and night negotiating with others simply to survive. So it makes sense that we can improve our personal and professional lives by learning better techniques of negotiating.

From birth we face a steady stream of challenges, struggles, and opportunities throughout life Conflict arises as we struggle to satisfy our personal interests and wants and needs in social circles, at school, at work, and with our mates and loved ones. This effort is typically in conflict with the needs and wants of others.

Conflict occurs naturally between parents and children, with medical and legal professionals, government officials, employees, retail clerks and others. The need to negotiate in our day-to-day situations or encounters permeates our very existence. Learning how to better handle such conflict is an important way to improve our personal situation. It leads to enabling us to enjoy life a lot more. man_woman_fighting_sm.jpg

Handling conflict, that is negotiating is actually not an arduous process; but all too often that is exactly how we perceive it. Most people consider conflict bad. The truth is, since we can't avoid it, conflict shouldn't be feared or avoided...but embraced. Living in fear is not living; it is missing out on living our lives fully.

bully_in_locker_room_sm.jpgMany people consider negotiating to be a business or political activity. Just as many people view a negotiator as a manipulator or predator. Few realize that negotiating is not the last resort to resolve a bad situation. It is what causes the situation!

So why are we afraid whenever we have to sit down and work something out with another person? There are four reasons actually and they all start with fear: Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of losing. Fear of offending.

Knowing how to negotiate is less about understanding the nuances of the process than it is about understanding people, appreciating their wants, identifying their needs and learning about their history and what makes them who they are.

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Effective Communication is Essential in Any Negotiation

To negotiate people must have the ability to exchange ideas, concerns, proposals and arguments. The purest form of communicating is a power play based on brute strength. It requires no finesse. Time was when a caveman simply beat to death another male and took the man's woman back to his cave. Deal closed! The message is clear, concise, and unequivocal.

iStock_000007927154XSmall-man_practicing_script.jpgCivilization, A.K.A. socialization, has complicated matters creating a need for more complicated negotiations. Today, inflection, innuendo, and deceit cloud otherwise simple statements. We have learned to hide our feelings, goals, and ambitions. We try to suppress our base appetites to appear more civil but the basic urge to self-indulge is never far beneath the surface. This feigned civility is more often learned at home as a child and is subsequently reinforced later in school and evolves as we mature to the point that many adults are hampered in their relationships by self-imposed communication barriers established to create what they perceive are improved images of their real personalities.
They are living a fabricated image and have to constantly hide their true self to preserve the image they want to project. This is not to suggest that we should return to the Neanderthal approach and just clunk each other over the head! To negotiate effectively we need to understand that we must peel away the communication obstacles the other person has created, knowingly or not, and uncover the real issues the person needs resolved. This means being a good listener as well as an effective speaker.

We need to work at hearing more than what is being said to source the intent of the speaker; not hear what we want to hear.

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Improve Your Negotiating Skills by Learning to Read People

We are all human. One thing we do is react to what we hear or see.

These reactions are typically unintended communiques to the other person as to how we feel about what we have just witnessed. When speaking you, as well as the other person, need to listen. The other person is listening to your words. You should be listening/observing the other person's physical/emotional/tonal reactions.

persuasion-sm.jpgSpeaking really is a two-way form of communicating. Concurrently your words provide information to the other person and the other person's non-verbal reactions provide you with information.

When you first meet the other person, the verbal, nonverbal, overt, discreet responses to your initial casual conversation / small talk will begin to give you a feel for how comfortable or confident the other person is, how interested he or she is in the issues to be discussed, and how you can expect the person to react under pressure. The other person's style, mannerisms, dialect, diction, education, background, knowledge, expertise are often immediately exposed from the moment you begin speaking. Rather than thinking about what you will be negotiating in a few moments, pay attention to the subtle insights the other person is revealing while he or she is at ease. What you learn about the person will help you decide how best to approach him/her once the discussion becomes serious and focused.

Negotiating is a natural process. Being effective at it, however, is not. It takes hard work and discipline to be more than a casual negotiator. Taking the time to improve your ability to be more aware of the responses of others will yield big benefits in your personal, social and professional life.

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Negotiating Tips Learn to Act

Just as mediators and negotiators nurture keen interpersonal communication skills it will help any relationship if you consider the importance of being an effective negotiator at home, in school or the work environment. Above all else, we as every-day negotiators need to develop the skill of delivering and receiving communiqués effectively.

Unlike a postal carrier whose job is done when the mail is delivered to the right house, it is incumbent upon us to make sure tour message is heard and actually understood. Developing this skill is completely within your ability. It's more practice than art.
Being a good communicator means more than just being able to speak clearly and passionately. It also includes being able to listen proactively and to visually observe the other person's reactions while you are speaking. Communicating is more than the spoken or written word. Mastering the ability to reinforce the content or meaning of what you are saying with your physical actions, demeanor, intonation, and delivery style improves the effectiveness of the point you are trying to make.

Actors rehearse their lines in front of mirrors to create the entire persona necessary to deliver the "feeling" behind the script and character as well as the line itself. Attorneys prepare for opening and closing arguments the same way. Business executives review in their minds the presentation they are about to make as they drive to a meeting or sales call. I doubt a minister takes to the pulpit without rehearsing in some fashion the sermon he is about to share with his congregation.

It makes sense as practice does make playing a role more "natural." As a negotiator, you will want to make sure what you are saying, the intent of your words, are actually being heard. Expect to present a number of performances to enhance your communications.

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Silence As A Negotiating Tactic

Everyone is gathered around the table, the stakes are high, tensions fills the air as the other person layouts a detailed counter-proposal for your consideration. What to do. Everyone is hanging on your reaction, waiting, expecting a response.

When your proposal or offer is countered you have three obvious options. You can accept, reject, or counter. You also have two additional options that are seldom considered but are frequently worthy strategies. You can 1) simply sit back and do nothing or you can 2) ask for a break to consider the terms.
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Doing nothing causes a pregnant silence. Often the other person will feel compelled to fill the void. Your silence is telegraphing that you are not entirely happy with the proposal. If the other person offers to improve or modify the proposal or if he becomes otherwise uncomfortable with the silence, he is signaling that he has room to negotiate further. Either reaction helps you decide which of the first three options you should pursue.

Asking for a break is another form of the silence tactic. It also signals that you have issues with the counter proposal. Watch how the other person reacts to your taking a break. If he or she appears anxious or ill at ease, it likely means that there is room to negotiate further. If instead the person appears uninterested and willing to delay for an extended time, it may mean that he or she has reached a final position and it is up to you to accept or reject the offer.

In either case, you have the opportunity to qualify how firm their counter proposal is by deploying either of these tactics. If, instead, you choose from the first three, you lose the opportunity. Learn to deploy and use silence as a negotiating tactic. The timing of your response signals a lot of information. Be aware of what a prompt or delayed response means to the other person and selectively use a variety of timed responses to send the signal you want to send rather than reveal what you are thinking at the moment.

Ironically, the art of negotiating is most required when you are presented with an offer that is acceptable. The dilemma is in knowing if it is the best you can do and if it is time to stop negotiating and accept the terms.

While you do not want to needlessly leave anything on the table, you do not want to over negotiate and risk losing the opportunity to come to an agreement. Understanding the difference in your wants and needs and being able to place these in perspective with what you have learned about the "marketplace value" of the currencies involved enables you to know when you have "won enough." "Marketplace value" is much more than the monetary value of a commodity or service. When valuing something always take into account the currencies of time, convenience, need and risk. Also try to assess the other person's unique/personal situation relating to the item, transaction or service.

Personal need or desire usually enhances actual value and can be used to leverage ancillary concessions. the use of silence as a negotiating tactic can bring out the extraordinary interest the other person may have in the negotiation.

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Negotiating Tips - Seven Basic Steps Before You Negotiate

Negotiation is far more than simply sitting at the table and exchanging proposals. It is the process of working through various phases while you learn enough about the other person or team to be able to engage the other person in a dialogue that makes the other person want or need to work with you. Remember, negotiating is about your getting the other person to do something that you want done. The other person has to eventually be motivated to act. Negotiation is the process of establishing that motivation.

The seven basic steps leading up to any negotiation include:
Persuasion Techniques
1. Identification of the problem. It is essential to establish what the issue is before you try to resolve it. Often arguments occur because you and the other person are discussing different issues or the crossover relationship is not apparent to one of you.
2. Researching the issues. Knowing what the issue is allows you to do the basic research into why you are in disagreement and how important the issue is to you.
3. Selecting the participants. Both you and the other person are entitled to add or object to a potential participant in any negotiation. How the two sides populate their teams usually will have an impact on the outcome. Among other things you should try to keep people out of the negotiation who tend to inflame the situation.
4. Researching the participants. Once you and the other person have established the people to be involved in the discussion/negotiation you need to assess who The other person has on his or her team, why they were added and what position they are likely to advocate. The other person's selection of co-negotiators will indicate the areas he feels are important to his position or the areas he feels he lacks expertise.
5. Preparing for the negotiation. Before you actually start any negotiation take a few moments or a few weeks, depending on the importance and complexity of the negotiation, to prepare for the negotiation session.
a. Separate facts from assumptions. Understand what you know about the situation and what you assume to be true.
b. Validate your facts. Sometimes facts change. Make sure your information is current. If you can't do this, consider the unverified facts to be assumptions. iStock_000001705396-sm.jpg
c. Validate your assumptions. Assumptions should be validated by third party confirmation or simply asking the other person if they are valid.
d. Test your assumptions. Assumptions that can't be validated need to be tested or discarded. Erroneous assumptions can impair an otherwise sound negotiating strategy. Don't set yourself up for failure relying on an invalidated assumption because you like it or it helps your case.
e. Adjust your strategies. Using the newly acquired information, make sure your initial strategies, objectives and goals are still appropriate. The new information can often change strategies and on occasion can obviate the disagreement altogether.couple-agreeing-with-man-sm.jpg
6. Meeting the Participants. When the participants first get together to start the negotiation there is usually a short period of time when people meet each other and get settled. This is an excellent period during which you should take the measure of everyone about to take a seat at the table. Observe who are comfortable and who appear uneasy. Participate in casual conversations to determine the interests and backgrounds of the other person's co-negotiators. Make sure your advocates are comfortable and ready.
7. Establishing the parameters of the situation. Once seated at the table it is helpful to make sure everyone is aware of the issues to be discussed and uncover any new issue that needs to be addressed. If new information is provided or the issues changed feel free to take a break to reflect or regroup with your team if necessary.

You are now ready to enter into the negotiation. This is most typically done by asking or soliciting an initial offer. The early stage of any negotiation should be used to establish the parameters of the situation. That is, the bid/ask disparity between you and the other person.

Each step deserves to be mentally considered before it is undertaken. A negotiator should prepare, plan, and execute on the sub-task or individual step level to maximize the potential from the process. The skill is in the preparation and the art is in the execution. Obviously more complex negotiations will have added steps and a more detailed approach but even simple negotiations can be better resolved if these steps are fleetingly considered before you enter the fray with the other person.

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5 Negotiating Tips to Uncover Hidden Agendas

Hidden agendas are the personal are the private goals and objectives that impact how we publicly negotiate. Everyone has these agendas. Very likely your hidden agenda will be far different than the other person's or even those of co-negotiators.

Hidden agendas are the meat and potatoes of good leaders/managers. Good leaders have a sense of mission, a purpose that garners the respect of others. Negotiators who can demonstrate these same leadership traits will garner the same respect. Just as leaders can impact the outcome of meetings so too can effective negotiator-leaders impact the outcome of a negotiation.

fingers_crossed_behind_back_sm.jpgEvery participant in a negotiation has a personal agenda. Those agendas are hidden unless they are shared with the group and most people don't openly share personal agendas. If they did, there would be little mystery or drama in life or our personal interaction.

So how do you uncover another's hidden agenda? By being a good detective:

1. Ask questions. Soliciting the other person's needs and wants is essential in setting the parameters of the negotiation.

2. Think like a reporter: Ask follow-up questions designed to cross-check or validate previous answers.

3. Feel free to question responses. It is important to understand what you are being told.

4. Gather and digest the responses to develop a basic understanding and appreciation of the other person's perspective, basic needs and stated wants regarding the situation.
5. Observe the non-verbal reactions that may indicate responses that are less than forthright.

Negotiation is far more than simply sitting at the table and exchanging proposals. It is the process of learning enough about the other person to be able to engage the person in a dialogue that makes that person want or need to work with you.

Remember, negotiating is persuading someone else to do what you want them to do.

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Who Negotiates

We all negotiate. We are often afraid whenever we have to sit down and work something out with another person because of our fears: Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of losing. Fear of offending. From birth we face a steady stream of challenges, struggles, and opportunities throughout life.

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Conflict arises as we struggle to satisfy our personal interests and wants and needs in social circles, at school, at work, and with our mates and loved ones. Who negotiates? We each do to get what we need or want. This self-serving effort is often in conflict with the needs and wants of others. The need to negotiate in our day-to-day situations or encounters permeates our very existence. Learning how to better handle such conflict is an important way to improve our personal situation. It leads to enabling us to enjoy life a lot more.

Knowing how to negotiate is less about understanding the nuances of the process than it is about understanding who negotiates, mere people do. Accordingly we should appreciate that everyone has their own wants and needs.three-people-closing-agreement-sm.jpg If we simply listen and try to identify their needs we may find building relationships to be easier and more rewarding than if we only think of our own needs and wants.

Life is a continuum of challenges, opportunities and decisions. Each experience in life, no matter how rudimentary, requires some form of negotiation and provides experience from which we can learn. In fact, if we only learn how to recognize the cues and how to act on them, we all have the opportunity to become experienced negotiators better able to handle life's challenges.

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What is Negotiating

Negotiating is the process by which two or more people get along in a social, competitive environment. Competitive in that two people typically have differing wants and needs and must figure out how to work together to get along. Negotiating is an integral part to any relationship. It may be personal, social, professional or simply a chance meeting on the street.

Unlike bartering, arbitrating or mediation negotiation is the collective process that impacts us in every aspect of our lives. It is not limited to the business or legal aspects of our lives. Negotiation is the base process of people interacting with one another. Bartering, arbitrating and mediation are civilized attempts to refine the negotiating process into a disciplined process.

To answer the question what is negotiating we need to understand better what it is get along with our fellow negotiators; other human beings that happen to cross our paths for one reason or another.


It is very human to want something someone else has. How we get it, or attempt to do so, is how we implement our style of negotiating. We can be subtle, caring about the other person's interest, wants and needs, or we can be self-centered, focused solely on our needs and abusive in the process.

What is negotiating? When two people meet and begin to get to know each other, they start establishing how they will negotiate in the future. In essence, they are establishing how they will negotiate important things by laying down simply rules of etiquette. They learn each other's mannerisms, inflections, how they speak, what they are like. All these personal characteristics begin to build a mental profile that will help them understand each other in future conversations. Negotiating is built on the premise that two people can communicate effectively to work out a disagreement or problem. To communicate effectively we need to understand the nuances of nonverbal communications. Learn to Communicate

What is negotiating? Negotiating is the exchange of unlike currencies in a fashion that motivates both parties to honor the agreement. In this case currency can include tangible and intangible commodities. The age old exchange is sex for money. In the 21st Century it could easily be sex for power (or association with power). The currency of a negotiation may be wealth, recognition, sex, a diaper change or simply peace from a crying child or whining peer. We are trying to improve or avoid some aspect of our lives. It is a composite of needs or wants that drive any negotiation. Especially when someone else has what we want! The Currency of Negotiations

What is negotiating? The goal of negotiating is to improve your position as the result of the process. It is not simply getting to 'yes', 'no' or any solution. The solution is the product of an effective negotiation; not the goal. Being Right Isn;t Winning

The basic answer to what is negotiating is that it is effective communications between two or more people that result in all involved feeling that they have improved their situation to the extent that they will honor the agreement in the future. This does not mean that both have to win or feel like winners. It can also mean that the person who fell short of attaining his wants at least satisfied his base needs from the interaction. Sometimes losing less is better than losing everything.

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Divorce Settlement Agreement

Knowing how to negotiate a divorce settlement agreement is as much about handling your emotions as it is about negotiating an equitable settlement.

This has got to be a difficult negotiation. From the start those involved are unhappy with each other or at least less than motivated to accommodate the other person. Moreover communications have likely reached a low and tempers are likely to flare at the slightest provocation.

That said, there are important issues to be negotiated and resolved so everyone can move on to the next phase in their lives. If there are children involved their interests really should be considered as a priority.

You and your spouse will need to tackle this problem together. It may not be something that the two of you should take on without the help of professionals. No matter how you decide to approach the task, to handle the situation properly you should follow these steps to be prepared.

A divorce settlement need only be a problem if you are not ready:

• Clear Your Head - Find a way to leave the reasons for the divorce at the 'door' and be civil.
• Practice Effective Communications - Allow your spouse to speak and listen to what she is saying. When you speak, make sure you are not using inflammatory language and observe your spouse to insure you are being understood.
• Don't React - Negotiating is about the best offense, not a good defense. Don't lose control of the discussions by being drawn into another argument or emotional spat.
• Mitigate Your Losses - In a divorce there are no winners. Both parties are losing a lot. What you are trying to do is salvage what you can from a bad situation. This is an excellent time to embrace compromise and seek to mitigate your losses. It is not time to be seeking revenge.
• Prepare - Agree on the issues to be negotiated and make sure both parties know what information and documents will be needed to properly address each item. Don't forget to consider addressing future expenses such as college tuition for the children, retirement planning, health insurance coverage, and all the costs of keeping the house. It is frustrating to have to reschedule a meeting because someone forgot to bring a key piece of paper.

Do you need an attorney for a settlement conference? Not necessarily. If things are relatively civil between you and your spouse you may be able to do it yourselves or with an impartial observer. To this end you might consider a member of the clergy, a professional mediator, or a mutual friend.

Do Politicians Negotiate

In a manner of speaking politicians negotiate for your vote. They stand up and tell you what they think you want to hear to get your vote. They make promises you expect them to keep. In essence, they make a contract with you based on trust.

No matter the negotiation venue every instance of human interaction requires a basis of trust upon which commitments can be built. Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussions, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews are all examples of human interaction. Whenever our species interacts, the discussions are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the others.

Therein lays the problem. Politicians from all sectors of the political landscape have become so adept at playing to the crowd that we no longer trust them. They have proven time and again that when they get to Washington they will quickly forget the promises they made that enabled them to get there.

So the contract is breached. You delivered and they reneged. What should you do?

When someone breaches a contract you have several recourses. Some are based in law and some are personal. A politician who breaches his contract with the voters knows they will never sue for specific performance or otherwise try to enforce the contract through legal channels. But they should fear the other ramifications of breaching the contract with their constituents.

As a voter you have the privilege of voting. Actually it is your responsibility. Your representation should be very important to you. If a politician promises to represent you to get your vote then does not do so once elected you should consider the following actions:

1. Spread the word. A word-of-mouth campaign, if it catches on, can be effective in either causing the politician to rethink his actions or come back to the local group to try and make amends.

2. Speak Up. Call, email, mail, fax and otherwise make sure that he or she knows that you are not happy, that you are telling your friends, and that come the next election he will have a hard time getting your vote. The pressure is always on the politician during the run up before an election.

3. Find a New Candidate to Support. There are lots of wanna-be dog catchers. If your politician fails to represent you, find and encourage someone who will to run and actively support this person.

4. Report the Breach. Everyone has a boss. Politicians are no different. Their 'bosses' are those who give them money to run. If you are unhappy with you or representatives performance write or email or otherwise contact the local party organization, the state organization, and the national committee making your concerns known. And copy your representative each time. Do not let them forget that they serve at our pleasure; not the other way around!

We are seeing trust erode as politicians pursue seemingly unpopular programs and use questionable means to secure the votes necessary to get them passed. The culture of backroom negotiations and payoffs is the same old political practices common to both political parties that the American people have come to distrust. This distrust, if left unchecked, will undermine the general public's faith in government.

How to Negotiate a Contract

It is important to know how to negotiate a contract to protect oursleves professionally and personally as contracts are a part of life. We expect them in business but they also proliferate thoughout our personal lives. Contracts can be verbal agreements as well as written documents.

They range from marriage contract to agreements with those who work around our homes. To learn more about how to negotiate a contract consider the following.

Understanding What a Contract Is
A contract can be struck between two people verbally or in writing. two-men-negotiating-sm.jpgTo make a contract two people have to agree on two things - the service or commodity to be provided and the amount to be paid for that service or commodity. If you agree to pay your gardener $100.00 to take care of your lawn and he agrees, you have just entered into a contract. Breach of a contract can result in a lawsuit so each time you enter into an agreement it is wise to consider getting the precise terms in writing as memories can be very 'convenient'.

Establish your Objective
Before entering into any agreement clearly identify what it is you expect from the other person and what you are willing to pay. Consider what ancillary items or services should be addressed as part of the agreement. Make sure you understand your expectations as to who is to do the work or provide the item, when the work is to be done, when it is to be completed, and how payment is to be made and when.These items should be fairly clearly refined in your discussions before you start to establish the parameters of a contract.

Communicate Effectively
What one person says is usually heard slightly differently by the other. The best way to establish terms in a contract is to put each item in writing and have the other person edit what you have done. This way tests his or her understanding of what you think is the agreed upon term.

You may also want to ask a follow-up question to make sure there is clear understanding. Part of communicating effectively is to ensure that the other person has understood what you are saying. Disagreements arise from misunderstandings on the part of the two people. By communicating effectively you can reduce the risk of any misunderstanding.

What Comprises a Contract
To be a conract there must be an offer, an acceptance without condition and legal consideration, AKA payment, established. For the example above you offer to your gardener the task of taking care of your lawn, he accepts without reservation, and you both agree that the price to be paid for the service is $100.00. That is the essence of a contract. If he fertilizes your lawn and charges another $25.00 that is not covered within the contract and you are free to discuss the charge and even the service. If you disagree over the fertilizer you can reserve payment.

You can also cancel the contract but must pay for the work tendered to the termination notice date excluding the fertilizer. He also can terminate the agreement but must pursue payment for the fertilizer through other channels (small claims court). If the contract is in writing and ancillary services are covered, then the court will look to the contract. If it is a verbal contract the gardener may well say that it was implied that he could charge extra based on your verbal discussions. In such case the judge is likely to award a fair amount to the gardener for the fertilizer as the service was rendered in good faith.

Consider Using Experts
If the contract is more than the maximum small court claim you would we well advised to have any agreement put in writing and reviewed by an attorney. Lawsuits are worth avoiding and a good contract may help avoid a frivolous lawsuit as the losing party often must pay the other person's legal expenses.

Integrity, Demand It
A man's word is his bond, right? Well, maybe. Integrity is a convenience to some and obligation to others. But you can raise the level of integrity by demanding it. By this I mean you can establish the standard in a relationship by indicating how you intend to act and exuding the expectation that the other will do the same. A firm handshake, a direct look into the other person's eyes, and a personal commitment to keep up your end of the bargain encourages the other person to do the same.

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Negotiating - A Contact Sport

In our lives we have two basic choices, to take control or follow.

Negotiating is a contact sport. To be effective you must be able to persuade others to listen to your arguments, consider the arguments, and decide that they want to help you in some way achieve your goals.

They do not need to decide that you are right. They do need to want to help you or allow you to proceed toward your goal. In fact, they will try almost anything to win including making personal attacks.

To handle the conflict common t negotiations consider the following approach.

This is simple leadership. Managers must motivate employees to do their jobs allowing the manager to succeed. Teachers must motivate students to study and produce homework and learn. Parents must convince their children not to play in the street, do drugs or otherwise step in harm's way recklessly.

Whenever two or more people come in contact there will be some level of conflict. It may be as simple as passing on a narrow mountain path next to a sheer canyon wall or as complex as working out a peace accord between vying nations.

Resolving the disparate interests is a matter of establishing a commonality of interests. Leaders are adept at forging such realignment of individual interests. Individuals do the same when resolving conflict. They persuade others to consider alternatives in the hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

The Art of Persuasion

"Yes" is what we all strive to make another person say. The objective of negotiating is to inspire or coerce the other person to agree to your terms. Persuading others is the art of the process.

People can be motivated by many things. Simple fear, a desire to be liked, respect for the other person, or simple avarice and greed. Each are motivators in a negotiation.

In most negotiations we assume that the prime motivators are avarice and greed. It is the use of other, less obvious motivators that makes the difference between those who barter and those who negotiate. Bartering is an exchange, typically a fair exchange of like value. Negotiating has the potential of creating value from the process. It is much like making 1+1=11 rather than 2.

Persuasion TechniquesThere are many persuasion techniques. They all play off the core psychological drivers that effect most people. They represent the basic negotiating tools most of us use consciously or unconsciously.

One such technique is the use of classical conditioning when trying to persuade others. The Pavlovian model can be effective. Ivan Pavlov studied the cause, effect and reaction relationship and how consistent repetition of a reward or punishment can reinforce a specific performance. The important lesson is that the subject need not understand the cause but learns to relate or anticipate the response to the action.

A consistent emotional response, positive or negative, on your part can be used to condition the other person to react in a specific way. This persuasion tactic involves reinforcing positive performance such as reaching an agreement with you with a positive emotional reaction.

People want to please others. It is human nature.

If you proactively reinforce their performance when you reach an agreement with something with a sincere smile or handshake or appreciative gesture, you will be establishing a reinforced relationship subliminally. You can do the same with negative incentive such as frowning, feigned anger or frustration. The key is consistent reinforcement on small matter to build the performance pattern.

Like it or not, everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. There is no way around it. Whether dealing with a spouse, child, boss, employee, peer, ally, school mate, date, teacher, banker or car salesman, we are trying to hear that special word, "Yes!"

If you are unable to convince others to your way of thinking, you will constantly be doing their bidding or lose the relationship. Rather than resenting others who are telling you what to do realize that it is your fault, not theirs that you are not more persuasive.

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Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What is Negotiating?
Ten Persuasion Techniques
When to Accept an Offer
What to Avoid When Negotiating

The Art of Persuasion

"Yes" is what we all want to hear. There are some basic situations that motivate utterance of that word:

Seeking reciprocation from a past deed - People naturally feel an obligation to return favors. Do not miss opportunities to help others, to do something for them in any venue. Later, you will have a little more leverage. Besides, it is nice to be nice. People really do appreciate it.

Establishing your authority in one or more areas by being active in trade or professional associations, publishing articles or books, promoting yourself through public service or excelling in your work all lay the ground work to be able to entice others to agree with your proposal when the time comes to make your case. The human nature is to defer to experts rather than trust ourselves. Leadership capitalizes on this propensity.

Persuasion TechniquesScarcity of any service or product increases its value. By establishing the uniqueness of what you have to offer you are creating value at the negotiating able. The less available a resource is the more people will seek it.

Personality matters in persuading others to say "yes". People are more likely to want to say " yes" to a proposal offered by someone they like. The second motivator is fear. In that case they are seeking to avoid wrath rather than please someone.

Societal conformance provides the shelter some need to agree. By remaining part of the herd they are taking less risk. Pointing out that others have agreed to your proposed terms indirectly gives the other person a sense of safety in that they are not granting a non-conforming concession.

While there are many other persuasion techniques these basic tenants seem to be the core psychological drivers of persuasion without the use of power, fear or threats. They represent the basic tools most of us have available in our daily lives.

Everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. There is no way around it. Whether dealing with a child, pet, boss, ally, school mate, date, teacher, banker or car salesman, we are trying to hear that special word, "Yes!".

If you are unable to convince others to your way of thinking, you will be constantly doing their bidding. You will quite likely resent being told what to do. Realize that it is your fault, not theirs, that you were not more persuasive.

Related Content
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What is Negotiating
Ten Persuasion Techniques
When to Accept an Offer
What to Avoid When Negotiating


No matter the conflict venue any form of human interaction requires a basis of trust from which accords can be reached and commitments relied upon. Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussion, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews, whenever humans interact are colored by the inclination of each party to trust or distrust the other. Those who establish credibility and an honorable reputation possess a personal power advantage at any negotiating table.

Honesty and integrity is what makes a negotiation between two people meaningful. Unless they can rely on the word of the other, the pledges are meaningless. In the business environment, all agreements are reduced to contracts and the law is fairly clear that most agreements are confined to the written word once signed.

- How do the parties get to the point that a document can be prepared and signed? By trusting each other.
- How does a couple reach an agreement that will never be documented? By building a relationship based on trust. Without it, the agreement and potentially the relationship will falter.
- How do friends resolve an argument? They rely on the bond of their friendship which is based on mutual respect and trust.

The power of being respected as a person of integrity, no matter the venue, is strong. If you have a reputation as a straight shooter when you agree, when you say No!, or when you bluff the other person is likely to be inclined to take you at your word. That is personal power.

Proactively protect your reputation and diligently seek to establish your credibility not only with those you care about but even casual acquaintances. It is your reputation that others learn of from common co-workers, business associates or friends. This indirect referendum on your integrity is what establishes your personal power in a negotiation or simple discussion.

Negotiators Need Social Skills

Sociologists have studied the ways primates learn. One of the studies included very young chimpanzees and children. The combined group was given a basic demonstration on how to open a device. Afterwards the chimps and children were given their own devices.

The chimps diligently tried to open the devices. They applied their proven skill of random experimentation. The children, on the other hand, applied what they had been shown and tried to open the device with that technique. The children were far more successful.

We, humans, learn through socializing. We observe others, collect those observations and store them away to use in the future. Chimps, on the other hand, attack each new task with vigor but with little application of what they have just observed in fellow chimps.

Negotiators need social skills to capitalize on the preliminary social interaction. Insights potentially useful in the actual negotiation are gathered and stored for future reference.

In today’s fast paced environment building a relationship is often neglected in the interest of saving time and getting to the point. This can be a costly mistake. Negotiators are humans and humans respond to the personalization of any situation. It is our nature as social beings.

Conviction is Contagious

There is great negotiating strength in having the right attitude. To win it helps to expect to win. Attitude counts! Like any sport or other competitive venue, attitude has a direct bearing on the outcome of a negotiation.

Any negotiation, no matter how insignificant, is based in conflict. Those involved are competing to protect or advance their respective interests by depriving another of his or her expectations. Negotiation is the settlement of conflicting interests without resorting to force.

If you are convinced that you are right, if you think you deserve to win, if you know that you are in the right, your passion colors your arguments and strengthens your statements. Conviction is contagious. Others will be persuaded to at least consider your position if your passion is obvious and sincere.

If you have doubts, you will be less than convincing. Self-doubt will undermine your arguments and encourage others to resist and fight back. Before getting involved in a settlement session resolve your doubts and mentally prepare to win. If necessary, adjust your position to be more realistic and, thereby, increase your own expectation of prevailing.

Positive attitude does not come to everyone naturally. There are ways to reset your mindset to be positive and create a positive demeanor:

• Visualize Winning. When considering strategies and tactics before a meeting envision winning with each tactic. Actually imagine and savor the moment of victory. This mental exercise sets in your mind the feeling or the gestalt of deploying the strategy or tactic successfully. When the time comes to actually use it, your actions will be more natural.

• Deserve to win. When setting your objectives and primary goal, test the terms against what you know to be reasonable. If they are reasonable you can set aside doubts that you will be rejected on the facts or "found out". Before the meeting mentally contemplate the other person acknowledging the reasonableness of your argument and amending his position towards yours. Focus on actually convincing the other person. This form of mental preparation serves to establish your expectation that you deserve to prevail, that you should prevail. You are empowering yourself to prevail.

• Prepare to Win. As the start of the meeting approaches, plan how you will enter the room. Remind yourself to stand tall, make direct eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and emit confidence. Dress for the meeting. Pick your clothes to reflect this confident demeanor. Remember, you can always dress down during a meeting but you can't dress up. Typically I over dress to insure I am the power figure in the room. I can always take off my coat and loosen my tie to make others comfortable.

The power of persuasion comes from within.

Silence - A Negotiating Tactic

Silence can be used as a power tactic. If you resist the compulsion to fill every void with the sound of your voice you will be able to actually hear the other person and, more important, impact how they react to you.

If you studiously avoid filling the lapses in a conversation or discussion you will notice something interesting. Others will nervously try to fill the verbal void. It is these comments that provide interesting factoids and give you power.

Take a day to demonstrate this to yourself.

Spend the day not making small talk with anyone outside of your family. When you go to get you cup of coffee and pastry don’t respond verbally when the clerk asks how you are. They don’t really care. They are programmed to ask. Simply nod and observe how they react.

Typically if you answer, they have already looked away and are preparing to ask what you would like. If you don’t verbally respond they will likely hesitate and look at you intently waiting for a response.

They are actually seeing you for the first time; really looking. They will also likely be notching up their respect for you. The unknown or unpredictable is always note worthy. This simple change in the typical protocol of social interaction has elevated you with the power of mystery. Do this all day long and observe how differentially you are treated by clerks, peers and even your supervisors.

Your silence denotes confidence, control and focus. It can be very intimidating.

In a negotiation you can and should use silence the same way. When entering the room and everyone is shaking hands and discussing the weather try stand slightly apart and silent. When people greet you, simply nod. Take a seat while others are still standing and shuffle through your papers.

Note how the others begin to react to you. Typically your opponents will become more wary having taken note of your serious demeanor, your sense of purpose, and your self confidence. They may even try to reach out to you to break the silence.

You are having an impact on them. That is the genesis of informal leadership power.

Language of a Negotiation

The language of a negotiation is a complicated smorgasbord of sounds, words and non-verbal signatures. Language, the proper use of it, is more than words or sounds in a negotiation. It is the meaning behind them that reveals the real meaning of the speaker. A lion or gorilla voice their intent to wreak havoc to make their prey cower or run. They know it is easier to bring down a large prey who has turned his back in fear. Were the elephant not to turn away, he would be a good contender and likely the lion would walk away rather than chance being crushed under the elephant's hoove.

When you are negotiating, having almost any conversation with anyone else, it is not your words that are being listened to as much as how you are phrasing them and the intonation of your delivery. And we, as adept social animals, often hide our true meaning with oblique comments and inflections so as not to expose ourselves unnecessarily.

The equation is simple: Language + Delivery = Intent x Obfuscation.

Delivery of an low-ball offer or seemingly unreasonable proposal along with a humorous inflection can be shrugged off as a joke if it is received and rejected out of hand. On the other hand, if it is not rejected but countered then you have a meaningful bid-ask situation and stand the chance of securing an agreement on attractive terms. The use of diametrically opposed inflection to provide cover when the message is substantially different then the other person expects is a calculated negotiating tactic. And it works!

As the recipient of such an offer understand the intent. The person using humor as a delivery tactic is likely fishing to see how you will react. By listening to the meaning behind the words, you will be better able to respond strategically rather than emotionally. If the offer is ridiculously low, you can choose to walk away or respond. If you are serious about making a deal, an effective response would be to calmly inform the other party of the value of the commodity, the basis for that valuation and ask them to reconsider their offer and do better. What you have done is delivered the message that you are informed; that you know the value of the commodity; that you are not desperate; and, that you are serious about reaching an agreement; if they are.

Recently when negotiating for a property in Beverly Hills, the other person threw out some obscenely high comparables. The numbers were astronomical. He did not say that he expected us to pay that amount. He did say that is what "others" were getting. My response was a civil recap of actual comps for like property and the flaws his site had as compared to them. Much later, after he had done his research (validating the information I had provided him), we were able to reach an accord. Had I simply reacted to his initial overture assuming he was serious, we would likely have parted company on the spot.

Learn to listen and observe and then, most important, think about the information you have just gathered before reacting.

Socializing is Part of a Negotiation

Sociologists have studied the ways primates learn. One of the studies included very young chimpanzees and children. The combined group was given a basic demonstration on how to open a device. Afterwards the chimps and children were given their own devices.

The chimps diligently tried to open the devices. They applied their proven skill of random experimentation. The children, on the other hand, applied what they had been shown and tried to open the device with that technique. The children were far more successful.

We, humans, learn through socializing. We observe others, collect those observations and store them away to use in the future. Chimps, on the other hand, attack each new task with vigor but with little application of what they have just observed.

Negotiators must develop the social skills to promote social interaction as part of the early negotiating process. From this interaction will come insights useful in the actual negotiation discussion. In today’s fast paced environment, too often building a relationship is omitted in the interest of saving time and getting to the point. This can be a costly strategic error.

Group Dynamics in Negotiations

People seldom act alone. Everyone has a group of associates or family members that need to be at the least informed of important decisions before a commitment is made. More often, prior approval is needed. This approval may be from a family member to keep the peace at home or from a corporate superior or oversight committee having the actual authority to bind the company.

When the group is involved in the negotiation process becomes much more challenging. The group has its own structure and objectives. Individual members of the group will typically have differing personal objectives and opinions. The negotiators challenge is to decipher the leaders in the group and the protagonists. Each will have to be dealt with to achieve an agreement that will survive the test of time.

The best way to find the decision makers or leaders within an opposing group is to discuss various aspects of the situation. Listening to each member's dialogue, content and, equally import, to whom they address their remarks no verbally. Look for glances or a change in their sitting position as an indication that they are watching how someone in their own group is reacting to their remarks. This differential habit will reveal where they stand on their team.

It is important to 'hear' the content and observe the delivery. A CFO can speak in deference to his CEO but the message can carry the import of the Board of Directors. Conversely, others speak to be heard and recognized by those in power. Differentiating those who want power and those who enjoy it will improve your ability to target the right person with whom to forge a consensus.

Group negotiations are most challenged when there are opposing views and power factions within the group. As an outsider and the 'opposition' it helps to ferret out such discord to decide if the group can reach an accord or if you are wasting your time and theirs.

When you run into a fractured opposing group dynamic you may be able to divide and conquer. But such power tactics have their limits:

• Pushing the primary negotiator to make a commitment contrary to the rest of his team may be successful during the meeting but fall apart as soon as the meeting ends and his or her associates speak up in private.

• Pressing too soon may cause the other team to postpone making any decision until they can agree among themselves thereby costing you the benefit of their fractionalization.

• Choosing the wrong negotiator to whom to play may back fire when the real power on the team emerges in opposition to the way you have lead the discussion.

The best advice when facing a dysfunctional team of negotiators is to go slow, increase your awareness of non-verbal signals and verbal intonations, and pace yourself not to be overcome by the varied and oblique affronts frequently used in group negotiations, and keep the discussion focused on where you want it to go. Don't let it become distracted or fragmented by allowing everyone on the other side to derail the process by talking just to be heard.

Strong negotiators must also be strong leaders. Controlling the content of the meeting and the direction of the discussion comes from the deft application of informal leadership skills. Sharpen these skills and you will improve your negotiating results.

In Negotiations Personality Matters

Knowing the deployable "personalities" in a negotiation (see my previous post) is a good strategy but does not address use of your strongest negotiation asset; your personality!

Effective communication is essential in a negotiation. Sincerity is the power behind the delivery of a point or proposal during a dispute resolution settlement conference.

Using your natural personality to color or add dimension to your delivery is your best means of making your statements come across as sincere. Getting comfortable with your innate personal style will help you become more believable; more trustworthy in the eyes of others.

Everyone has different personality traits. Some are hard-driving, get to the meat of the matter forces. Others are more relaxed, preferring to develop relationships before focusing on the issues. Still others use humor as a defensive or offensive tactic.

How do you come to understand your basic personality traits? Observe how you act around those you are comfortable with; family, close friends, school chums. Are you the one cracking the jokes? Do they look to you to decide what to do? Are you always trying to keep everyone happy? How you act with these groups is a mirror as to your natural personality. You are relaxed and at ease. It is this personality that is "you".

Knowing that you have a primary personality does not mean that it is the only one you can deploy during a negotiation. But it does let you understand your most sincere delivery style. As your mix the four negotiating styles in any negotiating situation you should find that you shift back to your primary style when trying to make an especially important point or close a deal. It is the strong under-current of sincerity you emit in this mode that signals the other person that this is your final concession, your highest bid or the point at which you are about to walk away from the table. It is a powerful message!

Knowing how to deliver key messages with intense sincerity is part of the art of negotiating.

Choose to Improve

We approach many of our daily negotiations as mere nuisances to be mindlessly dispatched or avoided. Ironically this cavalier negotiating attitude is extended to those we love; our spouses, children, friends, family, and close associates. We tend to pay more attention to our interactions with those we don't know, retail clerks, teachers, students, clergy, bankers, police, dentists, doctors and the like, rather than those most important in our lives.

There is no reason not to try to ease the stress of the conflict in our personal lives as much as we do with perfect strangers.

It takes very little effort to improve how we deal with people; how we handle our every day negotiations. We do this by listening better. Honing our awareness of the interests and needs of others enables us to forge resolutions that are healing by design. Merging some of the needs of others into your solutions to daily problems will definitely reduce the negativism of unhealthy conflict.

It is your choice; your life. You are free to choose to be proactive and improve things. You can also simply contribute to the unhealthy conflict in your life and live with the consequences.

You are not helpless. You have choices.

Why negotiate?

Why do we negotiate?

Everyone does it, but why? Wouldn't life be easier without conflict? Wouldn't the world be better off if nation-states didn't compete for resources and land? Is religious intolerance really good for the peoples of the world?

We negotiate to satisfy or protect a need or want. The currency of a negotiation may be wealth, recognition, sex, a diaper change or simply peace from a crying child or whining peer. Negotiation is also the process for seeking world dominance, gaining a competitive advantage, or overpowering an aggressive predator.

Negotiation can take the form of civil discussions, formal debates, open and hostile fighting, marketing campaigns, political caucuses, or simply a baby crying to resolve its discomfort. It is simply the broad-spectrum of human interaction.

Anything we want or need becomes the commodity or currency of a negotiation. We try to improve or avoid some aspect of our lives through forcing a change. Typically such change involves other people though we often negotiate with ourselves when making the decision to do something we don't want to do. Conflict enters the equation when someone else has or wants what we want or we resist the need to do something out of fear, complacency or dread!

The differences between negotiations are the commodities at stake. Babies need to be changed or to be nourished. Captains of industry want more land or power. Men want sex and women need security. Wants and needs vary, personalities vary, settings vary, currencies vary, tactics vary, but the process does not. To satisfy our daily needs and wants we must interact with others; we must negotiate.

We negotiate because we live in a society of people with varying interests. We negotiate to make things better for ourselves, our family, our company and our country. Avarice and greed are only examples of possible root causes for negotiation. Patriotism, pride, ego, and concern for those we love and care for also are drivers of negotiations. It is not negotiation or conflict that is good or bad; it is the behavior of the participants.

Knowing that you have no choice but to negotiate why not embrace the process as a natural aspect of life? If conflict is a natural state it should not be feared. It should be considered like riding a bike or driving a car. To get where you want to go you need to climb on board the negotiating train and buy an E-ticket.

The Power of Persuasion

If you want to win a negotiation you must expect to win. Attitude counts! Like any sport or other competitive venue, attitude has a direct bearing on the outcome of a negotiation.

Each negotiation, no matter how insignificant, by definition is based in conflict. The people involved are each competing to protect their respective rights by depriving another of his or her expectations. It is a negotiation over conflicting interests.

The secret of winning lies in the passion one brings to the event. If you are convinced that you are right, if you think you deserve to win, if you know that you are in the right, then your passion will color each argument, strengthen each statement, and lead you to victory. If you have doubts, you will be less than effective. Get rid of your doubts before getting involved.

Positive Attitude Tips:

Plan to win. When you are considering strategies and tactics before a meeting envision using each tactic and prevailing with it. This mental exercise sets in your mind the feeling or the gestalt of deploying the strategy or tactic successfully. When the time comes to actually use it, your actions will be more natural and more effective.

Expect to win. When setting your objectives and goal, test them against what you know to be reality. If they are reasonable expectations, visualize achieving the objective. Do this repeatedly to set the image in your mind that the objective and goal is achieved. Don’t focus on the process of achieving it during this mental exercise but on actually achieving it. This is a form of programming yourself to not only want the objective but feel entitled to it. You are aligning your inner being to expecting to walk in and win. You are empowering yourself to prevail.

Act like a winner. When you enter a room, stand tall, make direct eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and be confident in why you are there. Take the time to get comfortable at the table, lay out material you may need, then settle back, ready to begin. Your statements should be brief, pithy and authoritative. Concise, targeted proposals convey clarity of purpose and conviction on your part. As you deliver them, assume they will be accepted. The power of a positive delivery is immeasurable. If the other person has doubts about their position, it may show in their reaction. Be alert for signs of their doubt. If they question you proposal, ask them why. Never accept on face value an objection. If you are confident of your position, the other person should be placed on the defensive unless they can prove you wrong.

The power of persuasion is based in your personal conviction of being right and entitled to prevail.

Learn to Communicate

Babies Must Forget to Communicate

Gorillas beat their chests and roar to establish their supremacy in the jungle. This simple approach to communicating can be very daunting if you happen to be cornered at the time!
For millions of sleep-deprived mothers around the world, the findings of a mom from Australia with a special gift could be a miracle! Priscilla Dunstan says she's unlocked the secret language of babies. When Priscilla was a toddler, her parents discovered she had a photographic memory for sound. At age 4, she could hear a Mozart concert on the piano and play it back note for note.

Persuasion Techniques
Priscilla says "Other people might hear a note but I sort of get the whole symphony," She goes on saying. "So when someone's speaking, I get all this information that other people might not pick up." That mysterious second language took on an astounding new meaning when Priscilla became a mother to her baby, Tom. "Because of my gift for sound, I was able to pick out certain patterns in his cries and then remember what those patterns were later on when he cried again," Priscilla says. "I realized that other babies were saying the same words."

After testing her baby language theory on more than 1,000 infants around the world, Priscilla says there are five words that all babies old utter regardless of race and culture. These are Neh="I'm hungry", Owh="I'm sleepy". Heh="I'm experiencing discomfort", Eair="I have lower gas", and Eh="I need to burp".

Evidently all babies have the same basic 'vocabulary' at birth. When parents don't respond to those reflexes, the baby learns to stop using them. When parents don't respond they must learn how to make their needs understood.

What are these babies doing? They are learning how to negotiate. The first rule of negotiation is that one must be able to -communicate and hear the wants and needs of the situation.

When we enter into a negotiation, any negotiation, we need to communicate. We need to learn how to do this in that specific situation. Each situation, because there are different personalities and issues involved, present differing communication challenges.

In a family dispute yelling or screaming is very likely going to block effective communications rather than make your point. The best way to resolve an emotionally charged discussion is to learn how to diffuse anger to allow both sides to be heard and to try work out their difficulties.

In the business environment negotiators who are demanding and use aggressive tactics often win small skirmishes but lose battles when the other person walks away from the table or declines to negotiate further. They may also miss opportunities to build the relationships that may later have been the bridge necessary to succeed.

Parents, struggling to communicate with their teenaged son will find that a ratio of calm logic may be far more effective that harsh criticism and grounding for sneaking out at night. Even though he is grounded there is little to do once you are asleep and he has your car keys. Rebellion is a strategy to test limits. By having their teenagers balance responsibility and performance in setting their own limits parents will fare far better than trying to enforce an autocratic approach.

By shutting down communication one loses the opportunity to learn from the exchange. As long as you possess absolute power this may work for you, Beware, typically power is fleeting and revenge is sweet!

How does one learn to communicate in a given situation? Much like the babies discussed above, we need to listen and observe the reactions to what we are saying. Verbal, non-verbal, overt, discreet responses need to be studiously considered during initial conversations the lead up to the actual negotiation so that you are prepared to understand what the other person is trying to say. Style, mannerisms, dialect, diction, education, background, knowledge, expertise are all exposed when one speaks. The question is if you are able to 'hear' the subtle messages that are being sent and aware that they will help you to learn how best to communicate with the individual once the discussion becomes serious and focused.

Negotiating is a natural process but by no means is being effect at negotiating easy. It takes hard work and discipline to be more than a casual negotiator. Take the time and make the investment to be come good. The efforts will return huge benefits throughout all aspects of your life.

Related Content
What is Negotiating
When to Accept an Offer
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What to Avoid When Negotiating
How We Negotiate

How to Negotiate

Credit Checks

When bartering with headhunters, make sure you have enough beads and trinkets to stay out of hot water.

When negotiating for services or products or even a repayment schedule don't be afraid to ask hard questions. You have the right and the need to assess the capacity of the other person to honor the terms of any agreement that might be reached.

Doing your due diligence is part of managing the process of negotiations.

Before sitting down to negotiate part of your homework is to research the other party. That research should include conducting formal and informal credit checks. Credit checks can be simple on-line reports reflecting past performance or more informative inquiries of others who have done business with the person in the past. One's reputation as a performer (or not) is typically readily available if you take the time to ask around. Remember, your reputation is also in the public domain. So take care to preserve it.

Credit and Reputation reflect the capacity and inclination of the other person to make good on his or her promises. In every walk of life there are those who try to bluff their way to greatness. They do not realize that if they fail to perform they are hurting the other person. You have the right and responsibility to determine with whom you are dealing and whether it is a person with whom you want to associate, work, or entrust your project or assets.

When finally seated across the table from the other person continue your due diligence of determining his or her capacity to perform. You are merely establishing that it is worth your time to even enter into discussions. Be prepared to be asked for your references or evidence of your ability to perform. Both parties are entitled to know who they are dealing with and that the others performance is viable if an agreement is reached. The more credit you bring to the table, the less risk there is for the other person to enter into an agreement. That lessened risk will often allow them to compromise more during the negotiation.

Don't be afraid that your questions may be considered impolite or intrusive. Credit checks are done daily. When we tender our credit cards or checks to a clerk in a store, they do not simply take our word that we can pay, they access a credit service and verify that we have the money to pay the bill. If someone is willing to be questioned by a total stranger over their ability to buy a steak dinner, surely they should not object to providing a financial statement when buying a million dollar parcel of land or home. If they are, caveat emptor or seller beware!

BRACKETING tactics in Negotiations

When using heavy artillery against a grizzly bear, it is normal to shoot long, then short to establish the range and effect of the wind, then "walk" the rounds down until the grizzly is effectively de-clawed. Unless of course, if he is charging. In which case you should fire for effect without delay!

As a dispute resolution strategy, bracketing is an effective way to resolve differences. It is also the most heavily used approach in negotiations. It encompasses establishing "bid/ask" positions between the parties then working for a common ground, typically somewhere in the middle of the initial "bid/ask" parameters. The important aspect of bracketing is determining what your opening position should be.

A mediator's first challenge is to get the parties to open with reasonable offers to settle. This will likely be accomplished in private, working with one side then the other. While the objective of these breakout sessions is to generate an opening bid, the mediator will also be trying to learn what other issues are important to each party. It is these ancillary issues that often pose the greatest potential for settlement.

The initial offer or counter needs to be carefully considered. As most negotiations are not life and death situations, each party has the right to walk away and save time if they feel there is no chance of reaching an agreement. So the opening offer and counter need to either be within reality or one's bottom line if that is what is required to keep the discussions alive. By preparing and doing your research you should have a reasonably good idea of what it will take to reach an agreement. Your initial offer should reflect some reasonableness in that regard.

It is the number one tactic in bracketing to not make the initial offer. Getting the other person to make the first bid takes time, communication skills, and manipulation. The art of negotiation is not as much in the numbers as it is in the human skills of getting the other person to do what you want them to do. In this case, make the initial offer. That offer, when made, will tell you a lot. It establishes the expectations, knowledge, confidence and need for the deal of the other person. Take the time necessary to try to get the other person to make the first offer.

Once the opening bids are established, the mediator will need to formulate how he presents each bid to the other party in the best light so that the offer is not rejected but countered. This is where ancillary issues can be used. That is, when presenting a unusually high bid, the mediator may say to the other side, "While this may seem high, you have told me this is not really about money. So let's see if we can resolve the other issues and then come back to the money." What the mediator is doing is expanding the scope of the negotiations to their widest parameters. He will then work to bring the parties together by "horse-trading" issues and monetary considerations until both can justify accepting the final terms.

There is an art to bracketing. Moving too quickly will result in giving up too much. The amount of each concession also signals when the parties are getting close to their final positions. A mediator needs to be sensitive to this and work to always leave a door open for "just one more" concession if necessary.

Don't forget that time is a major commodity. The final concessions may have to be extracted by using the gambit, "We have so much invested in this session, one more small concession has got to be worth considering."

There are those times when you know you have to make a ridiculously low or high initial offer. The goal is to keep the dialogue going so you can sway the other person toward your bottom line. When you have to make an unreasonable offer, use the following delivery techniques to preserve the dialogue:

- Prepare the other party up front for the offer.
- Establish a relationship through preparatory dialogue.
- Desensitize the number using some humor in the delivery.
- Do not tender the offer with equivocation; deliver it with confidence.
- Explain the merits of the offer during the delivery.

Remember, you don't know the other person's situation or knowledge base. While your offer may be seemingly ridiculous, the other person may have pressures or needs that make it viable.

Negotiations are not easy. They are interpersonal conflicts that need to be managed. If they were easy we would all be living happy, healthy, wealthy lives with perfect families, burgeoning bank accounts, and ideal career paths.

Brainstorming as Part of the Negotiation Process

Man's ability to dream, to think beyond the obvious sets him apart from the animal kingdom. This unique characteristic has resulted in bows, arrows, slings, knives, spears, black powder, guns, bombs, nuclear warheads and other tools needed to advance civilization!

Brainstorming how to solve a challenge is the crux of advanced negotiations. Until the parties at the table begin to work together to resolve their issues the confrontation is merely a brawl or barter. It does not create value.

Negotiations should yield incremental value in that both parties should be able to leave the table thinking they gained more than the other person.

Brainstorming goes hand and glove with the whole-pie theory of negotiations. Before focusing on the base terms of a negotiation take the time to get as many issues as possible on the table. Expanding the scope of the discussion should reveal areas of agreement that help to offset the compromises that will eventually be required to settle the primary point of dissension.

The globalization of the discussion, the brainstorming to add incremental issues, and the process of reaching ancillary agreements creates the groundwork for the final, major negotiation. The incentives provided to assuage the ancillary needs can help to justify the required concessions on the major issue.

It is the capacity to look beyond the issues at hand to come up with viable solutions that make negotiating an art form rather than mere bartering or brawling. Before you actually sit down to negotiate, seek to uncover the ancillary issues that may have a bearing on the discussions. Brainstorming prior to a negotiation or settlement conference could include:

-Other related or unrelated areas of opportunity to work together.
-Issues related to the specific topic at hand that have yet to be raised.
-Common goals and objectives the parties might have.
-Common acquaintances the parties might have that may add credibility to either's arguments.
-Common challenges the parties may be facing on a micro, macro and global level.

You won't know where the brainstorming might lead. The time it takes to discover related issues typically pays dividends once the final negotiations commence. Be patient. Be diligent. Be thorough. Doing something right makes it worth doing.

Assume and Fail!

The difference between man and beast is that man assumes he is better than the beast. In the wild a man is only a match if he has the right equipment, is well trained, and knows the jungle. A camera on safari is no defense against a charging rhino!

In every dispute resolution one must assume certain things about the other person in order to make progress. As an example, you may be trying to measure when the other person has reached his limit in the discussion before you make your final concession. How you come to this conclusion must be based in part on an assumption on your part.

To assume is to presume or presuppose. Assume also means to imagine. This is dangerous territory in a negotiation. You need to limit your imagination as much as possible by turning to your communication skills and validating your assumptions. But, better still, you need to minimize your assumptions.

Assume less, listen more:

-Identify what you are assuming before a meeting, and when the meeting starts, ask questions to validate your assumptions.

-Seek third party input to validate an assumption. Don't make an assumption about something that can be researched.

-If you don't know, ask. You may be surprised at how open the other person is.

If the assumption is about a significant issue, don't rely on your gut. Investigate, question, brainstorm, network and research until you can assess the approximate accurateness of your assumption. No one said negotiating is easy.

Flash Negotiations

Running into a angry grizzly requires swift, deliberate action. It is often best to aim and shoot rather than think and plan how to react.

Flash Negotiations is a tactic used to quickly resolve an issue. The proper use of this tactic relies on the sixth sense a negotiator gets that a resolution is at hand. This can happen when meeting the other person for the first time. Usually such meetings are tactical opportunities to gather and validate information upon which future strategies are developed. But the experienced negotiator will, on occasion, get a flash opportunity to open resolution discussions while the other person is off guard. Take advantage of these situations to save time and money. Flash Negotiations often yield the best possible deal available.

How does flash negotiating work?

To be able to deploy Flash Negotiations one must be able to draw upon his or her experience reading people, understanding the specific situation, knowing the background facts and understanding what they are prepared to do to make the deal. Armed with a strong base of experience and people skills, an aware negotiator commences the research interview. As the discussion develops, the other person may signal that he or she is receptive to an offer, is caught off guard, wants quick resolution, or is up to speed and prepared to discuss the matter.

Any of these signals presents an opportunity for Flash Negotiations.

If you are prepared to open negotiations, take the initiative and make a low but realistic offer. Tender as low an offer as you think will be received without shutting off the dialogue.

If the other person counters the offer or asks for more information you will know that the opportunity exists for a Flash Negotiation. His counter will set the parameter of the bid / ask and you can typically assume that the negotiation will end up at the median of the bid and ask. In a flash negotiation I often move quickly to that median point and use the swift pace of the negotiation as a reason to acknowledge the other person's professionalism, insight and forthrightness.

If you are ready to deploy Flash Negotiations as a tactic you will typically find that you will secure better terms and save time by doing so. As you have initiated the dialogue, you should be in control of the facts, be better prepared, and have the negotiating advantage while the other person has had little time to assess the situation.

When to use Flash Negotiations:

-When more time benefits the other person.
-When time is critical to your cause.
-When you know what you are willing to spend.

When Flash Negotiations may not be appropriate:

-When you aren't sure what your initial offer should be.
-When you do not know what you are willing to spend.
-When time is critical to the other person.
-When you are not prepared.
-When you do not have the authority to commit to the terms.

Develop the discipline to be alert and ready to deploy Flash Negotiations and you will be more effective as a negotiator or mediator.

Blame can hurt a negotiation

When confronted a great-white without your spear gun, don't waste time dwelling on who forgot to pack it.

Blame is something we do to make ourselves feel better about something bad that has happened. Usually we seek to blame someone else for something that has happened to us. Blame may be comforting psychologically but it does not change the reality of what has happened.

In an argument or negotiation, casting blame heightens tempers and causes embarrassment. It does not help resolve anything.

If you blame a third party, you merely reduce your credibility. If you blame the other party, they will likely stiffen their resolve. At the very least, they will be unlikely to want to cooperate with you.
Blaming is an attempt to displace guilt. It is not an attempt to resolve a situation. Don't get caught up in the blame game if you sincerely want to find a viable accord. People granting concessions from guilt don't really want to do so. As with any coerced concession, they may later change their mind.

While casting blame is often a useless exercise, there can be situations that call for assessing blame. When a mediator conducts a mediation session, he does so as a arbitrator between upset people. One aspect of the mediation process that makes it effective is that the parties are provided a chance to confront each other directly. They get to say all the things about the other person that have been festering since the legal process started.

An adept mediator will seek to get both the facts and the feelings on the table at the beginning of the mediation session. In many instances, simply being able to confront the other person relieves so much of the frustration that the mediator is then able to start the constructive process of rebuilding trust between the parties. Often a settlement is not possible without this airing of feelings.

Blame can be used as a tactic in negotiations. Don't be afraid to take some of the blame. Taking blame can create an empathetic environment from which collaboration can emerge. If a discussion is heated and at an impasse, taking blame for some aspect of the difficulty often results in the other person recognizing your attempt to take responsibility and eases the tenor of the argument. If there is a misunderstanding, assuming part of the responsibility for that misunderstanding can diffuse an otherwise tense, non-productive environment.

Be sensitive to the climate of the negotiation and don't be afraid to intervene to improve the situation. Your ego is a small concession for a major gain.

Removing Barriers to Effective Communications

To negotiate with a deaf and mute adversary, use a pencil and paper.

A negotiator must be understood to succeed. Barriers to effective communication can be removed if they are identified.

Look for signs that the other person is not listening and understanding you. Watch for nonverbal signals that he or she is uncomfortable, bored or otherwise distracted.

Check yourself when the other person is speaking to make sure you are listening rather than planning your next comment or thinking of what you will have for dinner. It is your responsibility to be an effective listener.

If you have issues that prevent you from focusing properly, tell the otherside you need to reschedule the meeting or that you are having trouble following his argument. Proactively remove the barrier so you can do your part in the discussion.

Layered Barriers To Communications

When you come across a tribe of headhunters it is wise to make sure the person you are bartering with is the one who plans the dinner menu.

Other than on playgrounds most negotiations are not one-on-one situations.

-In the business environment it is typical that at least one of the parties is an employee of a company. As such, that person is burdened with a hierarchy of approval rights. It is typical for both parties to have the same burden of needing the approval of others before being able to fully commit to an agreement.

-In family disputes there may be spouses or other family members who have a voice in any agreement.

-In mediation settings there may be spouses, insurance companies or other entities that must be part of the final approval of any accord.

Part of the initial phase of any negotiation is to establish who the decision making authority is for the other party. In the case of a mediation, each of the parties may present layered authority issues.

Most people will reveal their lack of authority only if asked directly if they need someone else's consent. The human ego is typically fragile and to admit dependence is sometimes hard to do. The inclination is to personalize the situation. It is up to the negotiator or mediator to peel away the posturing and determine who the actual decision makers are. In the case of a mediation, the mediator needs to gain access to the decision maker. That may mean asking the person to attend or at least making sure he or she is available by telephone to confer and when appropriate, consent to an agreement if one is reached.

Layered approval structures create barriers to clear communication. Actual decision makers must rely on the interpretations of their delegatees as to the dynamics of the discussions. Each person between the decision makers unconsciously or consciously alter the message. Individuals have their respective filters that alter what they hear.

Consider a corporate negotiation. When dealing with a company or corporation, each person within the organization has his or her own set of filters. They each adjust what they hear. For example, the CEO has a long-range perspective, the CFO is concerned about quarterly earnings and cash flow, the VP of Real Estate is concerned about opening new locations to meet his or her budget and the real estate manager is worried about making his bonus. In addition, each has a personal agenda caused by personal issues such as meeting mortgage payments, college costs, a pending divorce or marraige, or retirement planning. In this scenario, it might be that the real estate manager is really trying to maximize his bonus by chasing any location that presents itself. The CFO is feeling the pressure of lagging sales and has been talking to the CEO about the need to slow development or actually retrench. And the CEO is contemplating a sale or merger that is based on growth through new locations. How is a landlord/owner supposed to know how to negotiate with the company when there are internal conflicts within the corporate culture? How will his message be altered before it reaches the CEO.

Layered barriers in a negotiation require aggressive communication countermeasures to insure that your message is being heard. Possible counter-measures include:

-Put all critical communications in writing. This way, those involved on the other side will at least be able to refer to your written message.

-Copy everyone possible on the communication to make sure it is shared.

-Pick up the phone and call the decision maker to simply inform him of the progress being made and see if there are questions you can answer.

-Refuse to negotiate further unless you have access to the other decision maker.

Negotiating is an exercise in communications. Layered negotiations poses a normal challenge until you gain access to the right person with whom to deal. A standard negotiating strategy is to try to keep key decision makers out of the room so they can assess the situation without the pressure to respond immediately. Take the time before negotiations commence to find out who is involved in the approval process and seek to work with the highest person you can reach.

Overcoming Barriers to Negotiations

When embarking on a hike in the woods don't expect it to be a walk in the park. Anticipating challenges and obstacles is the best insurance to winning a negotiation. Barriers to a settlement are the reasons negotiating is necessary in human interaction. Without them life really would be walk in the park!

It is not if, but where, barriers exist. I say where rather than when. If you view the negotiation process as a journey, you will find your path littered with obstacles challenging your progress. Seeking each out and resolving them is the only way to make it to the end of your journey.

Understanding that they exist is the first step. Uncovering them is the second. Resolving them is the third.

To better understand where the another person is coming from in a negotiation, take time to get to learn about the person. Visit his or her office. Get a feel for the person's personal life including family, interests and hobbies. Talk with mutual friends. In short, learn what you can before settling into the actual negotiation. Football coaches video the competition and then review the tapes with their players to identify and anticipate likely offensive and defensive barriers they will face. Negotiations should be no different. It is an adversarial sport.

When you are stymied by a barrier, find a way around it. If it is a personal prejudice, you may want to call in a co-negotiator to counter-act the image you represent. If it is a technical matter, you may want to enlist the help of an expert. Your role as a negotiator or mediator is to identify and resolve barriers.

In family situations the barrier can be generational. A father often filters the statements of his thirty-something son as though he was still an adolescent. And the son still looks at his father as a stern, judging parent. Changing this engrained perception is difficult because both are relying on years of first hand observation.

Barriers are the crux of human interaction. Rather than trying to avoid them, embrace them as natural challenges to be overcome. A positive attitude toward resolution is ninety percent of the battle.

Negotiators often create barriers to buy time.


There are times when you want to slow the negotiating process. This is when you need to deploy time-buying tactics. Creating barriers is an excellent way to forestall an unacceptable decision.

We live in a society where everyone is supposed to be omnipotent and the best at what they do. Playing dumb to disarm the other person or to buy some time to think over what is being said is a seldom used negotiating tactic. It is very effective.

There is nothing wrong with asking questions or asking for clarification. When the other person is making a major point against you, don't hesitate to interrupt to ask for clarification. It will break their train of thought and give you a chance to think of ways to deflect their argument.

We also live in the real-time world of email and faxes. Just because you receive a proposal by fax or email does not mean you should respond in kind. Feel free to sit on a proposal for a few days before sending a response. This signals several things. That you are too busy to look at the proposal. That you may have other offers. That it is not important to you.

Most important, it "says" you aren't ready to respond for some reason.

Don't be forced into making a hasty decision. Time typically works to your advantage. When you are at the negotiating table and the other person makes a proposal, sit back and ponder, for as long as you want and then some. More times than not the person making the offer will get nervous and improve the offer.

Your silence will signal that you were not satisfied with the terms. Their reaction tells you how much they want to reach an agreement.

As they say, silence is golden.

Negotiators must overcome barriers to effective communication.


While a deep, fast moving river between you and a hungry lion may appear to be an effective barrier, a locked cage with strong bars would be even better.

To be effective a negotiator must have his message clearly heard and understood by the other person. Barriers to effective communication can obscure the best argument. Look for and remove barriers that block your message. All negotiators must be, by definition, skilled communicators. That means they must listen as well as speak clearly.

But there is more.

Reactions to what you are saying signal if the other person is listening and understanding your message. Watch the listener's eyes. If they stay focused on your eyes, that usually means they are intently listening. If however, the wander or disconnect, it usually means that their mind is racing ahead to formulate what they are going to say, that they are not believing what you are saying, or that they are thinking about the hot date they have that evening. In any event, you need to regain their attention. An effective way to do this is to simply stop speaking. When they realize that you are no longer speaking resume as though nothing has happened.

You may actually need to call their attention to the fact that they weren't listening and ask why. This tactic will often uncover the reason for the barrier. Then it can be properly addressed. For example, I recall a situation where the other person replied, "I'm really sorry, my daughter is very sick and I'm distracted." I said that I was sorry to hear about her daughter and suggested we put off further discussions until she was better. In recognizing her personal need, we dealt with each other as real people. Later this personal respect helped us to overcome some of the tougher issues we were facing.

Unless communications are being heard, they should be forestalled until the other person is able to hear what you have to say.

The mere act of acknowledging barriers to communications can give you the opportunity to work together to start to agree on how to resolve the barriers. Then it will be easier to discuss and resolve the real issues.

Anxiety is Normal in Negotiations

Sharks never show anxiety, as predators they sense it. Then they go for blood. Make sure you have plenty of deodorant when 'swimming with a shark'. Power negotiators train to be able to observe, detect and capitalize on the anxiety of their opponents.

It is natural to start any negotiation with some anxiety. Whether in a family setting or the business environment, conflict is not comfortable for most people and a negotiation is a step we take to resolve conflict. Conflict by nature is stressful. Anxiety comes from not being fully prepared or experienced in any endeavor. People are anxious on their first date, before speaking in front of others and when meeting the in-laws. Why should they not be anxious before starting a negotiation with strangers?

Mediators know the root of the anxiety is typically the fear of the unknown. That is why they start mediation sessions with clear, understandable instructions to the parties explaining how mediation is structured, what they can expect, and what the rules of engagement are. The mediator is working at removing the anxiety from the room and opening the way for productive discussions. A seasoned negotiator will take similar steps in a negotiation to set up an environment that is conducive to reaching an accord.

Negotiators can create anxiety as a tactic by introducing new facts, raising embarrassing questions and challenging assumptions to unsettle the other person. Creating doubt may help to bring a recalcitrant opponent back to the negotiating table by undercutting his confidence. It may also create a defensive atmosphere that is counter productive.

Antagonism as a Negotiating Tactic

Don't feed the sharks if you want to go swimming! Intentionally irritating another person is usually counter-productive to settling a dispute. The goal is to build relationships upon which agreements can be forged. That being said, the parties to any dispute are essentially antagonists.

When a negotiation is stalemated and no one is really trying to make progress, shifting styles from that of a polite mediator to that of an antagonist can evoke a reaction. Such reactions cause some form of movement in the discussions. Then the parties on one side begin to bicker. They may be called into a caucus session by their attorney and told to quell the internal fighting in public as it undermines their cause. Similarly, a mediator stymied between two parties may become antagonistic toward one of the parties in private by implying that they are wasting his time by not trying to reach a settlement or not considering facts when they are presented. A healthy tongue lashing in private may serve as a reality check for the obstinate party and evoke a counter proposal.

When one party does not like a proposal and does not need to make the deal, he may simply harden his position and become antagonistic. If he is willing to walk away, being abrupt will either save time or cause the other side to improve their offer to keep the dialogue going. Either way, the antagonistic approach has used the power of indifference or negativism to change the outcome of the meeting.

Antagonistic tactics can backfire. Egos are fragile things and anger can rage uncontrollably when a person is provoked. Use an antagonistic style or tactic only if you are prepared to walk away from the meeting if things fall apart.


Arguing is a destructive by-product of human interaction. Between nations, it can lead to war and mayhem. Between couples it can lead to pain and divorce. Negotiating is very different than arguing.

Arguing or fighting typically ends with the proponents trying to obliterate each other by out-shouting or simply shooting the other to end the argument. This amounts to screaming over the other's words to the point that nothing is heard by anyone. Seeking to overpower the other person may result in the other person simply walking away from the situation. If so, nothing is solved. No one wins.

When involved in a marital or family argument, understand that every person has differing personality traits that impact how they deal with anger. One important difference is the time it takes to get over a fight. Many of us get mad quickly but get over it just as quickly. Others are slow to ignite but simmer for days!

A couple needs to learn the "anger" pattern of the other. This difference will explain reactions and enable the couple to better understand each other. Respect is a key part of any relationship. Granting enough time or space for the other party to cool off is part of respecting their needs. Demanding the argument end on your timing is to selfishly want things your way and is not the way to end an argument. It often will result in a far greater argument than the original issue.

When conflicts between a parent and child or a husband and wife repeatedly escalate beyond control, destructive words and acts often become the norm. This mutual abuse slowly destroys the underlying relationship. Even though the more powerful parent may prevail, the underlying war will ultimately be lost as the core feelings that bind the family relationship may eventually be killed off. As a parent you need to try to control the situation and keep the discussions focused on the matter at hand rather than allow personal attacks to overshadow the core issue.

In business it is not acceptable to kill one's opponent!

Business conflict is typically resolved through negotiation. Whether the negotiation is over an employee's conduct, a supervisor's actions, a building lease or pay raise, the process is the same.

It stands to reason that the most effective negotiators are those with absolute power and the willingness to use it! Few people have absolute power. The rest of us must work to develop tools and techniques to improve their negotiating results.

Managers who demand compliance leave employees with two choices. They can knuckle under, accept the situation, and stay to make the money necessary to feed their family. Or they can fight back. Rather than quitting and jeopardizing their family's subsistence, they simply start seeking another job. By learning of other options the employee has grasped the power to decide whether to stay or leave. If the decision is to leave, the manager will have to become reasonable or accept the loss of an employee and the cost of finding and training a replacement.

In taking the initiative to seek another job, the employee is establishing his or her value on the open market. Knowing that worth empowers the employee with choices and forces the company to either acknowledge that value or lose it.

While arguing is not an effective negotiating tool, prolonged discussions designed to wear the other party down on issues can be an effective negotiating tactic. Learn to control your temper and extend discussions to gather information or wear down the other party. Losing your temper will have the opposite effect.

Assumptions Lead to Negotiating Pitfalls

Seldom does a lion make a faulty assumption about its prey. They take the time to carefully stalk their prey until they know the time is right to strike. Man, on the other hand, eagerly rushes in only to find he forgot to pack his big-game gun!

Assumptions are at the same time necessary and dangerous. It is not likely you will have all of the information you need to make a decision. So you must fill in the blanks, so to speak. How you do this will determine if you are successful or not in whatever you do.

The best defense against a poor assumption is good preparation. Thorough knowledge of your topic, your goal, your strategies and objectives, your company, yourself, your opponent, his company, and the issues relating to the task at hand is the best way to insure your assumptions are reliable.

Few have the luxury of such preparation in their daily routine. So prepare as much as possible before the meeting and then add to your knowledge by measuring the reactions to your questions and comments. During a casual question and answer session you can refine what you know or think with reasonable accuracy if you listen effectively and watch the person's body language.

The problem with bad assumptions is that they can lead to bad conclusions. During your preparation separate what you know and what you assume to be the case. Then focus your conversation on validating your assumptions. In addition to using the preliminary casual discussion period to build a good working relationship or to create a healthy environment within which to negotiate, do not miss the opportunity to uncover false assumptions.

Negotiators use Agendas, Hidden and Apparent

There are two types of agendas. Those that are public and set the course of a meeting and those that are hidden and guide the actual progress of the session. Uncovering hidden agendas is an important aspect in any negotiation or mediation.

It is the hidden agendas that truly impact how a settlement conference will proceed.

Controlling a meeting is key to controlling a negotiation. Managing the agenda establishes this control. Mediators garner their power as they control what happens, when it happens and where it happens during a settlement conference. They have the ability to call for caucus sessions, quiz both sides, and dictate certain rules. This often gives them the cloak of authority to get the parties to move toward reconciliation.

Hidden agendas, on the other hand, are what skilled negotiators use to manage the process as the informal group leader.

There are likely many hidden agendas at play during any negotiating session. Those of the primary negotiators and those of the other participants in the room. Each person is likely to have a personal agenda that differs slightly from their own teammates. Uncovering and capitalizing on the disparity of these agendas can be useful to a negotiator.

How does one uncover another's hidden agenda? By being a good detective:

1. Ask questions soliciting the other person's needs and wants.

2. Ask follow-up questions designed to cross check previous answers.

3. Seek similar responses from other members of the other negotiating team.

4. Feel free to question the responses.

5. Press to discover why the individual sitting across from you feels that way; as opposed to why his company or client may feel a certain way.

6. Identify if there are personal needs that are in conflict or amplify the stated objectives of the otherside.

7. Seek to discover if the real decision maker is at the table or available to be reached for input or decisions.

8. Gather and digest the responses to create the 'fabric' of the other side's basic needs and stated wants regarding the situation.

9. Observe non-verbal reaction that may indicate responses are less than forthright.

Negotiation is far more than simply sitting at the table and exchanging proposals. It is the art form of learning enough about the other person to be able to engage him or her in a dialogue that makes them want to work with you. Without absolute power, your primary agenda is to uncover enough about the other person to be able to manage the discussion toward satisfying your needs.

Distractions in Negotiations

Negotiators are human. They are subject to being distracted by personal problems, other matters and even exhaustion. To a lesser extent, they can be distracted by delays in a meeting, antagonistic behavior of someone in the room, or even by the light coming in through the window.

Being comfortable is an essential ingredient to being effective as a negotiator or mediator. Before entering a settlement conference put aside your personal issues and clear your mind. If the other issues are such that you can't do this, don't start the negotiation. Ask for a postponement or send someone else.

You need to have all of you faculties focused to do the job properly. Such distractions are barriers or obstacles that stand in the way of a successful negotiation. Better put, barriers are obstacles to effective communications.

In order to have an effective discussion, the people party to the discussion have to be able to hear, be heard and understand each other. If you sense the other person is distracted, make it your responsibility to expose the cause. If it is going to impede the other person from listening or focusing on what you are sayoing, you may want to suggest postponing the meeting. If you feel it will cause the other person to rush through th emeeting and grant concessions to wrap things up, then it may be advantageous to proceed. Until you know the situation,, you can't judge what the impact will be on the negotiations.

You may actually want to call their attention to the fact that they weren't listening and ask them why. While this second tactic may seem rude, it can often uncover the reason for the barrier that can then be removed. For example, I recall a situation where the other person replied, "I'm really sorry, my daughter is very sick and I'm distracted." To this I said that I was sorry to hear about her daughter and we put off further discussions until the personal problem was resolved. In understanding her personal need, we dealt with each other as real people. This helped us to overcome some of the tougher issues we were facing as we had built up a level of trust and respect. The point is that unless communications are being heard, they should be forestalled until the other person is ready or capable of hearing what you have to say.

A Negotiator Values Good Advice

Advice is cheap. No matter the cost, it can be extremely valuable to a negotiator!

Before sitting down to negotiate anything of substance it is worthwhile to conduct a little research about the person with whom you will be meeting. Seeking the advice of others is part of the due diligence aspect of negotiation preparation. How you handle that advice marks the difference between an impressionable novice and a veteran negotiator.

The negotiator's job is to qualify and verify the advice received. Often information is biased or flawed and can be misleading. Remember, the information passed along has been filtered by the other person and may be biased based on their experience. The task is to validate input garnered from numerous sources. If this information is deemed pertinent to the task at hand, mentally file it away to use when appropriate. If something is learned that is disturbing, seek collaborative input. Never trust a single source even if that person is respected. If they lost a fight or were embarrassed by the outcome, they are more likely to 'bend' reality to their liking than to relay the facts of the situation dispassionately.

Seek out advice by asking peers about their past experiences with the person or company, asking other people who have negotiated with them, or even asking their assistants or co-workers about them. Often one's hobbies reflect on the type of negotiator they are apt to be. A sailor, as contrasted to a power boat owner, is likely to be much more process oriented while the power boater will be focused on the end result.

Solicit input from as many sources as possible and distill it to salient impressions. Then, when actually meeting the other person, during the initial getting-acquainted conversation, observe and validate if the impressions seem to fit.

Train yourself to be observant and reflective to fully develop your negotiating skills.

Who is the Best Negotiator?

Who is the best negotiator?

There is no way to tell. One who wins is not always the best negotiator. If that person had absolute power, he did not need to negotiate effectively to prevail. If one lacks any power or the capacity to perform, then the best negotiating skills would be for naught.

The measure of the best negotiator lies in how well one does with what they have to negotiate with at that moment in time. But, if one knows he lacks the resources to negotiate effectively, then perhaps the best negotiator is one who knows when not to negotiate.

Negotiation is an art. Art is difficult to measure as everyone has a differing opinion of beauty. There are too many variables to create a proper scorecard.

Why, then, are some judged to be better negotiators than others? Typically a respected negotiator has demonstrated consistent, disciplined behavior that results in a series of perceived victories. No one but the person will really know how effective he has been during each session. But their mastery of the process and their persona at the negotiating table will create the image of a winner, and they will be considered to be one of the best negotiators others have encountered.

So then how can one become the "best" negotiator?

Being the best at anything means taking the time to learn the process and then execute each step diligently. It means investing the time and effort to properly research and prepare for each encounter. It means developing honed communication skills. It means building an arsenal of negotiating tactics and strategies to deploy when needed. It means firmly grasping the attitude that you will win before you sit down to negotiate. It means being willing to take control of the situation and lead others.

In short, it means working at being the best you can be.

Barriers to Effective Communications

When a bear roars, he is not listening. Barriers are those obstacles that stand in the way of a successful negotiation. Better put, barriers are obstacles to effective communications.

In order to have an effective discussion or negotiation, the people involved have to be able to hear, be heard, and understand each other. They do not need to agree, only to understand and be understood. Agreement may or may not come later. It certainly will never come if channels of communication are not opened and maintained.

Most barriers stem from simple communications issues between the parties.

Barriers can be real, created, or perceived. A real barrier could be a language barrier if the parties do not speak the same language fluently. The nuances of a language can be lost on one who does not speak it as a native tongue. A created barrier can be created by one person yelling over the top of another. As loud as his or her voice may be, the listener will likely reject what is being said as an emotional outburst. A perceived barrier is often based on false assumptions. An example would be one of the parties thinking that the other person does not understand what is being said without verifying that is the case. Playing dumb is an age-old negotiating tactic designed to get the other person to reveal far more than they intended.

Barriers can be verbal and non-verbal. Yelling, as noted above, is an effective verbal barrier to good communications. Equally disruptive is a distraction in the meeting that captures the attention of one person while the other person is making a point.

No matter the cause of the barriers, they need to be overcome to allow effective communications which facilitate good negotiations. Mediators are expert at establishing a dialogue between the parties. Effective negotiators need to be master communicators.

Technology and Human Communication

21st century communication tools have dramaticaly changed the negotiating process. We live in the communication era complete with faxes, mobile phones, laptops, PCs, PDAs that retrieve and send e-mails, the Internet, DSL and modem connections, video conferences, and pagers. And that is today. Tomorrow there will be even more ways to stay in touch or communicate.

We are trained to be readily accessible and available on demand with nano-second technology. It is almost a distinction to be the most-available executive on a team. Our generation expects instant gratification. That includes responsiveness. This immediacy is not necessarily good for negotiations. Like a fine wine, some negotiations require time to come to their full bloom.

Negotiating is an art and art should not be rushed.

The compressed time of today's electronically connected world takes the finesse out of negotiating. If you want to barter, succumb to nano-second technology. If you want to negotiate, require face-to-face meetings and save the time-saving technology for procedural matters.

There are times to use technology. But make sure you use it to your advantage and don't succumb to the expectations of others to do so just to make them happy. You are entitled to your privacy. You are also entitled to time your responses to your liking.

- E-mail is a great vehicle for quick, casual communication. It is no replacement for negotiating terms unless you have established a rapport with the other person and know that the essential negotiations are either resolved or will be handled at a future meeting. When responding to an e-mail consider that the timing of a response sends a distinct message. A prompt response can indicate eagerness to settle, desperation, or a lack of options on your part. A delayed response generally indicates the issue is not one of your priorities, you have other options, or that you are not very happy with the terms.

- Facsimiles and e-mail attached documents can move the documentation process along swiftly. This is to your advantage when you have made a good deal and don't want time to erode that agreement. But if you have yet to agree and need to gather additional information, choose the traditional method of transmitting documents, the U.S. Mail, to give you time to finish your research or explore other options.

- The Internet is an invaluable research tool. Use it to research your opponent. Assume that he or she will be doing the same thing. Make sure you don't have too much information about yourself on the 'net'.

- On screen reading is fine for the news. Don't scan through documents on the screen. Print and read important documents. Take your time and consider each important paragraph.

You need not give others your e-mail address or fax numbers even if asked. That information allows others to invade your privacy. Provide it only to those you want to have priority access to you.

Examples of Leadership Skills

Leaders emerge from the ranks of men. Why they become leaders when others do not probably has been studied and observed since men and women began to merge into tribes and clans.

Newsweek ran a story about George Washington in the May, 23, 2005 issue. They observed, "What was the hold he (George Washington) had over men? There was nothing foreordained about george Washington's success a general. But he saw things as they were, and he saw himself as he was. As subject as any man to moments of doubt and uncertainty, he managed to summon the self-confidence necessary to persevere amid diseaster. He was committed heart and soul to the cause, resilient, open to new ideas and seldom failed to learn from his mistakes. Through the often dark year of 1776, he would not only overcome his own fears but help his countrymen conquer theirs, too - a supreme act of providential leadership."

To negotiate well one must lead those involved, especially their opponents, to reach a mutually viabable agreement.

Being passionate about the negotiation establishes one's conviction and commitment to the process. No argument is properly delivered without conviction and passion. If you are not prepared or if you do not believe in what you are asking it will be evident unless you are very, very fortunate. Don't rely on luck to see you through.

When you enter the room do so with zest. This energy is contagious. It is a positive force. It shows that you are confident, focused, and passionate about what you are about to do; fight for your cause. It bgins to set the attitude of the small group thay will have ot work together.

Develop ways to telegraph this personal attitude:

- Check your tiredness or personal problems at the door. Actually take a personal moment before entering the room to consciously do this. If you are with a team, step aside to make sure you are mentally ready to enter. If you are leading the group, you should do this before even meeting up with your teammates.

- Enter the room boldly. Make an entrance, don't just enter.

- Make it a big deal to meet someone foe the first time. Recognize personally each of the people in the room. Pause when shaking hands and mentally register the person's name and facial features. Make good, firm, direct, in-control eye contact with each person observing how they react.

- Make it a point to see if everyone has everything they need, even if it is not your office. Take control of the environment. Be assertive in seeing to the needs of others.

When everyone is ready to start the negotiaitons, reinforce your positive attitude with a positive statement. Something a simple as "I'm ready to do this!" sends a very clear message across the table.

Understanding the dynamics of influence or leadership will help you to initiate and maintain control over the discussions. Resolving conflict requires garnering the support of two or more opposing forces to move forward together. Leadership can play a large part in this process.

Interpersonal Communication Skills

A negotiator needs to be skilled at two things. Delivering and receiving messages. Unlike a postal carrier, he must make sure his message is heard and understood. Unlike a court recorder, he must understand as well as hear.

Learning to listen pro-actively and observing while you speak is just the beginning. Negotiating is an art form. Communicating is nothing less. Mastering the ability to reinforce what you are saying with your actions and demeanor allows you to more effectively communicate your point.

Actors practice or rehearse their lines in front of mirrors to get their entire persona to deliver the "feeling" as well as the line. Attorneys preparing opening and closing arguments do the same thing. Why, then, should not other professionals take the same care to insure they are optimizing the impact of what they are going to say? In fact, most mediation and negotiation professionals do go through various types of rehearsals and dry-runs before important meetings.

Prepare, review, and practice for the meeting so that you have mastered the subject matter and know what your objectives are before you sit down to do battle. If you are not adequately prepared you may find that the discussion is being controlled by the other person and that it is being channeled where they want you to go rather than toward your goal.

Knowing the material and being prepared is the first step to good communications. Taking responsibility for delivering the content is the second. Most people will not be convinced through a verbal presentation. Likely they will be spending more time preparing their response than listening to you. That is why you need to shoulder the responsibility of making them actually hear and understand what you are saying as part of your role as an effective communicator and negotiator.

When speaking, you are responsible for making sure what you are saying is being understood. Verify this by:

- Asking follow-up questions to make sure you were understood.
- Repeating salient points two or three times.
- Seeking input on your comments.
- Repeating key points one more time for effect!
- Observing the non-verbal reactions to what you say. *

* By observing you are trying to see if they are thinking of something else, if they are planning what next to say, or if they are just asleep!

Conversely, as an effective negotiator you have to train yourself to be a good listener. We all have bad habits. Many of them apply to how we listen. Our minds can handle much more activity than mere listening. Because of this, we are apt to be subconsciously trying to frame a response to the last point made, figure the odds on the baseball game this evening, concocting a strategy to get a raise at work and worrying about last night's fight at home; all the while also listening to the other person making a point. With all this concurrent activity, actually hearing what is being said is at best difficult. Hearing the subtle nuances within the context of the remarks is next to impossible.

When listening, you are responsible for making sure what you are understanding what is being said. Verify this by:

- Observing the non-verbal signals of the speaker.
- Asking follow-up questions to make sure you understood what was said.
- Repeating back the salient points for affirmation.
- Seeking clarification on complex points.
- Make sure you are not thinking about something else!
- Make doubly sure you are not thinking about what you are going to say next!

Don't sell short the need to improve your communication skills. They can always be improved. The discipline of leaving one's baggage at the door is the most touted and least observed. After all, it is your baggage, you can handle it! But like alcohol and drugs, personal baggage in a negotiation can take your edge or focus away.

Organizational Communication

Communicating is a key aspect of conflict resolution. It occurs in all human interaction in some fashion. During any conflict listening is typically impaired. To agree, the parties need to be able to communicate effectively.

Listen: Everyone should work at developing effective, interactive listening skills. When the other person is talking, you have the chance to learn something,--if you are listening to what they are saying rather than thinking about what you are going to say.

Observe: When speaking, you are responsible for making sure the others are listening. Verify this by observing the non-verbal reactions to what you say.

Signs of discomfort at what you are saying:

- A furrowing of the brow.
- Tensing of the upper body.
- Clenching of the hands.
- A set jaw.
- Leaning forward suddenly.
- Looking away, closing a portfolio or folder, or packing a briefcase.

Most important, watch the other person's eyes. When you are pressing too hard they will harden and stop focusing on you. What you are seeing is the other persons thinking about his response or how to end the discussion rather than listening to what you are saying.

Take Responsibility: Make sure you are being heard and understood. The other person will likely have to review what was said today with others. Make it your goal that he or she be able to clearly restate your case as you intend it to be heard.

There are simple ways to keep the other person interested and attentive to you.

1. Pepper your comments with questions designed to draw them into the discussion. By being involved in the dialogue, they will have to consider what they are saying. And when they speak, it is your turn to listen. They may reveal something of value.

2. Use silence to draw their attention. Pause before an important point you are about to make and let the silence grow until they take notice. Then proceed knowing you have their attention at the moment.

3. Use questions to reinforce their understanding of what you have said. Ask their opinion of a point you just made. If they have missed the point, restate it. You won't have as good a chance to reinforce what you have said once they leave the meeting.

Once two people are focused on each other and listening, communications can become intense. A mediator, while working to get the parties to discuss their respective issues, also monitors the reactions and interjects as required to keep the tone of the exchange productive. He may also use caucus sessions to separate the parties briefly to keep them from becoming too agitated.

In managing a negotiation you typically need to serve as both a mediator and negotiator to lead the discussion towards resolution. Don't be hesitant to ask for a short break to let things cool down or to simply get up. This will break the tension and allow everyone to take a breath.

People Skills and Negotiations

Managing any group of people or even another person requires well-honed people skills. Managing the people involved in a negotiation requires exceptional ability to influence and motivate others.

As all human interaction is a form of conflict resolution, enhancing your people skills is a sure way to improve your ability to negotiate successfully.

To manage people you have to first understand them. Negotiators are people and people are individuals. To reach them through a debate of the issues it is best to present your case in terms they understand and with which they are comfortable. The time spent informally talking before a negotiating session serves the purpose of providing insights into how you might phrase your arguments. Researching the other person before the meeting may also provide information on his or her background, professional and scholastic. Talking to associates who know the person is another way to develop a dialogue strategy.

Develop a style that allows you to be assertive and not aggressive in your communication with the other person. The "3-Rs" to accomplish this are: Rehearse, Repeat, and Request feedback. To lead an informal group you must assert yourself. Being assertive does not also mean being demanding, rude and egotistical. Being assertive is a management style to enable you to control the actions of the group. In a negotiating setting, this needs to be very subtle. The 3-Rs approach is an effective way of taking control without grasping it from the other person.

The process of preparing children for life is a complicated mix of coaching, demanding, directing, disciplining, dreaming, educating, encouraging, entrusting, informing, loving, mediating, negotiating, nurturing, philosophizing, training and trusting. Unlike most management situations, it is unique in that neither party has the option to quit without devastating consequences. There are some well-known parenting situations that can help managers understand and improve their management behavior.

Parents, like all people, react when challenged. This reaction is not the best of management styles, even for parents. Among other common mistakes, parents are apt to resist allowing their child to grow and assume additional responsibility as fast as the child would like. Parents tend to thwart blatant independence at a young age by saying "No!". Unfortunately "no" creates frustration rather than redirecting activity. In a negotiation "no" has a similar impact on the atmosphere between the negotiators. It can be frustrating to the point of distraction. If your intention is not to stop the dialogue in its tracks, be judicious using the word.

Parents also tend to concede too soon and then spend the night worrying if it was the right decision, often with good reason. Negotiators who preempt the other person by negotiating against their own proposal often wish they had just been patient. Cognitive dissonance is often referred to as buyers remorse. After a negotiation you do not want the other side thinking they gave away too much. You want to make sure you have reinforced their decisions as being well made and in their best interest. By building up their egos you are cementing the deal so it will stand the test of time.

Managing others is a design on your part to influence how they will act or respond. Before getting them to act, you have to first impact how they think. Few people can be persuaded to change how they think through a verbal debate. Bring data sheets, diagrams, experts, and other tangible support for your arguments to help educate, inform and influence the other person. Remember also that attitude and setting can influence the other person's mood. Take the initiative to make the initial few moments of any meeting positive and upbeat. Make it a personal challenge to get the other person to smile at least once before sitting down to start the formal dialogue.

To create change in another person, you need to make them uncomfortable and then lead them toward a comfortable resolution. One technique used is to change the topic abruptly to throw the other person off balance. This is especially useful when the discussion is heading into 'troubled waters' for you. Use any transitional thread to shift away from the sensitive area. Most people do not want to be rude and openly object. And example of how this might be done is to interject an observation about how difficult it is to work with city planners when an aspect of the lease negotiations is going against you. There are few people involved in developing commercial properties who won't readily vent about past problems with planners or planning commissions. Use the diversion as a chance to mentally regroup and find a way around problems the other discussion presented.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Does Little to Advance Negotiations

Visiting Washington this week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad introduced himself to the U.S. media showing defiance at U.S. charges over Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad went on to address the subject of Katrina and poke at the Bush administration's response. He compared the delivery of aid to victims in the Gulf Coast unfavorably with the response to natural disasters in the Islamic republic.

Whether you are negotiating, telling a joke or simply discussing a topic, you are partially responsible to make sure others are listening. The best way to stymie communication is to:

-Irritate the other person so he or she stops listening.
- Pepper your comments with blatant falsehoods.
- Intentionally put the other person on the defensive.
- Seek to raise issues that are sure to bring stress to the conversation.

Some people enter a negotiation with the intent to demonstrate their power and control. Unfortunately, in doing so they may actually undermine any chance of reaching an accord. But if your intent is not to negotiate at the moment, then such behavior becomes a justified stalling tactic.

Continuing he added, "We thought Americans would act more quickly and help their fellow Americans. We expected more." He added: "During the very first day of the hurricane, people could have brought more and limited the extent of the tragedy."

Ahmadinejad obviously has no intent of negotiating with the US about Iran’s nuclear program. His style and remarks are designed to thwart any productive conversation. Knowing that we are embroiled in Iraq and distracted by Katrina, this is a logical posture for him to take. He has little to lose and much to gain by pressing forward.

Read the news article "Iran's Leader Critical in First US Visit," by Glenn Kessler (at the UN) - the Washington Post, 16 Sept 2005 (registration required)

Team Negotiations

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown was recalled to Washington to oversee national hurricane Katrina relief efforts. His replacement is Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

Team negotiations are often essential in today's business environment. They function like any other team and become dynamic entities in their own rights. By expanding a group, additional talents and perspectives are added. Additional members also increase communications and focus challenges. This can be beneficial to the process, or detrimental.

Like any other aspect of negotiations or management, teams need to be well managed.

If you are heading a negotiating team, you need to manage the people on your team. Even if they are "professionals" you are responsible for their preparation, research, and the role they will play. This is especially important if they are "professionals". Too often clients delegate the preparation and research aspects of a settlement conference to their legal staff. This would be fine if the issues were going to be resolved by simply applying legal principles. When it comes to other issues and overall strategy, the responsibility is ultimately vested solely with the lead negotiator. You need to insure that everyone on your team knows their role, is prepared, and most importantly, that you have set the global strategy for the session and the parameters for settlement.

If you find you have a weak team member, replace that person quickly. If they have been engaged in the fray, do so in a fashion that does not impair the progress you have made. Negotiations is little more than small group management.

In the case of Michael Brown, he had to be removed because he had become a liability. Michael Chertoff tried to smooth over the impact of his removal by saying it was part of a larger need: "The effort to respond and recover from hurricane Katrina is moving forward. We are preparing to move from the immediate emergency response phase to the next phase of operations," Chertoff said during a press conference. "Importantly, we must have seamless interaction with military forces as we move forward with our critical work in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. At the same time, we are still in hurricane season and need to be prepared to deal effectively with the possibility of future hurricanes and other disasters."

Negotiation Barriers

An anonymous complaint is filed against Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, the lead character on the new TNT series The Closer, while she is busy investigating the murder of a Hollywood producer. The investigation threatens to jeopardize her career. Rather than take the easy way out by pretending to be contrite to stop the investigation, Brenda focuses on breaking the case. Her squad members, knowing of the pending investigation, work behind her back to thwart the unfounded case against her.

Negotiators are human. They are subject to being distracted by personal problems, other matters and even exhaustion. To a lesser extent, they can be distracted by delays in a meeting, antagonistic behaviour of someone in the room, or even by the light coming in through the window.

Being comfortable is an essential ingredient to being effective as a negotiator or mediator. Before entering a settlement conference put aside you personal issues and clear your mind. If the other issues are such that you can't do this, don't start the negotiation. Ask for a postponement or send someone else. You need to have all of you faculties focused to do the job properly. Such distractions are barriers or obstacles that stand in the way of a successful negotiation. Better put, barriers are obstacles to effective communications.

In order to have an effective discussion, the people party to the discussion have to be able to hear, be heard, and understand each other. If you sense the other person is distracted, make it your responsibility to expose the cause. If it is going to impede the other person from listening or focusing on what you are saying, you may want to suggest postponing the meeting. If you feel it will cause the other person to rush through the meeting and grant concessions to wrap things up, then it may be advantageous to proceed. Until you know the situation, you can't judge what the impact will be on the negotiations.

You may actually want to call their attention to the fact that they weren't listening and ask them why. While this second tactic may seem rude, it can often uncover the reason for the barrier that can then be removed. For example, I recall a situation where the other person replied, "I'm really sorry, my daughter is very sick and I'm distracted." To this I said that I was sorry to hear about her daughter and we put off further discussions until the personal problem was resolved. In understanding her personal need, we dealt with each other as real people. This helped us to overcome some of the tougher issues we were facing as we had built up a level of trust and respect. The point is that unless communications are being heard, they should be forestalled until the other person is ready or capable of hearing what you have to say.

The mere act of acknowledging barriers to communications can give you the opportunity to work together to start to agree on how to resolve the barriers. Then it will be easier to discuss and resolve the real issues.

By the end of The Closer, Deputy Chief Johnson's staff had demonstrated to her and to the LAPD that she was finally accepted. This will change for the better how they function as a team.

Trust is Necessary When Negotiating

In episode eight of Showtime's popular series Huff, Izzy lectures Beth on trusting too much. "You know, trust is a device we use to put people on pedestals. The higher we put them, the harder they fall". "And your point is?" Beth asks. "The next time you catch yourself trusting somebody, look at that scar!" Izzy has been deeply hurt by her husband leaving her for another woman. Beth had naively let Huff's patient into their home trusting her when she said she would not hurt anyone.

Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussion, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews, literally any form of productive human interaction requires a basis of trust from which accords can be reached. Humans are inclined to want to trust each other. The need to trust one another is necessary to function in society.

Honesty or integrity is an essential personal characteristic for any negotiator regardless of the situation. If you have a good reputation others will listen with confidence. If not, you will have to sell each point hard and even then may still be doubted.

Make sure you mean what you say and that you are able to back it up with your actions or those of your company. Never intentionally give your word then go back on it. Sometimes situations change and you are forced to back out of an agreement. Never do so lightly. Explain the change that occurred. Clearly demonstrate your frustration at having to change your mind to the other person. Apologize profusely and empathize with the other person's angst. Try to find a way to make it up. You do not want others to think this is typical behavior for you.

If directed by superiors to reverse your word or go back on a contract, do not blame your boss or company. Even if that is the cause, it is your word that has been broken. Taking the heat personally demonstrates your sincerity and should save a good portion of your reputation. If such vacillation is habitual in your company, consider seeking another job where you can provide proper representation.

Izzy's bitter resentment demonstrates the damage caused by a breach of trust. For her, she has lost the ability to assume people are trustworthy. When this happens in a negotiation, the absence of trust will block any chance the parties have of opening up and solving the problem. In such a situation someone needs to suggest changing the negotiators or separating them. Often a mediator will put the parties into a permanent caucus setting and negotiate between the two parties, a process called shuttle diplomacy. This tactic diffuses the angst one or both of the parties has toward the other and may allow meaningful discussions to get started. You have to be willing to get burned from time to time, as Beth was, to effectively negotiate. It requires you to have faith in the other person.

Effective Communications

In the last 2004 episode of ABC's popular series, Desperate Housewives, Edie goes to Susan's. She's scared to be alone after the news of Felicia's attack spreads throughout the neighborhood. She is so consumed by her fear she can't understand Susan's attempt to tell her Zach's holding a gun on her. Storming off in a huff, she is completely unaware of the situation.

Edie has demonstrated the need for effective, two-way communications in stressful situations. Observing other people while talking enables you to make sure they are awake, alert and actually hearing what you are saying. If you find them to be inattentive, as in the case of Edie, stop what you are doing and find a way to get their attention.

Whether you are negotiating, telling a joke or simply discussing a topic, you are partially responsible to make sure others are listening. You can verify you have their attention by:

-Observing the non-verbal reactions to what you say. Watch to see if they are reacting to what is being said or if they are thinking of something else. Frequently you will find that they are planning what to say next rather than listening.
- Pepper your comments with questions designed to draw the other person into the discussion.
- Pause and let the ensuing silence pique their interest.
- Ask their opinion of a point you just made to confirm that they heard you and understood what you said.

Taking responsibility for being heard and understood is part of being effective as a negotiator.

Edie's role in this episode also illustrates someone who is so involved in her own issues that she is not hearing what the other person is trying to say. As a negotiator, you have a real need to not only hear but fully understand the other person's comments. Make sure you aren't preoccupied with other matters before entering serious settlement discussions.