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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Negotiating Bottom Line Tactics

Knowing your objective, goal or bottom line is essential to maintaining your negotiating perspective. It is your compass during a negotiation. Do not confuse goals with bottom lines.

persuasion-sm.jpgYour goals are what you want to achieve while your bottom line is what you need to achieve. Anything that falls short of your bottom line, your basic needs in the situation, is too expensive and something you should be willing to reject. The bottom line is the point at which you should walk away if possible or to start bluffing seriously. In most cases, you should walk away as resolution is too expensive if you have to give away too much to reach it. When you reach your bottom line in a negotiation you essentially have three options:

1. To walk away. You reach the point where you have to walk away when the price of the resolution exceeds what you are willing to concede. It is not what you want to pay or receive; it is what you need to receive or can afford to pay. When you walk away the other party may reach out to bring you back to the table. That is when you know they want the deal more than you do and that you might be able to renegotiate the terms at or slightly above your minimum position.

2. To concede defeat. You may not be willing to sever ties with Raspe and may be forced to concede defeat to preserve the relationship. This is a viable if undesirable option unless someone is getting hurt in the process. If Raspe is winning through power tactics, especially if they involve physical attacks, you should seriously consider if the relationship is worth keeping.

3. To bluff fully prepared to walk away or concede defeat. iStock_000001545052XSmall-senior_partner.jpgThis approach is often effective because you essentially have nothing to lose. As a result you can become more aggressive in your arguments, more passionate in your style and more compelling in your delivery. The cautionary note is that you do not want to over use this tactic as being caught in a series of bluffs will result in Raspe becoming suspect of all of your arguments. Bluffing is very akin to lying and Raspe will develop a reluctance to negotiate with a liar.

Whatever it is that you are negotiating for it should have a specific value to you. Before you start to discuss relinquishing it in exchange for something else, you want to establish what the value to you is firmly in your mind so you don't give it away for less in the heat of the negotiation. Your bottom line is not your goal or objective. It is the worst-case scenario that you would or should accept.

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Negotiations Impact Relationships

You live, work, and play with others. To move through life, you must get along with other people in family, social, and professional settings. You must also get along with total strangers who happen to cross your path.

Winners feel good naturally. It is the way we are programmed. The feelings of losers, however, should also be considered. The fact that the other person lost, especially if the negotiation was a personal or social or even in some business scenarios, tends to breed feelings of resentment and ill will. In a on-going relationship you may win the battle only to damage the relationship.
At the end of negotiation find ways to make the other person feel good about something. In a business setting, compliment the other person's performance, professionalism, or knowledge.Indicate your appreciation that the other person was personally involved in working things out. Ease back from the transaction discussion to a more personal level of conversation. man_woman_fighting_handsoverears_sm.jpg

With a spouse or other family member reaffirm how much you care about the person, that you love him or her, and that you are glad things were resolved because your relationship is so much more important than the problem that caused the fight.

Even when dealing with your banker, a store manager or another casual acquaintance, a proper closure can be the basis of avoiding future conflicts. Indicate that you appreciate how the other person was able to be flexible and help solve the situation. Indicate that he or she has won some loyalty on your part. Try to give the other person a reason to be pleased with more than just the terms of the agreement.

Conflicts are usually short-lived and resolution offers the opportunity to move forward together. Over your life, it is the relationships that will prove valuable, not the little victories along the way. As you interact with other people you naturally balance a myriad of things to maintain the level of a relationship that you want. This does not imply that the other person has the same level of interest in the relationship. When you are negotiating it is important to appreciate how much the other person values the relationship and make sure that you are not threatening the relationship when simply trying to avoid taking out the garbage in the middle of a football game.

Be a good winner by reaching out to the other person to stem any residual ill will. The effort will pay dividends.

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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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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:
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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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Negotiating Requires Knowing Your Bottom Line

A key strategy in any negotiation is establishing your 'bottom line.' Knowing your "bottom line" is one of the most important aspects of being a good negotiator. The bottom line is the minimum or maximum acceptable threshold that you will accept concerning a given situation. It is the point at which you should decide not to continue to try to hold things together and simply walk away from the opportunity.

Constantly revising is part of a negotiator's strategy because negotiating requires knowing your bottom line or the limits you are willing to go to win an argument or closing a sale or purchase. Your "bottom line" depends on each negotiating event and can change as your situation changes. Typically in the business environment the negotiating parameters are mandated by company objectives, limitations and policy. Working within these guidelines allows company negotiators to negotiate with confidence that they will be able to deliver on the promises they make during a negotiation. Knowing these corporate bottom line parameters also signals when the negotiator should leave the discussion to seek more guidance or look for another opportunity for the company. Thus knowing the company parameters empowers the company negotiator.
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We are used to setting minimum or maximum parameters in the business or professional environment. In personal situations negotiating requires knowing your bottom line or the limits you are willing to go to win an argument. There is no reason the same discipline cannot and should not apply to interpersonal/family situations.

When you are negotiating personal matters ranging from credit card debt to what to do about an errant son or daughter you should try to set the point at which you are no longer willing to negotiate. This is especially important on the personal side as conceding too much only teaches your spouse or child that you will continue to do so and that he or she should continue to press their argument until you cave. This conceding on your part rewards bad behavior rather than deters it.

If you continually do this when disciplining a child you will raise a spoiled child who, later in life, may well have difficulties relating to his or her spouse when the 'adult child' doesn't get his or her way. As parents it is our responsibility to teach our children how to negotiate in a productive fashion so they can get along after they leave the nest.
It is even more important when dealing with an overbearing spouse. Your concessions will not only make the other person expect to prevail, it will cause you to lose respect for yourself and become even more dependent on what could become a damaging relationship.
Not to belabor the point but I need to point out here that I am not advocating never conceding. Just the opposite as we all need to be willing to 'give and take' to make any relationship work. What I am saying is that it is helpful to know in advance at what point we will no longer be willing to offer further concessions. To make this point graphically, a woman must draw the line at being physically abused. To let this type of behavior occur without recourse is simply asking for a bad outcome.

Negotiating requires knowing your bottom line or the limits you are willing to go to win an argument or closing a sale or purchase. When you approach your predetermined bottom line, the point where it's appropriate to be willing to bluff before walking away, you have two choices; bluffing or walking away. Depending on the potential impact on the relationship and how much you value the relationship, bluffing should only be considered as a last resort tactic. It should be reserved until all you have at risk is failure itself and you are fully prepared to walk away from the relationship as well as the situation because if you are caught in a bluff your credibility, integrity or sincerity will be damaged.

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Trader or Negotiator

What are you, a trader or a negotiator? Is there a difference?

Trading is the exchanging of comparably valued items, not negotiating. To trade is the exchange of commodities, assets or services on a par value. Negotiating contemplates the exchange of disproportionately valued commodities.

2_hands_holding_up_cash.jpgTraders focus on the intrinsic cost basis. Negotiators look to minimize cost or maximize their return. There are times when it may be better to trade then negotiate. Consider these examples.

Power or control over a situation often makes a transaction a simple trade. The person with the power establishes the rules and the rate of return. Those who find the terms acceptable participate. If not, they will seek another venue.

four_hands_holding_up_cash.jpg Limited availability of a commodity also creates a demand driven market. Sellers who hold such a commodity have the power to demand a high rate of return. Buyers who must have the commodity, oil comes to mind, have little choice but to pay the high rate while they develop alternative sources.

Hospitals and doctors enjoy another hedge against having to negotiate with you. Because you have insurance, you are not paying the bill (other than a small co-payment). That means you have little control over what is paid for the service rendered. More important, the provider has little incentive to negotiate with you or remain competitive. Bag_of_groceries.jpg And the insurance company has little incentive to negotiate a unique rate for you as they spread their risk over all the people they are covering.

Simple trading is also appropriate in many situations where time and convenience are more important than price. At the grocery, for example, you simply exchange money for a loaf of bread. There is no negotiation because you are too busy to try and the amount you might save is negligible. But no one says you could not negotiate with the manager if you wanted to do so. In fact, if you are contemplating a very large purchase for a party or office event there is absolutely no reason not to contact the manager, explain the situation, and inquire about wholesale pricing or other possible discounts he or she might offer to avoid risking that you might go to a competitor.

To answer the question, are you a trader or negotiator, the answer is 'both' depending on the situation, your time, and the balance of power.

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Solve Negotiation Problems By Focusing on the Details

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 to be able to engage in a dialogue that advances your cause.

The basic phases or steps leading up to any negotiation include:

• Identification of the problem.
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• Researching the issues.

• Researching the participants.

• Preparing for the negotiation.

• Separating facts from assumptions.

• Meeting the participants.

• Validating your facts.
• Adjusting your strategies.

• Testing your assumptions.

• Re-Adjusting your strategies (this is an ongoing activity).

• Establishing the parameters of the situation.

• Taking a break to reflect or regroup, if necessary.

• Making or soliciting the initial offer.

Each step deserves to be considered before it is undertaken. A negotiator should prepare, plan, and execute on the sub-task level to maximize the potential from every step of the process. Too many people approach negotiations from the end result, their objective, rather than focus on the steps of the process. This linear thinking results in loss of opportunities.

The skill of a negotiator is in the preparation and the art is in the execution.

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Three Negotiating Strategies

Negotiating is the process of enticing someone else to do what you want them to do for you. That can be selling something for less, providing service you need, or paying more for something you have. Obviously there are endless applications of negotiating but you get the drift.

When you interact with other people you are always negotiating in some way. Whether it is passing in the hall or closing a large real estate deal, you must reach an agreement. Getting to a consensus is the process of negotiating.man_woman_fighting_sm.jpgForcing your way on others may be effective while you have the power to do so but will quickly wear thin at work, at home or with friends.

If negotiating is so prevalent in our lives it makes sense to consider these three negotiating strategies:

1. Get to know the other person. How, you might ask, do you get to know a person you meet in the hall? One of you needs to step aside to pass. By observing the other person you can assess your need to be considerate of an older person, the fact that the other person is preoccupied and does not see you, or a threatening glare. In any negotiation the other person will reveal valuable information through nonverbal signals and innocent conversation. Being observant enables you to learn very quickly a number of things about the other person. Such strategic observation will help you decide what to do.

2. Understand what it is the other person wants. persuasion-sm.jpgEveryone has wants and needs. You may know yours but have you taken the time to understand the needs of the other person. How can you hope to negotiate anything unless you know what the other person wants? Ask. Most people will share what they want. It is up to you to ascertain what they really need. That is what you will have to pay.

3. Determine how important the issue is. There are four primary currencies in a negotiation. The commodity itself, compensation, time and the relationship of the parties involved. It is a balancing act to be efficient in how you expend these currencies throughout your day. Make sure the commodity you are negotiating for is worth your time, potential damage to your relationship with the other person, and what you will likely have to pay. Don't waste your time trying to win negotiations that take too much from your aggregate pool of these four currencies.

Negotiating is not rocket science but it does deserve your attention. Our lives are filled with interactions with others and how we handle pour negotiations impact not only the quality of our lives but that of those around us; especially those closest to us. These three negotiating strategies will help you extend due consideration to the feelings and needs of others. Bullying others into doing your bidding or always using power negotiating tactics threatens your relationships and limits what you accomplish in your life.

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Negotiating with a Stranger

To many negotiating is an awesome task shrouded in manipulation and connivance and plied by attorneys and politicians. The fact that often we have to negotiate it is with a stranger makes it that much more difficult. Trying to confront a car sales person, a banker or credit manager, a vender at the farmer's market, or any other person we run into on the street that has something we want can be very intimidating.

No wonder so many shy away from negotiate with a stranger. It is often easier to accept the terms being offered. This is no way to build confidence in standing up for your best interests. It is no way to live.

Get real! The birds do it. The bees do it. We all do it. Negotiate, that is!buying-a-car-sm.jpg If we all do it why not consider these 5 Tips on negotiating with a stranger to improve how we interact with others? These tips on negotiating are designed to help you better understand the art of negotiations and improve your relationships with those you have to deal with every day.

Tip #1 When negotiating with a stranger approach the situation as you would any casual conversation. Take some time to get to know the person a bit. Try to identify some common interests you might have. The objective is to stand out in his or her mind from all the other strangers that pass by each day. By making this stranger feel a little more comfortable with you, you are subtly encouraging the person to deal with you as a person and not just as a source of another sale.

Tip #2 When negotiating with a stranger your primary objective is to be heard and understood. Learn to communicate effectively with strangers and you will improve your negotiating results. Communicating is more about being heard than speaking. persuasion-sm.jpgIf the other person cannot understand you all the talking you do won't change that. To be effective when negotiating requires that you have a clear message and the ability to deliver it in a fashion that a stranger can understand.

Tip #3 When negotiating with a stranger consider why the other person is resisting your proposal so much. Could it be that you are asking too much of them or offering to little in return. Negotiation is all about wants and needs. An effective negotiator will take the time necessary to separate the two. Wants are those nice-to-have extras that can be bartered for other concessions. Needs are those things that one must get to go through with any agreement. Try to view the issues from the other person's perspective to better understand the reason for their reluctance and then craft a new proposal that addresses their needs a bit better.

Tip #4 When negotiating with a stranger consider how you are handling the situation. Are you bullying the other person? Are you threatening them in some manner? Consider how you are approaching the negotiation in terms of words and mannerisms to make sure you aren't changing a negotiation into a fight. When people are backed into a corner they may agree to get out of it but it is likely they will break their agreement later if they have an opportunity.

Tip #5 When negotiating with a stranger make sure you know what your goal is. Make sure that the prize you are seeking is what you really want. Sometimes we simply become too embroiled in an argument or negotiation to see that we are investing far too much time chasing something of marginal value.

Negotiating with a stranger should be easier than with someone you know because you don't have to worry about the collateral damage to the relationship. You should feel free to press hard for what you want and challenge the other person. Doing so without becoming abusive should enable you to not only garner the fruits of your labor but also build relationships that may be beneficial in the future. These successes will instill confidence in your negotiating skills making future negotiations easier.

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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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How to Negotiate A Salary

Salary discussions are more often feared than not. The problem with many salary negotiations is that the employee is often placed at odds with his employer. If the employee presses too hard, he or she may worry that they will lose favor and maybe even harm their career potential. If they don't press hard enough and fail to get a reasonable increase they may feel that they are being taken advantage of and loss their positive attitude.

What many employees fail to realize is that most employers wrestle with how to attract and keep good people. Naturally they want to contained employee costs but good employees are hard to find and harder to replace. There is a very real cost of losing a good employee.

So both the employee and employer have a common goal. That is, how to keep a good employee motivated while keeping costs reasonable for the company. The core issue is not over the amount of the salary but the value received for the salary paid. This is often missed in salary negotiations.

To maximize your earning potential consider these tips on how to negotiate a salary:

Establish Your Value
In order to warrant consideration for a significant raise you need to establish why you deserve to be treated differently from your peers. Value to a company comes from the work you are doing, the cost of training your replacement, and the potential value you have to offer to the company. Start your conversation with your boss off on the right foot by clearly establishing that you hope to build your career with the company. That means you are willing to invest years of your career life with the company if they are willing to similarly invest in you. By establish the fact that you think you have far more to offer than what your current job entails you are establishing the potential value you have as a loyal and happy employee.

Throw a Curve
Your boss will be expecting you to ask for a dollar-based raise. Instead ask him how else you might be used in the company or department that would be good for your career and the company. Indicate that you have more potential than the current position requires and want to contribute more. This will often throw your boss off as he or she now has to think outside the anticipated and prepared topics.

You can further this strategy by bringing a self-evaluation to the meeting and discussing your strengths and weaknesses openly. Highlighting those qualities that warrant the company investing in you with some career planning changes the discussion from what to pay you to how to utilize your potential. By discussing your potential and the self-evaluation you are providing the reasons for your boss to handle you differently from others in your pay grade.

Offer Some Alternatives
Salary is important but it is only thing the company can do for you. Many times a company simply can't meet your salary demands immediately. But there are other benefits that may be more valuable to you than a simple pay increase. Getting placed in a fast-track program to advance has strong future value. Assistance in getting an advanced degree also enhances your future earning potential. Even moving into a high pay-grade position but at the same pay rate while you get established in the new position enhances your future salary potential.

Don't forget about upgrades in medical coverage, dental coverage, 401k matching contributions, stock options, a company car, laptop or notebook, tuition assistance, day care assistance and company cellular phones may add tangible value to you. These perks may allow the company to add to your compensation without exceeding their mandated pay range for the position you hold and many of these perks are not taxed further enhancing their value to you.

when to negotiate a raise
Don't Limit Your Options
Your job will consume at least 30% of your waking hours. You need to like the job, your peers, your boss and feel that you are being paid for the service you are providing. To make sure you are making the right career decisions you should always be open to opportunities outside the company. If other companies or departments want you, your boss will value you more. Don't be afraid to look around.

Life is short. Make sure your work contributes to a full life and does not detract. When you are meeting with your boss take the opportunity to discuss potential growth and what he or she sees in their crystal ball for you over the long term. This not only focuses your boss on the value you have to offer but on what they see for the company of which they are a part. By opening this perspective you are becoming part of the team rather than just another employee trying to get more for doing the same old thing.

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How to Negotiate

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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How to Negotiate


The population of America is over 300,000,000 people. That means there are 300,000,000 different ways we negotiate as we each handle negotiations uniquely. Negotiating is a contact sport. We are always in the game. To be effective you must be able to persuade others to listen to your arguments, consider your arguments, and decide that they want to help you achieve your goals.

They do not need to decide that you are right. They do need to want to help you.

There are three essential elements in personal negotiating:

1. Persuasion
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.

Resolving the disparate interests is a matter of establishing a commonality of interests.
People can be motivated by many things. Simple fear, the desire to be liked, a respect for the other person, or simple avarice and greed are examples of persuasive techniques. But there are many ways to persuade others to help you. They all play off the core psychological drivers that effect most people.

In a relationship with a spouse, child or parent a consistent response, positive or negative, on your part will condition the other person to react in a specific way. Parents, teachers and employers use this persuasion tactic of reinforcing positive behavior. Be aware that the opposite approach can work to your disadvantage. If you bully or abuse your spouse or peers you can expect them to begin to expect this behavior and react to it. Eventually your actions may destroy the basis for the relationship.

Persuasion is not a bad thing. Everyone uses persuasion throughout their lives. If you are unable to convince others to want to help you, you will find it hard to achieve your objectives and maintain healthy relationships.

2. Compromising
Compromise, in a negotiation, is the process by which each party gives a little to get a little. It is the process of merging interests to yield a balanced outcome meeting the needs, not necessarily the wants, of the parties to the agreement.

Relationships require compromise. In order to get along long term both individuals must develop the desire to help the other achieve happiness and satisfaction. This is not easily achieved if you are always trying to win every argument, or every discussion, every fight.

It is important to learn to help each other achieve your respective goals. To do that you need to take the time to understand the other person's needs and wants.

3. Trust
For any relationship to work there must be a basis of trust. Negotiations are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the other. This need to trust each other is essential for groups of people to function well together.

If one person makes a habit of breaching a confidence, breaking his word or outright lying distrust will cause strife and distrust in the relationships. This distrust, if left unchecked, will grow into resentment and ultimately ruin the relationship.

Consider your future when contemplating breaching the trust with someone you care about. Is the quick victory really worth the long term impact?

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When to Barter - The Difference from Negotiating

Bartering is a tactic, not negotiating. To barter is to effect trade by the exchange of commodities, assets or services on a par value. Negotiating is an endeavor designed to add value by the exchange of disproportionately valued commodities.

Barterers focus on the exchange of specific commodities based on their intrinsic value. Negotiators look at all of the aspects of a negotiation and seek to identify potential ancillary incentives or concessions that can be combined with the primary commodities to leverage perceived value and thereby create incremental value.

It is important to know when to barter and when to negotiate. Consider the differences.

By creating perceived value negotiators are able to motivate others to do what they otherwise would be reluctant to do. Introducing other incentives is also a viable negotiating tactic to counter a power play. Without ancillary issues to thwart a frontal attack there will be little reason for the party with the most power or strength to compromise, AKA negotiate.

Bartering exposes one to power plays. Everyone knows that he who has the gold makes the rules. The basic concept of negotiation is to expand the conversation from a direct exchange of two commodities, assets or services by offering something of modest value to you which may be perceived as very valuable to the other person. In return for obtaining this ancillary commodity or service the other person should devalue their position on the original item. In agreement, both parties come away with more value than expected thus creating incremental value.

Rule #1 of Negotiating: The objective of negotiating is NOT to win the negotiation. It is to achieve your goal or objective. Giving something of marginal value to achieve a important objective is prudent use of your assets.

Rule #1 of Bartering: The objective of bartering is NOT to win the exchange. It is to exchange your commodity, asset or service for something of comparable value with a minimum of effort and time. Getting a needed commodity or service without having to expend your time and effort is prudent management of your calendar.

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. Negotiating has the potential of creating value from the process. It is like making 1+1=11 rather than 2. In your discussions you should always be on the lookout for what might be of value to the other person. This is best accomplished by taking the time to understand the needs and wants of the other party in addition to your own goals and objectives.

Simple bartering is appropriate in many situations where time and convenience trump the effort to try to negotiate a better price. At the grocery, for example, you simply exchange money for a can of asparagus. There is no negotiation because you are dealing with an intermediary who gains his or her benefit from very slim margins. They value you as a customer but only marginally. They hope to keep you as a customer by providing reasonable service, good products, competitive pricing and convenience. Your decision to purchase from them depends on how you rate the grocery compared to the competition; not based on how much you hope to negotiate off the price of a can of asparagus.

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.

Negotiating: What to Avoid When Negotiating

Everyone negotiates. It is part of socializing, working, marriage, virtually all aspects of our lives. But some negotiations are more important than others such as those with a spouse, boss or the armed robber you are facing down over the barrel of a gun.

Negotiating on a social or personal level impacts our personal lives beyond the immediate debate. The same applies to how we handle negotiations in the workplace or school. We should be aware of the potential collateral damage that can be caused by what we do or say when negotiating.

There are some things you should avoid when negotiating.

Don't Antagonize

If you want to get someone to do something they don't want to do, does it make sense to irritate or antagonize them when negotiating the matter? Unless you have a strong power advantage over the other person or maximum leverage, it is better to seek their support rather than use ridicule or anger to force the issue. This is especially true when the relationship with the other person is expected to survive the immediate situation.

Don't Bluff
Persuasion Techniques
Bluffing carries significant risk. As poker players know, if you are repeatedly caught bluffing your effectiveness will be undermined and you will be left with bartering as your primary negotiating tool. This is a one-dimensional tactic and not one that will add value to what you are exchanging.

Also, avoid bluffing when negotiating with a friend or family member. If you frequently get caught bluffing by a friend or family member, it can be perceived as a pattern of lying and you run the risk eroding trust with those you care about. Lose of trust is very damaging to any relationship.

Don't Corner

No one likes to feel helpless. Avoid when negotiating forcing someone into a corner. You are asking them to strike out, hit back or otherwise hurt you by cornering them. Even if they acquiesce at the time, they will harbor resentment at being forced to do what you want. This resentment will build overtime if you continually corner someone their resentment will likely build until they find a way to sever the relationship.

Don't Win the Battle and Risk Losing the War

It is fun to win. Most of us are programmed to do so. The problem arises is when we seek to always win and let our passion for winning damage the relationships we value. It is important to maintain your perspective when discussions get heated and pick the right battles to fight, much less win.

Some battles are meant to be lost strategically to allow wars to be won. Make sure the battle you are fighting is worth winning. The best way to do this is to assess what you will gain by winning and what the other person will lose. Avoid when negotiating battles where the losses of the other person will be significant, including damage to his or her ego, and your winnings trivial. These may be skirmishes that make sense to concede to preserve a valuable relationship.

Keep your perspective about the big picture, the relationship, as compared to the immediate situation. You may lose big by winning!

Don't Forget to Mend Fences

Everyone loves a winner; few like braggarts. Avoid inadvertently abusing the loser when you prevail. When you come out on top take the time to shore up the relationship with the other person. Whether it is a spouse, child, parent, friend, boss or business associate, you seldom want to jeopardize a relationship by not taking a little time to ease the other person's pain of losing.

This investment in the relationship will pay dividends down the road.

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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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Being Right Isn't Winning

Being right is an ego thing. Just because you feel that you are right does not make it so. It also does not mean that others agree; or should agree. Being right is a perception colored by interests, needs, history, emotion, perceptions, and, all too often, self-deception.

Thinking that you are right is almost always biased.

Don't let your ego blind your vision and foil an opportunity to advance your cause. Achieving your objectives and goals should be more important that assuaging your ego. We often lose sight of this. It is a dangerous mistake to make in a negotiation and can result in a satisfying victory at the cost of losing the war.

Equally important is to consider the other person's reaction to losing. Will a loss cause more than a material loss? Will it leave an emotional scar or, worse, terminal injury?

When handling conflict with family, friends business associates or even adversaries consideration should be given to the relationship and its value over and above the incident at hand. Do not ruin a valued relationship just to point out that you are right or gloating when you are victorious.

Negotiating can be a very personal activity. People become empassioned when arguing with those close to them because they care. They are emotionally invested with the relationship. How you handle these situations will color the emotional health of the relationship in the future.

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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.

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Why do we negotiate?

Is it our avarice and greed that compels us to try to best our fellow man or woman? It it the need to win? What is it in some of our psyches that motivates the quest to size the upper hand, to compel obedience, to prevail?

Negotiation stems not from avarice and greed but from our primal instinct to survive and thrive.

Man, alone and on his own, would fend of other men and scrounge for roots and berries while looking for the hapless female to take back to his cave. His negotiations were against his environment to see it though the night and, if fortunate, to seed a child. Life was simple if short-lived.

Those fortunate enough to find unprotected females soon learned the challenges of heading up small clans. Gathered around a small fire our ancient ancestors would find ways to work together to share the tasks of protecting and providing for their small clan and, most important, growing it. The size of the clan gave it the strength to find more food, work together to fell larger beasts and generally survive yet another night.

As clans grew and became more numerous, clans started to interact. The result was initially conflict based as they fought one another out of fear and distrust protecting their turf and their women and children. The currency of these negotiations was rather basic: death or life. Victory was clear.

In spite of their attempts to kill all outsiders who threatened them, eventually clans began to merge and learned to get along with each other. Civilization was sprung and these new entities did what....carried on the same habits as the original clans. They feared and distrusted other feudal states and tribes and did their best to eradicate any who came into their arena of influence. But commerce did emerge in spite of their baser instincts.

Times have not changed a lot. Be it 21st century nation-states or vast religions spanning the world, fear and distrust are the sentiments that prevail. But the incentives that drive those feelings are based on the need to provide and protect. So there is a balance of good and evil at play.

We negotiate to preserve the value of what we have achieved. In the dawn of man's existence the clan that learned how to raise and harvest produce sought to trade it for what they needed in a fashion that they benefited as much as possible from the exchange. Bartering quickly gave way to negotiating when the concept of currency was introduced. Currency gave a standard of value to be applied universally. Now barterers has the ability to try to increase the value of their labor by getting more currency for their product than bartering it for the neighbor's pig.

But currency is not the root of negotiating. It is only the measure. Currency is not solely monetary. Currency can be in the form of product, services, coinage or even promises of future action. Currency, in a negotiation, can be as illusive as good will.

Currency is what the negotiators decide it is and is unique to the negotiation at hand. In any negotiation, understanding the many dynamics of the currency at play is essential in the creation of value from the exchange. To negotiate properly one must consider all aspects of the situation and leverage those commodities to his or her advantage.

Properly done, the outcome will be far better than simply accepting the pig for three bags of potatoes.


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.

Creating Value as a Negotiating Strategy

Except in a physical confrontation winning does not mean the loser must lose or even know he has lost. The art in negotiating is the creation of value so both parties can be vested in the outcome.

Creating value is work. It requires knowledge, preparation and inspiration. The benefit, however, can be a mutually satisfying resolution.

Conflict occurs when two or more people compete over a commodity. This can be anything. Land, money, a woman, a man, the baseball bat or the last piece of cake are all commodities likely to cause conflict.

The solution to conflicts other than by brute force is the realignment of interests through the exchanging of concessions. If the focus of the conflict is very narrow, like the wallet in your coat in a dark alley, the opportunity to align interests is very limited. Your best option is to tender it and hope that you will gain the option to walk away unscathed.

When the focus is widened, then there are opportunities to create value through the redistribution of assets or concessions that are valued differently by the parties.

The disparity of valuation is the key to value enhancement. Because we are all unique, we value things differently. The differential allows for the creative realignment of interests to maximize the potential value of the aggregate commodities.

Sex sells. The age old profession repeatedly validates this. The professional knows that she can up her price by adding feigned affection and personal involvement in the basic act. The cost to her is little in tangible assets but the reward can raise the price of a furtive back alley service to a lucrative remuneration for an ego (his) satisfying performance. The act has not changed. The perceived value has.

Similarly in a dispute over a minor issue between a contractor and the customer, a simple apology by the contractor may yield a significant concession by the customer. The cost of the apology to the contractor is a bit of ego; the reward is incremental cold, hard cash.

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.

Manage Negotiations Like Dysfunctional Small Groups

We all know the saying “the best defense is a strong offense”. This is especially true in negotiations. Attitude and conviction of purpose can trump facts and reality. If you feel you should win you demeanor will reflect your passion and confidence. This is very convincing.

Bartering is about trading between equals. Negotiating is all about leadership. Attaining your goal requires your convincing another person to do something they prefer not to do. In the work environment managers entice workers to come to work and perform to certain standards. They do this through offering to pay the employee. This gets reasonable performance. To get exceptional performance managers must develop and apply leadership techniques. Negotiators must do the same. They must motivate exceptional performance on the part of another person or group.

If you don’t need the help of others there would be no reason to negotiate. You would simply do what you wanted to do with pure power.

In any dispute those involved make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups need to be lead or managed. Filling this role is what makes mediators effective at resolving disputes. Negotiators who take the initiative to become informal group leaders are most likely to have the best track record of achieving their goals.

Those involved in negotiations essentially are dysfunctional small groups. Negotiators should look at the various people around the table as a small but dysfunctional group in need of leadership.

The challenge is to motivate the group as a whole to focus on mutually beneficial goals.

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.

Fear - the Negotiator's Tool or Nemesis

Fear is what terrorists use against large, organized, powerful foes. In earlier times in Chicago a mafia underling would walk into a local bar or restaurant and observe, "This place could have a fire." The owner would logically say, "No way, never had one." The next day, after a fire broke out in the kitchen, the underling would return and say, "See, I could have helped you avoid that. A little insurance goes a long way."

This intimidation forced many law abiding citizens to pay for protection from the Mafia.

In the 21st Century Muslim extremists are using the same concept. They are trying to invoke fear into the western population to advance their cause. They cannot hope to confront most of the world's military power or even their own countries head on, so they resort to attacking the mass population in the name of Allah and their cause. If the masses become too fearful they will either promote aggressive retaliation or elect acquiescence candidates to avoid personal harm. Either way, the terrorist gains strength and power by usurping control of the population.

The best defense against a terrorist is to not change dramatically our daily routine, our perspective on life, and our willingness to do what we want to do. Add to this a little caution, some extra vigilance in being aware of what is going on around us, and not changing our basic beliefs will declaw the attempt of the terrorists to control us.

In a negotiation fear plays a large, strategic role in the outcome. Fear of failing, fear of the unknown, fear of not being helpful, there are many fears that can be used to advance a negotiator's cause. One of the most powerful tactics that few think to use is the fear of not being helpful.

Everyone wants to think that they care about others and want to be liked. A professional and adept negotiator will take the time to build a strong relationship with his or her adversary before really getting to the task at hand. In today's fast paced world, too little time is spent in this fashion. As a result, many negotiating successes are lost because people are too impatient, to hurried and dismissive of the value of building relationships.

How does fear serve the negotiator in this context? By becoming a silent motivator to get the other person to do something that he or she does not want to do. A sociopath has no regard for the feelings of others. He does not relate to others. The rest of us do. In the business environment, many try to be non-emotional. They get away with this sociopathic approach if the other person does not build a personal "bridge". Bank lending officers, credit managers, retail clerks all fit this mold. But who gets the best service at a store? Not the dour patron but the person who reaches out with a smile or kind remark. That is the person the clerk relates to and gives just a little extra. Why? Not because they have to but because they want to. This is a basic demonstration of the application of fear in a negotiation. The customer who has made the effort to build a personal bridge to the clerk has subliminally made that person concerned that they do not want to offend the person in some way. So they try to accommodate the patron.

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.

Power Balancing in Negotiations

Power in negotiations must be recognized and, if you are on the short end of the equation, balanced.

Other people presume to have power over us. Be they attorneys, accountants, doctors, clerks, teachers, or spouses who can make our lives miserable the power they presume to hold over us is based solely on the power we allow them to have.

Most power held by negotiators is illusory but powerful until it is challenged. Fear of everyday conflict, confrontation avoidance, can be overcome by understanding the process of any negotiation and learning how to garner enough power to impact the outcome of the situation in a positive fashion.

Surviving is getting along and accepting the status quo. Conquering is overcoming and prevailing. When we negotiate, the goal is to reach an agreement that meets our needs and advances our cause by satisfying some of our wants. As conflict is a constant part of our lives, it should be conquered rather than merely survived.

Conquering conflict does not necessarily mean crushing the other person. It means dispatching the negative connotation of conflict in your mind, the fear if you will, so that you can focus on resolving issues to advance your interests rather than merely preserving them.

The reality is that fear makes us act defensively, being defensive shuts down our ability to communicate. Lack of communication stymies negotiations.

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.

Do personality traits affect negotiation skills?

There are four primary negotiating styles. They are similar to management styles or personalities.

We learn to negotiate from birth through our experiences, education, and from the people around us. From our first cries when hungry, the reactions of others reinforce our predominant negotiating behavior. We learn based on what we find works with others. We also learn that different approaches work on different people and, as a result, we develop additional styles.

Each is a blend of the four primary styles. Our predominant negotiating style is the manner in which we are most comfortable when interacting with others.

Consider how you act with other people; especially strangers in a stressful situation. You can probably identify your predominant negotiating style pretty accurately as long as you listen to what others think of your style at home or around the office. We constantly negotiate with them. Their perceptions are a mirror available to you if you are willing to look.

We also have a natural style. This is the style that emerges when we are physically threatened or under severe stress. My natural style is much less collaborative! Understanding your predominant and natural styles will help you will understand how you react with others. Now comes the difficult part.

One's predominant style is a learned style. That means we can learn and develop different styles.

Now comes the difficult part.

Each negotiating situation deserves its unique style. One does not negotiate the same way with his wife as he would a business adversary, boss, or even the children. There are differing power bases and interests to be considered and respected. A negotiator is most effective when able to deploy a complimentary negotiating style to each situation.

Effective negotiators are like chameleons. They adapt to each situation. The benefit of being comfortable with a number of negotiating styles is that the appropriate style can be strategically used at will. In any negotiation one might use several different styles depending on the reaction of the other person.

Feelings Matter in a Negotiation

No one can win every negotiation. Many suggest making each negotiation a "Win/Win" situation. The reality is that there is always a winner and a loser.

It seems to be a more realistic strategy to seek a solution that allows both parties to come away with acceptable terms. Doing this provides each person enough incentive, positive or negative, to support and live up to any agreement that is reached.

Noteworthy is the mention of positive or negative incentives. Pain and fear are strong incentives. So is deprivation. The result of a negotiation need not be mutually beneficial. It just must result in mutual motivation to live up to the agreement.

This mutual incentive is the basis of every relationship whether it is in a marriage, friendship, or business setting. If you remove the incentive for either, the agreement may fail, and survival of the relationship may be jeopardized.

The feelings of losers must be considered. Over and above the incentive they may have to keep the agreement, the fact that they lost can breed feelings of resentment and ill will. In a close, personal relationship you do not want to win the battle but lose the war.

The practiced negotiator will always seek ways to make the other side feel good at the end of the negotiation. They know the relationship is often more important than the issue at hand.

Life's a Jungle

We live in a competitive environment. At home there is competition over who gets the car, who takes out the trash, who takes the first shower. In school it's who gets the boy or girl, who makes the touchdown, and who has the correct answer. At work, as would be expected, competition is rampant.

In today's civilized world competitors don't have the luxury of killing each other. To survive and evolve man has learned to lose and return to negotiate another day.

So what is so special about negotiating? After all, we all do it. From the dawn of time life has been about trying to improve our situation. This applies to man and beast alike. Man has just become more complicated in his quest to improve his situation. Competitive by nature, we are constantly trying to make sure others don't take advantage of us or, given a penchant for getting into trouble, we are trying to convince others to help us out of a bad situation.

Honing our negotiating skills and learning to apply them in our daily lives can change how we manage to make it through.

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

Handling Bullies in a Negotiation

Elephants, gorillas and lions all posture as though they think they are all powerful. All it takes is one retort from your trusty elephant gun to shake their confidence!

Bullies are not just kids on the playground or lurking after school. Unchecked they grow up developing the interpersonal traits of the habitual bully. As grown-ups, bullying is often a characteristic of those not in power but close to it. Often powerful managers will have excellent hatchet men as assistants. These alter ego manifestations wield school yard bullying tactics in the name of their patron. Often the assistant is so afraid of failure that they exceed their authority. Such behavior, while effective much of the time, can be a buffered situation that hinders effective negotiations. If you are being 'handled' by such an assistant, find a way to deal directly with the principal.

Large developers are well known for training their leasing managers to negotiate from a "my way or the highway" perspective. This aggressive posturing is viewed as bullying by the many tenants who have to try to deal with them. Many tenant reps put up with this attitude because they are afraid not to make the deal. But it is necessary to be bullied. If the tenant rep takes the time to learn the facts surrounding the developer's financing, the vacancy rate in the center, and what other tenants are talking to the developer, they can determine whether the demands of the leasing manager are real or feigned. If feigned, tenants should be able to back the bully down and negotiate reasonable terms. If not, they should try to go around the leasing manager to someone willing to discuss the merits of the situation.

Some developers are bullies with power. That is, their developments are so strong that they are able to make the rules of the game. They should remember that when the time comes that they lose their power, and it almost always does, then they can expect retribution from the tenants they have abused in the past.

If you possess the power to dictate terms in a negotiation, do so in a way that does not appear to be bullying, autocratic or dictatorial. You want to structure an agreement that both parties want to keep. It is always good to have everyone leave the table with some self-esteem intact. In business, people change positions and companies a lot. You never know if the person you abused last week will be sitting across the table from you when the power equation is reversed. Build relationships as you meet and deal with people. The relationships you develop along the way will pay dividends in the future.

If the bullying is habitual in a personal or family relationship, you have the problem of not being able to get away to let things cool down or avoid future incidents. You need to consider your options. Determine if it is a real physical threat, in which case you need to get out and try to work things out after you are safe. Assess if the behavior can realistically be modified. Sometimes mediation and negotiation cannot change a situation and different professionals are needed. Sometimes there simply is no solution.

The Currency of Negotiations

Having a good supply of beads and mirrors is wise if you are venturing into the jungle. That is unless you don't mind staying to be dinner.

Negotiation is about currency. Currency can be far more than the money involved in a discussion. Understanding the currency of a negotiation is essential in knowing how best to negotiate the situation. Currency differs depending on the situation. Always identify and consider alternate or ancillary currencies in a negotiation.

Examples of alternate or ancillary currencies might be:

In All Situations:gold_items_sm.jpg
- Time: To everyone time is important. A negotiation takes time. Time away from other activities. Second to money, time may be the next most important currency in a negotiation.
- Ego: From birth we have been taught that to win is good; to lose is bad. While everyone can't always win, no one likes to lose. If you can make the other person feel like a winner, his actual monetary loss might be come acceptable.
- Opportunity: There are only so many hours in the day. Other opportunities will always be pressing. Future opportunities, however, may become part of the currency of the current transaction if presented as potential benefits of working something out. This adds value to the terms for the other party and can make the difference between acceptance and rejection of your offer.

In Business Settings:
- Missed Opportunities by Meeting: Everyone is pressed for time in corporate life. Going to one meeting usually is at the cost of attending another. Both parties at a meeting have already made an investment of precious time. They have also foregone another opportunity to attend. You can strengthen the other person's impression of your sincerity in meeting and trying to work things out by revealing what you have given up to attend this meeting.
- Recognition: Everyone needs to be recognized. If you make it a point to acknowledge the other person's contribution to the process, to the outcome, you are providing an inexpensive incentive for the person to continue on and try to reach an accord.
- Power: Powerful people to be reminded that they are powerful. By seeming to acquiesce to a powerful person can often extract concessions other lose at a small cost, some of your ego. Effective negotiators understand their goals and objectives and strategically give up some personal satisfaction to make a deal work or to cement an agreement that is marginally acceptable to the other person.
- Prestige: If the arena within which you are negotiating has a special intrinsic value to those able to participate, use that attribute as collateral to be involved. Some tasks have great PR value in the corporate or public arenas. Don't miss the opportunity to parlay ancillary benefits of a deal into tangible returns.
- Advancement: To many corporate negotiators success brings advancement. When casually discussing each other's background seek to find out if this particular discussion has special meaning to the other person. It may be that a successful session is as important as the primary terms to the other person. If you know this, you can extract value on other fronts in exchange for reaching a final agreement.
In Personal Relationships:
- Love: This currency in a relationship should not be put on the table cavalierly. It is the basis for the couple being together. Threaten the love in a relationship may destroy it.
- Respect: While sex is important, respect trumps sex every time. Men, women, parents, children all deserve and require the respect of those they love. It is a powerful currency in a conflict.
- Affection: This is far different than sex and can be just as powerful. Either the man or woman can use affection to shape behavior.
- Sex: Women have used this commodity since the first bite of the apple.
- Privileges/Responsibility: Children are eager to gain freedom and personal responsibility. These are valuable commodities the parents hand out in exchange for good behavior, specific performance (grades or chores), or as other rewards for the desired responses.

Opening the discussion up to these alternate or ancillary currencies gives the everyone involved the chance to come together on a myriad of terms rather than focusing on one point of disagreement. This makes the primary term less important and may convert a troubled situation into a mutually beneficial accord.

Ancillary currencies may seem to have little or no value to you but may be vitally important to the other person. Converting idle currencies in to valued commodities in a transaction is how negotiators create value. mediators are adept at bringing out the importance of public apologies, admissions of guilt, and mere recognition of another person's situation as a means of diminishing the importance of the primary matter being mediated. The process of mediation is based on the very human process of interaction. Typically the parties to a mediation have squared off and stopped communicating a long time before the mediation. The mediator brings them together and forces communication. This, in and of itself, facilitates the ultimate resolution.
By incorporating ancillary currencies, you will increase the opportunity to craft an agreement that yields a greater return on your investment than merely bartering dollars. Often it enables you to extract value from the other person for something that you intended to provide anyway.

What is Negotiating
When to Accept an Offer
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What to Avoid When Negotiating
How We Negotiate
The Difference Between Bartering and Negotiating
Learn to Communicate
The Art of Persuasion
Ten Persuasion Techniques
How to Negotiate

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.

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.

Managing from the Bottom Line

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird must consume twice it’s body weight in food each day. This is not a goal or objective. It is the bottom line!

Mediators and negotiators by definition have different bottom lines. While both are seeking to reach an agreement, that is the sole and absolute goal of the mediator. He has no vested interest in the terms of such an agreement.

Knowing your bottom line is perhaps the most important aspect of being a good negotiator. The bottom line, the minimum that you will accept, is the point that you must decide whether to continue to try to hold things together or simply walk away from the opportunity.

In most cases, this is the point where you become willing to bluff. Bluffing is a last resort tactic that should be reserved until all you have at risk is failure itself.

Share your bottom line with your co-negotiators. If you are uncomfortable doing this, you should consider replacing the person causing the concern. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Your concern about being totally transparent with everyone on your team tells you something about the team or your management style.

Do not confuse your goal with your bottom line. They are vastly different. Your goals are what you want to achieve while your bottom line is what you need to achieve.

Bluffing is a dangerous negotiation tactic.

A pack of wolves can smell your fear. Yelling and shouting is better than running, but not as good as firing your rifle if only you had remembered to bring it!

Do not employ bluffing as a tactic unless you are prepared to have it called. Bluffing can be a strategic mistake if you can't back it up.

A bluff is a venture into the unknown. You are calculating the other side will back down or not take the challenge. If you are wrong, you will have to perform or be caught in a bluff. Once you are caught bluffing, the other side will tend to assume you are always bluffing. It is essentially being caught in a lie.

Strategically it is safest to bluff when you have nothing to lose. Sometimes last ditch bluffing pays off. Sometimes it doesn't. The odds, obviously, are in your favor of improving your position as compared to doing nothing and accepting defeat.

There are times when you know you have cornered the other person. If the person then proffers an obvious bluff, you may want to consider it. It can be strategically prudent to grant a minor, ancillary concession to shore up the transaction rather than see the deal collapse and try to make the deal again.

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.

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 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.

Eventually Negotiators Must Agree

For a negotiation to be successful, it must end in agreement. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. He has to want to take a drink.

The parties to any agreement both have to be willing to sign. This is different than wanting to sign. An agreement does not necessarily need to be equally satisfying. It just needs to be agreed to. Negotiators and mediators know that disparity of satisfaction has little to do with getting the parties to agree.

What is important is that both sides, individually, feel that they have gotten something out of the agreement.

Timing is everything. Agreements shouldn't be rushed. But a negotiator can prepare the way to reach an accord. Effective mediators and negotiators know this and use the negotiating process as a means to building an environment that promotes agreement.

Practice makes perfect. Actually, we all learn by practicing. Getting the parties comfortable with committing is part of achieving a global accord. All too often a negotiator tries to rush to an agreement only to be frustrated when the other person pulls back at the last minute. The problem is that the other person is psychologically not prepared to agree. This may well be an unconscious reaction to being pressed too hard to do something that he knows, in the end, he will agree to do. But undue or ill-timed pressure may cause him to rethink, and often change his mind.

One can pave the way to reach a global accord by making it a point to recognize each sub-agreement the parties make during the conversation or negotiation. These agreement opportunities can be as simple as deciding where to meet, to selecting a restaurant for a lunch break. They will also apply to small issues within the context of the discussion. These small achievements of collaboration establish a pattern of cooperation that prepares the parties mentally to accept the final terms.

Unless you have pre-emptive power and intend to use it, realize that you have the power to do everything but make the other party sign the agreement.

Few negotiations are concluded through invoking absolute power. Those that do would be better referred to as mugging the other person. In such situations, one side is out to decimate the other with little regard to the damage done in the process. This is an abusive situation, and after the dust settles, the oppressed party will be laying in wait for any excuse to break the contract or simply leave.
Power driven agreements are typically short-lived. Given the chance, the other person will renig as soon as possible.

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.

When to Accept an Offer

Crossing a rushing stream is easier if you take the time to locate the stones creating a path across the stream before wading into the water.

The art of negotiating is most required when you are presented with an offer that is acceptable; but you don't know if it is the best you can do!

When it's time to stop negotiating and accept the terms is an art of timing.

While you do not want to needlessly leave anything on the table, you do not want to over negotiate a point and risk losing the whole transaction. Understanding your business model enables you to know when you have acceptable terms. Knowing the other person enables you to know when you have pushed him as far as possible.

Persuasion Techniques

How do you get to 'know' the other person in the time span of a negotiation?

You do it by observing how he or she reacts/responds to various aspects of the negotiation. As you discuss terms, make offers, and react to offers made to you, carefully observe the non-verbal reactions of the other person. These reactions become the benchmarks you will need to evaluate how hard you have pressed them when the final offers and counter offers are being made.

No conversation should be treated as idle conversation. If you are not studiously learning something about the other side you should assume they are learning a lot about you. Learn to mask or vary your reactions, especially the non-verbal reactions, to keep them off balance. Negotiating is in no small part bluffing.

Related Content
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What is Negotiating
The Art of Persuasion
Ten Persuasion Techniques
What to Avoid When Negotiating

How to Negotiate

Knowledge Improves Ability as a Negotiator

In negotiations, one's areas of expertise are not only defined by his mastery of the art of the process but his mastery of the issues being negotiated. You cannot expect to negotiate an outstanding real estate transaction unless you are well versed in the economic, cyclical nature, demographic, and geographic aspects of the specific real estate segment you are considering.

Negotiating is not just the process of bartering. It involves creating value from ideas and altering wants and needs to achieve an accord that is compelling enough to get both of the parties to agree. A negotiator cannot achieve this without being well informed of the subject matter.

A mediator, on the other hand, needs a working knowledge of the subject matter but need not be an expert in the field. His or her role is to bring structure to the settlement discussions and help forge a viable solution. Mediators are not creating value for their own accounts. They are seeking to introduce enough avoidance value so the parties can agree to settle for less than they feel they are entitled to in order to avoid the risk of losing more before a judge or jury.

A negotiator's ability stems from his or her knowledge of the collateral being discussed. The ability to negotiate is a hidden asset skilled negotiators possess. Frequently, they hide this attribute by feigning limited experience or lack of knowledge in "handling" such matters to put the other person at ease. This also may give the other person a false sense of superiority.

When a skilled negotiators meets the other negotiator for the first time, he or she will take the time to learn whether the other person is knowledgeable about the underlying subject matter. Many landlords are able to outwit and out negotiate corporate representatives from very large, powerful companies simply because they know more about the subject matter. Corporate employees handling real estate acquisitions for restaurant and retail companies often know a lot about real estate and very little about their industry. Landlords, on the other hand, are extremely well versed in the shopping center business, the economics of leasing and the dynamics of their tenancies. If you are a corporate negotiator, it is wise to learn the basics of how your business is run, what it takes to make a location profitable, how the occupancy costs impact cash flow, and what the drivers are that generate a strong top line. Being armed with this knowledge will enable you to meet the challenge of a well-prepared landlord and seek viable lease terms for your company.

It is not about how cheap you can get a property. It is about getting a property at a price that allows your company to make money.

Similarly, when negotiating to buy a home, you need to focus less on the cost than the affordability of the purchase price and mortgage terms.

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.

Business Management Skills in Negotiations

In any dispute those involved make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups need to be lead or managed. Filling this role is what makes mediators effective at resolving disputes.

Similarly, negotiators who take the initiative to become informal group leaders are most likely to have the best track record of achieving their goals.

Negotiations essentially are dysfunctional small groups. All small groups need to be lead to achieve their goals. Group leaders establish objectives and set a course to obtain the desired results. Negotiators should look at the various people at the table, from both sides, as a small but dysfunctional group in need of leadership.

The challenge is to motivate the group as a whole to focus on mutually beneficial goals.

Mediators, trained to manage such small groups, have the benefit of being assigned the role of leader. Negotiators must acquire the role through application of management skills to capture the respect and attention of their opponents. Demonstrating expertise, professionalism and passion are common traits of strong business leaders. These traits also serve the negotiator well when establishing a position of group authority.

A manager and a mediator have their positions established by others. Negotiators have to earn theirs without directly confronting the other person. Collaborative managerial styles are excellent means of subtly establishing a role of leadership. Such styles include:

- Establish a Common Goal: By giving each person a vested interest in the outcome of the negotiations you establish a common cause that should underscore the reasons behind each collective decision the parties make. Identifying a common goal is the first step towards establishing an informal, small group which can be lead.

- Parity of Power: By recognizing the power bases of the parties, you can dissolve misconceptions about who has the most power and create an environment where both parties need each other to resolve the situation.

- Persuasion: Mediators are masters of group persuasion. They must get warring parties to set aside their differences and reach an accord. Most people are used to being told what is right to do. A mediator is unable to make the decision for the group. He does not function as a judge or jury. He must encourage each of the parties to set aside their animosity and strive to work out a solution. He may have to persuade a recalcitrant party to let go of their emotional baggage and focus just on the settlement terms. He can do this by re-stating the other person's position or proposal in a more favorable light. He may remind the disgruntled party of the time and expense of pursuing the matter in court and point out that settling during mediation might cost less in the long run. What the mediator needs to do is get the party to soften an absolute rejection so some dialogue can start.

Making others want to do things they don't initially want to do is what successful mediators and negotiators do. Hitting the other person over the head with facts and demands is a good approach if you have power and authority on your side. If not, you must resort to the basics: inform, educate, and enlist.

Inform - By informing the other person of salient facts, tangible information and logical arguments, you are providing reasons for the person to reconsider their position without losing face.

Entice - By creating alternative and/or innovative incentives for the other person to reconsider their position, you are expanding the negotiating arena to include other commodities that may make an otherwise untenable accord viable.

Enlist - By seeking the other person's help in solving the dilemma, you are cashing in emotional concessions in return for advancing your cause.

All three approaches are basic management tactics designed to get the other person to do what you need him to do. They work as well in the negotiating arena as they do in the business environment. Essentially they are non-threatening management styles designed to motivate another person to action.

Being able to capture a leadership role within a negotiating small group environment is a management challenge. If you can achieve it, you will be in an excellent position to also broker a settlement or construct a viable accord.

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.

Basic Management Skills in Negotiations

Any situation involving two or more people is a management opportunity. Those who take the initiative will typically prevail whether it is a physical confrontation or simply deciding which movie to see. Negotiations are only slightly more complicated management opportunities. Unlike a fight where blows are thrown, the combatants must feign civility and control. Initiative and leadership, however, are the most reliable tactics to be used to prevail.

Those involved in a dispute make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups intrinsically need to be managed. This is what makes mediators effective in settling disputes. They are adept at taking control and managing the mediation process. Negotiators can benefit from learning mediating techniques. Parents, too, benefit from approaching family disputes as a group dynamic situation in which each family member has a role and voice. Using the mediation technique of inclusion to integrate everyone's needs into the solution can provide a mutually agreeable group decision.

How does one take control of an informal group?

By exerting influence and demonstrating leadership traits. In a negotiation, there are some ways to take the initiative:

- Initiate the call to arrange for the meeting.
- Host the meeting where you will have the ability to perform administrative tasks through your staff for the group.
- Prepare and present (or have on the table) an agenda for the meeting.
- Acting as the host, introduce everyone to each other and make sure they have coffee, water or anything else they may need.
- Position your pad and pen at the head of the table before the others arrive.
- Before someone else suggests it, call the meeting to order.

These seem like small things but they demonstrate your confidence, your can-do attitude, and your control of the environment. All that is left is for you to control the discussion. That is not as easy. But you will have made a good start.

Managing implies taking responsibility for the actions of others. A negotiation leader or a mediator delegates responsibilities not only to his co-negotiators, if any, but to the other side. This delegation of assignments serves not only to get the job done but also to give everyone a vested interest in the outcome. A mediator advances the process by directing and delegating the participants in a mediation. This process serves to make both parties valuable to the process, more equal in their respective statures, and, ultimately, more likely to be able to come to reach an agreement.

In a negotiation, group participation can have a similar impact. By getting both sides involved in working together, the resulting 'attitude' should be more supportive of reaching a mutually viable accord.

Two ways to get two people openly at odds to work together include:
Start with simple tasks that are unrelated to the primary issue.

1. Suggest the other person come with you to the coffee room to help get the coffee, cream and sugar.

2. Suggest methods of sharing information. "If I can explain to you how I have valued the property will you demonstrate to me your cost basis?" This is a tactic to get the parties involved in valuing a piece of real estate by working together. It calls upon each to be an expert in their own right. It also allows you to gather essential information.

Disorganized groups without leadership quickly collapse into chaos. Chaos rewards the stronger of the parties; it does not yield a negotiated settlement. Chaotic situations offer opportunities for someone to intervene and bring some order to the situation. Effective negotiators seek to control the environment and manage the process. It is better to be deciding what is going to happen next than to be told what to do.

Don't relinquish your role to another unless doing so tactically serves your ends. There are times to defer to another person to advance your cause.

Decisions and Negotiating

Negotiators must be able to make decisions. Large decisions, small decisions, important decisions and mundane decisions. The process of making decisions is what advances a negotiation to its final outcome. Decision-making requires confidence, awareness, information, and courage. Most of all, it requires being prepared.

Prepare properly and agree to meet only when you are comfortable deciding what to do. Even though you may be meeting to gather information, the other person may present an opportunity for you to make an offer or accept a proposal. Being prepared to consider and act on such an opportunity enables you to take advantage of "The Moment".

There are those times when things just seem to go right and an opportunity to act presents itself. Unless you know what you want and need from a given situation, you will not be in a position to respond. Failing to do so may cost the deal later when the other person discovers other options or rethinks his or her offer.

People naturally resist making decisions. This is especially true when they feel they are being pressured to do so. To be an effective negotiator one needs to know how to prepare others to make decisions and commit. The climate of the negotiation plays a significant role in making everyone comfortable with making important decisions. Mediators work hard at giving everyone at the table a sense of power. They also use caucus or breakout sessions to separate people when emotions become too volatile. A negotiator can assume the role of a mediator in any negotiation by being sensitive to the climate of the discussions. By subtly taking responsibility for the "comfort" of the others, the negotiator assumes the mantle of a small group leader and may gain the ability to direct the discussion without having to force the issues through confrontational tactics.

Preparing for the Moment of Decision Tactics:

- If tempers have flared during the discourse, seek ways to mend the personal fences before pressing for decisions. People need to feel in control to commit willingly.

- As you approach major decisions it is helpful if you have laid the groundwork with small decisions along the way. This gets everyone used to committing and following through on their word.

- Review the terms carefully and solicit edits form everyone. By incorporating their changes they are becoming invested in the agreement.

- Encourage everyone to read the document one final time. You are intentionally slowing the process to ease the stress. Watch how others react to reading the document. If you see a cloud of doubt on someone's face, stop them and ask what is bothering them. You want everyone as comfortable as possible before placing pens in their hands.

- Review the reasons the others are agreeing to the terms and reinforce why their decision is a good one.

- Take a break and suggest a beverage or something to interject a chance to relax before actually sitting down to sign documents. Well timed breathers are a great way to diffuse mounting tension.

Decisions are pivotal moments in negotiations. Treat each decision, even the small ones, with respect. This builds a degree of comfort on the part of the other person in the process. Once a decision is made, reinforce why it was a good decision. It does not hurt to intimate that you may have conceded more than expected to build up the other's ego a bit. You want each decision to become easier as you build toward the really important decisions.

Negotiation, like any other process, can be managed. Who chooses to manage the process will likely prevail at the end of the day.

Problem Solving Skills and Negotiation

No one can negotiate until they understand the situation. Basically there is a problem to be solved that involves getting two or more people to agree on something. Basic problem solving is part of the skill set of any effect negotiator.

Defining a problem is critical. Often people fight over ancillary issues rather than the real problem. In a mediation the mediator takes the time to source, identify and quantify all the micro issues that create the underpinnings of the primary argument. Mediators are trained to resolve the ancillary issues so that the primary problem can be resolved.

Problem Identification Tips:

- Don't accept the obvious; seek out underlying issues or other problems. Often the other person or the parties may be unaware of the impact of these 'lesser' issues.

- Prioritize the issues and seek to resolve the minor ones first. This will create a more positive environment and may help lead to a global agreement.

- Seek to put emotional reactions in perspective. If you can diffuse any prevailing anger or distrust, you will have made a major advance toward reaching an agreement.

- Separate the "wants" from the "needs" and focus on satisfying the "needs" of each party. Often it is the "wants" that create the most separation. And they are the least important aspect of the problem once they are properly identified as "wants".

- Don't ignore or dismiss emotional needs or wants. Sometimes their satisfaction is more important to one of the parties than the monetary aspects of the situation.

Problem identification does not stop when you enter the fray. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying to identify additional irritants or issues. Listen for clues on how to satisfy a specific need using alternative consideration.

Problem solving is the meat of dispute resolution. By expanding the possible settlement options the mediator is seeking to solve the dispute by pairing unlikely party commodities so that both emerge feeling a sense of victory. Win/Win negotiating is not so much about appeasing both sides as it is about pairing needs and satisfiers so that both parties come away with more than they gave away in their minds.

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.

Crisis Management

Katrina has thrown America a major curve. After weathering the storm everyone exhaled. Then, the following day, the levies gave way and havoc erupted. The ensuing crisis has focused the attention of the world on America's ability to handle the situation.

Having good crisis management skills is an essential characteristic of an effective negotiator. No matter how well-prepared, how you have planned, or how ready you are for a negotiation, the unknown can always through a curve into the process. How the unexpected is handled often determines the outcome of a negotiation.

Managing a crisis requires:

• Understanding your own strengths and capabilities.
• Knowing where the high ground is and how to get there.
• Being able to gain the confidence of others and lead them to safety.
• Having the strength to weather the store and make the trek.
• Caring enough to make the effort to prevail.
• Taking action and following through to complete the task.

In negotiations when your final overtures are thwarted or an agreement made is broken at the last minute presents a crisis situation. Times like these require regrouping, on-the-fly assessment of options, and concise decision-making. Only good preparation and a strong knowledge base will prepare you to step into the breach and save the day. Whether you do it is up to you. It takes confidence, conviction and a passion to prevail.

Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security and FEMA, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and everyone else involved on the ground and in the chain of command have had to cope with correcting a problem that emerged from what initially was thought to have been a near miss. How they handle the situation on a go-forward basis is far more important that understanding how it happened. That will come later. In a crisis you look forward, make a plan, and attack the plan. You can look back later. What is essential is that the victims are attended to, the areas impacted are stabilized, and rebuilding is not only started but completed.

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.

Collective Dreaming - How to Win in Negotiations

Empires are built on dreams. Olympic champions start by dreaming of winning their next match in middle school. In last season's closing episode of ABC's television series Lost, Locke shared the spirituality of why he has been placed on an island in the South Pacific that has healed his legs. Jack, his protagonist in the series, is limited to caring for the others and hoping to be rescued.

Locke is much more likely to sleep peaceably dreaming of something more than just surviving each night while Jack lies awake wondering what the next challenge will be that he will have to overcome.

According to Peter Drucker, successful companies such as Harley-Davidson and Starbucks work because they are selling a lifestyle or an image rather than simply a product. Successful companies offer more than a commodity. They create a collective dream-need through marketing that only their product or experience will satisfy.

No one enters a negotiation without an expectation of the outcome. Nor should they. Their expected outcome is their dream. To achieve that dream, they must find a way to make it the other person's "dream" as well.

Most focus on their individual needs and wants without caring about the other person's needs. To excel at negotiating, the strategy of collective dreaming is required. Collective dreaming is the process of getting everyone involved in the discussion and then having the group envision the same objective. That is, getting all concerned to want to achieve that objective albeit for differing reasons. Then they are more apt to work together to make it happen.

To do this a negotiator needs to look beyond his or her interests and conjure the ultimate outcome of the negotiation if successful for the group. Then, acting as an informal leader, he or she must present that dream to the entire group demonstrating how, if achieved, it benefits everyone.

It does not cost anything to consider another person's needs or perspective. In the coming season of Lost it will be interesting to see whether Locke or Jack prevail in creating a common goal for the survivors.