Negotiating the BOTTOM LINE

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird must consume trice 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 goals. 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. Conversely, the negotiator has the goal of accomplishing something above and beyond the terms being negotiated. Typically the negotiation is part of a large initiative. He or she must appreciate the parameters of the negotiation and where to stop and walk away or when to agree and move forward.

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

Appreciate that the other person also has a make-or-break threshold. Look for the non-verbal signs that indicate you are getting close to that point. If you want to make the deal, you will strategically need to keep the negotiation just this side of the brink. If you press to hard, he may walk away costing you a good opportunity.

Signs that someone is being pressed close to their bottom line include:

- Increased nervousness including fidgeting, rapid blinking, folding of the arms, sitting back away from the table, and disengagement in the conversation.
- Increased animosity in the dialogue.
- More personalized attacks.
- Smaller increments in concessions.
- An attempt to interrupt, postpone or stop the discussion.

When you are pressed to your bottom line and still can't make the deal, you can consider bluffing as a final, desperate tactic. The word "no!" has great impact and can often save the day; or end it. Bluffing is a last resort tactic that should be reserved until all you now have at risk is failure itself.

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.