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.

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

How to Negotiate

Negotiating Tip Brainstorm to get to a Win/Win Negotiation

The best possible resolution to a conflict is one from which both people walk away thinking they gained more than they expected from the exchange. This will achieve a win/win solution. This can best be accomplished when incremental value is created through the negotiation process.
Persuasion Techniques
The exchange of information is the crux of negotiating. Unless the parties at the table begin to work together to resolve their issues the confrontation is merely a brawl or barter neither of which creates value. Brainstorming is essential. It serves to resolve differences and, possibly, create unexpected value to one or more of those involved.
Brainstorming can be used introduce additional incentives or opportunities for inexpensive concessions into a negotiation.

The whole-pie approach to negotiations is based on the theory that the sum of the parts exceeds their individual values. Before focusing on the basic or primary terms of a negotiation, work with the other side to identify as many additional wants or needs as possible. three-people-closing-agreement-sm.jpgThis expands the scope of the discussion.

These incremental incentives/concessions potentially add value to the entire negotiation. They may also provide incentives that may help counterbalance concessions required by one of the parties. The key to adding value through brainstorming as part of the outcome of a negotiation is the disparity of value each incentive/concession holds for those involved. If you do not mind granting a concession and the other person values the concession highly enough to agree to another concession you value, incremental value has been created. Both of you come away with more than you conceded (in your respective minds).

Related Content
Six Basic Negotiating Tips

How We Negotiate
What to Avoid When Negotiating
How We Negotiate

How to Negotiate

When to Negotiate a Raise

Timing is everything, right? Absolutely! Trying to determine when to negotiate a raise is especially trying when so many companies are downsizing. The problem facing many employees is the real cost of living is increasing while their disposable cash is shrinking. They are caught in the middle of an inflationary period and a time when companies are being forced to cut back costs and/or people.

Timing when to ask for that needed raise is very important. To improve your chances of getting the raise you deserve consider these timing tips.

Consider the company's recent news.
You are aware of your situation and needs. Before deciding when to ask for a raise consider the condition of your company. Read earnings statements and news stories to get a good feel as to how the company is doing. If it is struggling, you may have to choose a better time. If it is doing well, now may be the best time to ask.

when to negotiate a raiseAssess your performance.
So you want a raise. Do you deserve it? Has your performance on the job been good enough for your supervisor and their boss to have taken notice? Have they had reason to reprimand you for being late or failing to meet a deadline? Ideally a request for a raise should be timed when you have done something of merit and, hopefully, been noticed.
Identify how you can save money or make more money for the company.

Demonstrating why you have earned a raise or how you might pay for it is an excellent argument when seeking more compensation. If there is a way to show how you have brought in more business, added to the bottom line, or have an idea that would do either of those things that is a perfect time to ask for a raise. By demonstrating your added value you are giving your boss and the people above him or her who have to approve a raise, which possibly may be an exception to current company policy, reason to consider and champion your cause.

Develop options.
If your back is against the wall and you have nowhere to go you don't have much leverage in a negotiation. Deciding when to ask for a raise is best done when you have options. If you have had a recent job offer, if your boss feels like you are in demand, or if your job is in high demand in the market place you are in a very good position to ask for a raise. Having the ability to leave your job for another position gives your request merit. Companies know the cost of hiring and training new employees. It is to their benefit to keep good employees as long as possible.

You know your situation and how important a raise is. The final suggestion is to identify changes in your situation that now make a raise essential. This can be a new baby on the way, an unexpected, long term medical expense, or possibly the decision to go back to school. Whatever the reason, use it as the basis for requesting the raise. Simply being good at what you do and wanting more money in these difficult times may fall on deaf ears.

Related Content
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What is Negotiating?
The Art of Persuasion
When to Accept an Offer
What to Avoid When Negotiating

How to Buy - Six Good Negotiating Tips

Everyone has endeavored to optimize the opportunity to buy cars, boats, homes, appliances almost anything directly from owners. When dealing in the resale market don't forget to negotiate.

We live in a fast paced, got-to-have-it-now world. Unfortunately this environment is good for sellers and bad for shoppers. In a high pressure environment the time and patience required in any negotiation is often considered too burdensome to do properly. So the shopper settles for making the seller happy.

There is no reason to forego go proven negotiating tactics in the interest of immediate gratification. There are few things so precious that failing to get one today diminishes the value of getting it tomorrow. To learn how to buy almost anything, develop these six good negotiating habits.

The First How to Buy Tip: Define your objective. Never discuss price until you are sure it is the item you want. Price does not make the item any more useful or beneficial to you. It may make it appear attractive but that allure will fade when you find a better widget tomorrow or the next day.

The Second How to Buy Tip: Manage your time. The purpose of negotiating is to get the item for the best possible price within a reasonable length of time. Time is a valuable commodity and you don't want to spend too much time negotiating for a $1.00 item when there is a $100.00 item around the bend that you really want.

The Third How to Buy Tip: Don't go first. Before offering a price ask the other person what his or her best price is. There are times when they will drop their price below what you are about to offer. It is a standard negotiating tactic to get the other person to make the first offer so you can adjust your offer accordingly.

The Fourth How to Buy Tip: Be prepared to negotiate. Make sure you know what the 'widget' would cost elsewhere before making an offer. Preparing for your shopping spree should include some due diligence before leaving home so you are prepared to recognize a good deal when you come across it.

The Fifth How to Buy Tip: Don't forget the terms. The terms of a deal can make the price more or less attractive. Make sure you factor in the financial impact of the terms before settling on the final price.

The Sixth How to Buy Tip: Be Observant. Be aware of the other person's response to the negotiation. There is a time to bring the negotiation to a close just before they decide not to sell. Don't let the discussion drag on as the other person may lose interest or patience. Over negotiating can kill a deal that should have been made.

These how to buy tips are routine negotiating tactics that can be applied in almost any venue. They obviously are valuable when buying a used car, negotiating for a boat, purchasing a time-share or condo, or making any significant purchase. The trade-off is time. The larger the purchase the more time you may want to spend on the negotiations.

How to Negotiate Credit Card Debt

The most important aspect of personal debt restructuring is to ask before you get in too deep and before the lender sells your debt to a collection agency. So it is more important than ever to learn how to renegotiate credit card debt before one is forced into bankruptcy court.

Renegotiating debt is best done before you are too delinquent. Debt can be restructured a number of ways. Here are some ways to help you preserve your ability to control the restructuring of your debt.

To learn how to negotiate credit card debt consider these negotiating tactics:

  1. Do not wait until the debt has been sold. By then it is too late to deal with the bank personnel who might have an interest in helping you. The third party's only motivation is to make money off your bad situation.
  2. Before you seek debt relief, develop a personal budget that is viable and a plan which you can handle. Now you are ready to lift the telephone and negotiate your credit card debt.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Advising the lender of a looming problem allows them to help you avoid it becoming a major issue and saves them the time and effort of writing it off.
  4. Be persistent when negotiating credit card debt. "No" is easy for creditors to say. You will hear it a lot. Call back and try to get to someone else. Talk to the same person repeatedly until they begin to get to know you and start wanting to help you.
  5. Be pleasant on the phone and in person. You need to develop a rapport with the other person so they want to help you. Getting mad often makes things worse. Besides, you have little to threaten with so avoid creating an atmosphere of a confrontation. You will lose.

You have a cash flow problem that is about to become the lender's problem. You have to have a viable solution to offer the lender that makes more sense to them then selling off your debt. They have to be enticed and motivated to listen to you. Your challenge is to negotiate your credit card debt in a fashion that allows you to stay afloat. Theirs is to mitigate their losses. Your plan has to be better than their alternative.

The most important aspect of credit card debt restructuring is to ask before you get in too deep. A good customer's case always sounds better than a plea from a habitual problem customer.

Negotiating: How to Negotiate a Job Offer

You are one of those lucky people who are looking for a new job and actually found one of interest. You have passed your interviews and are being offered a job. How do you negotiate the job offer?

For starters you need to consider what you need and what you want. Those are quite different things and defining each will enable you to focus on getting what you need without being taken in by what you want. A company car and other perks can turn your head but do not necessarily pay the bills. At the same time they can offset other costs and may be worth more than cash itself.

To maximize your potential when negotiating a job offer consider taking these simple preliminary steps.

Define the Job Requirements

Before consider accepting an offer for a new job there are some things to be considered.

Where will you be working? Does it require a commute or relocation? This can add personal costs that may or may not be covered by the new compensation package unless you address it when negotiating a job offer. Depending on the job there many situations where asking for a relocation allowance or commuting compensation is not out of line.

Will you need a new wardrobe or other tools of the trade? If the job has specific requirements that are unique to the position you should be able to negotiate an adjustment in the compensation package to offset these job related costs.

What will your hours be? Even though you may not be able to garner additional compensation for child care you will want to consider additional personal expenses such as extending child care costs when evaluating any offer.

What you are doing at this juncture is assessing the cost to you of taking the new job and identifying such expenses that you will want to address before you negotiate a job offer. The base salary is only the starting point in a compensation package but the hiring day is the best day to address the full range of compensation the company is able to offer.

Define the Potential Sources of Compensation

Compensation is far more than the salary. It is the full range of benefits you receive from an employer that comprise the compensation potential to you. Obviously these vary by job level so it is important to establish the parameters are for the specific job for which you are being considered. The human resource personnel are likely to be willing to share the various standard benefits available for the position for which you have applied.

Depending on the job grade, typical benefits are expense accounts, mileage compensation, company cars, phones and computers, college are advanced degree reimbursement, vacation time, maternity time, company recognized holidays, possibly child care facilities, and anything else the human resource department feels is appropriate or standard for your position.

Remember, while you are the interviewee for the position you should also consider the company your interviewee in terms of an important change for you. Before considering any job offer you should spend a little time finding out the company's retention and promotion reputation. You will spend as much time with the company as you do with your family each year, maybe more. So you should make sure the company, the co-worker group, and the job are worth making a change.

Don't forget your current company. If you are employed, review why you are leaving. If you like the company and you work environment but want or need more compensation consider seeing if your company will match or beat the best offer you can negotiate with the new company. Tenure is a benefit in many companies in terms of benefits and you may be losing ground in terms of vacation pay or job security so you should not consider simply a lateral move unless you have to do so. By having n offer from another company you are able to demonstrate your value in the job market to wake up your current boss and get him to go to bat to keep you.

Establish How Badly You Need This Job

One thing that will impact how aggressively you negotiate a job offer is how badly you need the job. Obviously your situation will control how much you can press the new employer. The more desperate you are the less leverage you have.

If you are gainfully unemployed, then you will obviously want to press enough to see if you can improve the package but not so much that you make the other person consider withdrawing the offer. Even if you agree to the terms if they feel you won't be happy with the package long term they may decide to look for someone else who will appreciate the opportunity more.

If you are employed and your job is secure then you are simply looking to upgrade your situation. That allows you to be more aggressive as losing the job just means that you start the job over; not that you lose your house!

And then there is the market place. Estimate how likely it is you can find a comparable job. If similar jobs are few and far between, then you will want to be more cautions. If these jobs are readily available then press and, if you aren't satisfied, go to the next prospect.

Take the Negotiation to the Right Person

Many companies put applicants through several different interviews and, when they decide to make an job offer, do so though the human resource department. This is great for the company but impersonal for you. Human Resources is more likely trying to fit you into company brackets for the specific job and leave some room for your financial growth before you 'max out'. This may not meet your needs and HR may not care as they will not be working with you.

If you have made a good impression with someone or everyone on the selection committee you should be sure to send them a personal letter thanking them for the opportunity to interview. If they respond you may have created an inroad to which you can turn if negotiations with HR falter. HR is just doing a routine job but the selection committee is seeking to bring talent into the company. As a result, they may be more willing to bend the rules a bit to accommodate your needs. Subject to how badly you need the job you should use this option only if you are prepared to walk away from the opportunity as you may step on a few toes that kick back.

Ten Persuasion Techniques

The objective of negotiating is to inspire another person to do something they may not want to do. Some of the tactics of negotiation include persuasion techniques. Persuading others is the art of the process. A little friendly persuasion by Guido, the godfather's henchman, is one way of being persuasive. Encouraging the parties to talk and work things out using persuasion techniques is another. It is all in the approach.

Persuasion is often used just to get reluctant participants to talk; to get reluctant adversaries to open up, consider options and discuss the situation. This dialogue is an essential step forward in any negotiation.

There are many ways to be persuasive. To improve your negotiation technique, learn to use these 10 persuasion techniques, or recognize when they are being used on you.

In most negotiations we assume that the prime motivators are avarice and greed. While almost always present, these motivators are not always the most persuasive techniques available to a negotiator. It is the ability to use more subtle tactics that marks the difference between negotiators.

Persuasion TechniquesPositive Persuasion Techiques

1. Positive Reinforcement
The desire to be liked is very strong in all of us. An effective persuasion technique is the use of classical reinforcement conditioning.

The Pavlovian cause and effect relationship model relies on the consistent response, positive or negative, to condition the other person to react in a specific way. In any negotiation there are ample small issues that need to be resolved before the main task is even addressed. Deciding when and where to meet is the start of a relationship. Reinforcing the other person's working with you on these little issues with a sincere smile, handshake or appreciative gesture you are subliminally reinforcing their performance with your approval. Most people enjoy being liked by others and will, properly reinforced, continue to try to get more of your approval.

Don't fall into the I-want-to-be-liked trap yourself. In general most people genuinely want, even need to be liked. But in a negotiation you need to have the personal self-esteem and confidence to understand what is being asked and reject pressure to do what you know is not in your best interest. By standing up for yourself you will gain the respect of those around you.

2. Respect
A negotiator can motivate another to help by outwardly deferring to the other's expertise, experience and power. Playing to another's ego can be an effective persuasion technique to invoke the other person's ego to help you make the deal. When the strategy works, the other person begins to act like a coach or mentor and in doing so reveals the terms upon which a deal can be struck. Once that is established then you are in a position to either tweak or accept the terms; or decide that a deal just can't be made. In any event you have achieved your goal of learning the other person's parameters.

3. Avarice and Greed
Avarice and greed is a positive motivator in that it clarifies the situation. If you know the other person is driven predominantly by money or wealth accumulation then you know he or she will be willing to agree if the price is right. Your challenge is to mitigate your cost. This is typically best done by introducing other, less costly motivators into the discussions.

4. Recognition
Who does not want to be recognized by their peers? Often in a public or important corporate negotiation one side will offer the other the opportunity to claim the responsibility for reaching an agreement in exchange for a major concession. This persuasion technique, either psychological or professional, can be very powerful.

5. Success
Everyone wants to succeed. Sometimes winning becomes more important than the commodity in question. A traditional persuasion technique is to feign submission while garnering the final concessions. You might expect to hear a phrase like, 'You really beat me down but I have to have it, can you just agree to "X"?'. This submissive approach telegraphs to the other person that they have won....if they will only make one "little" adjustment to their terms.

This is a great closing technique when the parties are close but not quite there. The willingness to leave a little of your ego on the table in exchange for tangible rewards can pay dividends.

Negative Persuasion Techniques

6. Avarice and Greed
Threatening to deprive someone of a deal or the proceeds from a deal can be a powerful persuasion technique or tactic. Individuals forced into a negotiation because of cash flow problems such as a mortgage they can no longer service are vulnerable.

Being fixated on the monetary aspect is a weakness that can be used by anyone with available cash or credit. In down markets smart money comes into play. This is unfortunate for some but beneficial to others. Cash, in this situation, is very persuasive.

7. Failure
No one likes to lose. In America we are taught from a young age to try to come in first, get "A"s, or be the first picked. Our mother's and father's beam when we do well. By the time we are adults failing has become ingrained as a major psychological punishment. When you enter a negotiation you must set aside your fear of losing in order to negotiate with a clear mind.

Avoid the compulsion to always win. You can't and won't win every negotiation. Losing isn't failure to a negotiator; paying or sacrificing too much is.

8. Fear
People can be motivated by many things. The basic motivator is fear. A robber with a gun pointed at you need only ask once for your wallet. The bank threatening foreclosure can also bring havoc to your life and alter your negotiating position.

The best way to thwart fear being used as a persuasion technique against you is to develop options. Threats are only compelling when you have run out of options.

9. Rejection
Just as positive reinforcement works to motivate people to do something negative reinforcement can stymie open communication and positive results. Negative feedback such as frowning, feigned anger or frustration sends its own message.

Monitor the non-verbal signals you are sending to make sure they are not getting in the way of your objective. Anger, frustration and petulance is no way to encourage another person to do something they are reluctant to do.

10. Obfuscation
Persuasion techniques include tactics to mislead us by intentionally sharing part of the truth. A broker or landlord may mention that he heard that your competitor has been looking at a site across the street when in fact they looked at the site but have passed on it. What was said was technically true but misleading by intent.

By withholding part of the truth or adding unrelated information into the conversation the other person is seeking to manage your opinion of the subject knowing that the whole truth would be counter-productive.

Persuasion, sometimes considered manipulation, is not evil. Those who misuse or abuse it are. Whether we are dealing with a spouse, child, boss, employee, peer, ally, school mate, date, teacher, banker or car salesman, we are simply trying to reach an accord. Aggressive persuasive techniques such as bullying can be persuasive but are often caustic to a relationship.

Related Content
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What is Negotiating?
The Art of Persuasion
When to Accept an Offer
What to Avoid When Negotiating

How to Negotiate a Raise

Asking a boss for a raise can be stressful. It need not be. If you are doing a good job and if your boss has just given you a good performance review then you both know that you are a valued, contributing employee. The focus on the amount of your raise should now be that of two allies trying to sort out how to merge the company's needs and your expectations.

Properly managed, negotiating a raise can be a good, healthy discussion. If you want to learn how to negotiate a raise consider these ideas of what you can do to maximize your potential.


Identify The Restrictions
You know the company is looking to minimize its labor costs. They usually have two issues. One is the human resource pay range for the position you are filling. The other is how your raise will impact those with whom you work. That is, if you get a large raise will others expect or demand commensurate increases. Finally, your immediate boss may be concerned that giving yoou too much will impair his raise or refelct on his or her job performance. These are the issues you want to address in the discussion.

Put Conflict Aside
Conflict occurs when two or more people are in competition. Discussions about a raise typically follow a good performance review. You have established your talent and capacity. The company is happy with your performance. At this point both parties have agreed on the ultimate outcome provided the salary negotiations can be resolved. Both parties now want the same thing; to keep you happy and productive!

Support the Other Person by Establishing Your Value
Instead of an antagonistic environment you want to find ways to help your boss justify the raise you want. Work with him or her to identify what pressures he or she might be facing. By understanding these issues you can better develop arguments that provide ammunition to use when your bass makes the case for your raise; and he will have to do this.

If the company loses you to another firm it will cost the company time and money. It may also cost them talent.

  • If you are doing things above and beyond your job description, make a case for additional compensation. As one stays with a company it is typical that they are asked to take on more and more responsibility. In some cases your boss may not even realize how much your role has been expanded. It is up to you to identify your contribution to the company.
  • If you have aspirations for advancement now may be the time to seek that next higher job to increase your earning potential. Your advancing can make your boss look good to his boss as a person who picks good people and develops them.
  • Offer to take on more responsibility as a bridge to a promottion and justification for a larger raise now. Identify what you can do beyond your current job that will save the company money or resources. Demonstrate that you are a team player. Reinforce how you are looking for a future with the company.
These are just a few ways to enhance your value to the company. Each company is different. So is each employee. Take some time as assess who you are, what you can do for the company. Then advance a strong, positive argument justifying your salary expectations.

If you feel you are in a really strong position or if your talents are hard to replicate you can always go to the dark side and suggest that you may need to look elsewhere if the company can justify keeping you. Always phrase this as "keeping you" rather than "affording you" or "paying you enough". You are trying to place the blame on the company's inability to remain competitive for someone with your talents and keep the focus off the mercenary aspect of the discussion.

  • If you have been with the company they really do have a significant investment in you. If you are prepared to seek work elsewhere, raising the cost of their having to replace you has merit.
  • If, on the otherhand, you are concerned about replacing your income elsewhere then don't try to bluff on this point. Your bluff might get called!

Be Creative When Discussing a Raise
Base salary is important but it is only one portion of a compensation package. Brainstorm with your boss about other benefits such as medical coverage, dental coverage, 401k matching contributions, stock option, a company car, and / or a company mobile phone which you might consider extra compensation and which the company does not have to consider "salary". Extra benefits add real value to you and also become leverage when you go to another company. At that time you can indicate the total package you are getting and require it be improved upon to get your attention.

What Do You Want?
You will spend at least 30% of your waking hours at work. Assess if your current job is fulfilling, rewarding and what you want to do. Even if the money is right it may be time to go in a different direction. It is your career and each step should be carefully planned and executed.

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.

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

Silence - a Power Tactic in Negotiations

A key aspect of negotiations is that both parties need a little power for there to be a negotiation. It is a good idea to find the source of the other person's power and test it to see if it really is as solid as they would like you to believe.

Silence is a tactic used to measure the other person's confidence in their position; a means to testing their power base. People have an innate need to keep conversations going. Silence makes most people uncomfortable.

Silence begs a response. When the other person makes a proposal or offer they expect you to respond; to counter or accept. The reaction to your silence is telling. Watch both the body language and verbal response to sense where they are in the negotiation.

If they appear concerned they may be telegraphing that they are worried that they may have been too aggressive in their proposal giving you room to counter; perhaps more aggressively than you would have.

If they are more concerned about the time or other distraction then they may be indicating that they have made their final and best offer and are ready to close the negotiations and move on to other pressing matters, like a drink at the bar or getting to Billy's baseball game.

If they sit smugly looking disinterested in you, your response or much of anything else beware. They are seemingly disconnected from the discussion and may be only going through the motions. The proper response to this type of reaction is to try to solicit what has their attention so you can decide if further discussions will be worth your time or if you need to postpone the meeting.

Disinterest is a telling power signal. It infers that the matter at hand is really not worth the time it is taking. That is an ultimate power statement.

Disinterest is often feigned in business and social settings. So it has to be tested.
The sixteen year old girl flirting with the visiting college man may walk away several times before accepting a date just to set her hooks. This is feigned disinterest. The same tactics are used in the business setting and has the same impact. Test disinterest before raising the ante.


Keeping Your Job

Negotiating is not always about getting something you want. Often it is about keeping something you have.

Keeping your job in a down-turned economy when layoffs are rampant becomes very personal.

Rather than waiting for others to decide your fate there are things you can do to shape the outcome and improve your chances of not getting a pink slip.

Don't accept the status quo. Seek ways to improve your skills and therefore your value to the company. Discuss additional training opportunities or mentoring opportunities you might take advantage of on your own time. Offer to take on these opportunities in your spare time rather than seeking compensation for offsite courses. Seek out coursework or seminars that will enhance your skills and company value and offer to take vacation and pay for them yourself as a way to informing your boss and others that you are committed to staying on top of things in your industry.

Don't hide or avoid the limelight. Many will seek not to be noticed hoping that will save them. But that is exactly the wrong thing to do. What you need now are champions or sponsors who will speak up for you when considering who should be kept. Volunteer, do extra work, find ways to save money and offer them up the chain. Cultivate favor with those you work with, even in other departments, so when asked they will a) know who you are and b) indicate how helpful or productive you are. When you are not in control of a situation you need others to want to help you.

Be Innovative. Now is the time to come up with better ways to do things. Get outside the box mentally and look around, observe, plan and promote ways to be more efficient. This is the time to be a good corporate person and not a grouse.

Plan for the Worse. The best defense is a good offense. If your company is downsizing or you otherwise feel your position is at risk do not wait. Get your resume updated. Discreetly start a job search and see what is out there. Check with your network to see if there are any opportunities. Talk with those in your life, like your spouse, to see what options you have. Together plan for tougher times and how you can economize. Talk about a total change in direction; maybe even relocating to a more affordable area or changing careers totally. What you are doing is developing contingency plans. Working together to avoid surprises and be prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

Should the Worse Happen. Do not panic. Find out the reason and be prepared to negotiate. If you have tested the waters and found little opportunity to find another job at a comparable salary you may want to try to justify the company keeping you. By offering to lower your salary temporarily or work part time you can argue that your retention may make sense by keeping a loyal employee, by saving money and by saving the future cost of hiring and training a replacement once your company's future brightens. The key is to stay calm and know your options, and being prepared to fight for the best solution for you.

Jobs, like it or not, are privileges not rights. It is up to you to do what you can to protect your future. Consider that staying the course may be your best or worse option. If the company is really in trouble, the sooner you move to Plan B the better. If not it offers security in a tumultuous time. The time you take to consider all aspects of your situation, that of the company, and your family's needs the better prepared you will be make prudent decisions about your future and meet challenges as they come your way.

How to Renegotiate a Christmas Gift Bought Before the Great Retail Sales

Are you frustrated because you bought items for yourself or others before the big, last minute retail discounts went into effect? Do you wish you had a gift card instead of a the gift from the big mall retailer?

This year you can consider renegotiating those pre-discount purchases. That's right. Just because you have the gift in hand and paid retail for it is no reason you are stuck with the pre-discount price.

Why not try to renegotiate the price?

What you need and, this year, have is leverage.

Because the stores allow you to return items with a receipt for the price paid, you can use that policy to renegotiate a price closer to the heavily discounted post-holiday sales prices. And this is a year when you want to use that leverage to your advantage. The retail chains are hurting and the last thing they want to do is take back an item. You know this and they know it.

There are "facts" you need to be armed with to accomplish this:

1. You must have the sales reciept.

2. The store must have the item in stock.

3. You must have the patience and motivation to wait in line and then press your case.

The strategy is simple. Take the item to the return desk and say you want to return it. When asked why, say that it is now significantly discounted and you intend to buy it with the refund you will be granted. Then simply offer to keep it if they will refund the difference in the price.

Be prepared to take the matter up to a supervisor but prevail in your quest. There is no reason you can't take the item back. Once you have returned it you can then go buy it again at the lower price.

Your leverage is increased because by offering to keep the item at the reduced price you are actually helping the store.

Be sure to point out that:

1. They will not have the paperwork to handle.

2. They will not have the returned item to re-inventory in an opened box and possibly have to return to their supplier.

3. They will have a happy and possibly more loyal customer.

The negotiating power is on your side this year. It is your choice to use it or lose it.

Conviction is Contagious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The power of persuasion comes from within.


Silence - A Negotiating Tactic

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

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

Take a day to demonstrate this to yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Language of a Negotiation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Rules and Negotiations

A Great White has no known predator. He is unique in that he can and does make his own rules. They are simple as they are based solely on the concept that might does make right in their world. Machiavelli would have liked the great white shark.

Every situation has rules. Whether it is playing baseball on the corner lot or submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court. Knowing the applicable rules enables us to compete more effectively.

In school, legal situations, dealing with any governmental agent and other structured settings, rules must be followed to stay in the game and make progress. As an example, failure to adhere to specifics of state contract law can invalidate contracts.

Depending on your goal and the importance of the negotiation, it may be wise to hire professionals to assist in the documentation to insure what you sign is what was agreed to in the first place. A note of caution: Use these professionals as tools to help you. Do not rely on them to solve your problem.

Rules are essential to order but they are not sacrosanct. If you find the rules to be too restrictive it is your right to challenge them.

Far too often I have heard negotiators say they didn't ask for a concession because it was simply not “done” or the "rule" could not be challenged. All to frequently these are rules established by the other person (landlord or developer as an example). Other than having something you want, these individuals hold no power over you; they have no authority to which you must succumb. Also once firm rules may change over time.

Don't assume that rules of others necessarily apply to you or are still in effect. Rules are subject to time and circumstances. They are not always in effect. Good negotiators challenge rules to avoid missing an opportunity.

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.

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.

Having Alternatives Improves Negotiating Results

When you come to a fork in the road you have two chances to make the right choice. Pick carefully.

Negotiating is very much like a trek through a jungle. You know where you are going but will encounter any number of obstacles that need to be negotiated to get back to your camp. Being proficient with your tools and having planned the journey will increase the odds of your making it through the jungle.

A negotiator does not have a compass, map or guide to assist him. But he does have similar tools and the opportunity to plan. Those who come to excel in the field invest in their trade craft and properly prepare before each encounter.

Planning for a negotiation requires proper knowledge and preparation. Facts are the basis of the map to the negotiation. Your ultimate goal is the compass heading you need to check and recheck as you proceed. Your co-negotiators and experts are your field team. Setting the plan is an essential step in the pre-negotiation process. Establishing a common goal for the team allows everyone to set their internal compasses and pursue the same objective.

Planning provides a chance to anticipate objections and prepare counter strategies. It is far better to be prepared than forced to react. Preparing and planning gives a negotiator alternative strategies and tactics to use in pursuit of his or her goal. Negotiations are conflict based. They are not intended to be easy. Being armed with alternatives improves one's chances of prevailing.

Negotiating Tactics

Everyone talks about negotiating tactics. I prefer to think of tactics as tools to resolve problems. The term "tactics" often connotes efforts to manipulate another into agreeing to something they don't want to agree to do. That may be shortsighted as agreements forged on reluctance have a habit of falling apart as soon as the oppressed side has an opportunity to go back on a prior agreement.

The best agreement is a lasting agreement.

Tactics that coerce compliance are best reserved for last ditch efforts to save a deal that has all but failed.

The tools of negotiation are those tactics and strategies that work to bring the parties together. Such tactics serve to:

-Inform
-Reinforce
-Clarify
-Restate
-Concede
-Conform
-Contribute
-Demonstrate
-Illustrate
-Educate
-Amplify
-Bracket
-Acknowledge
-Appreciate
-Direct
-Redirect

Tactics that tend to be coercive attempt to:

-Intimidate
-Control
-Confront
-Deny
-Cajole
-Coerce
-Threaten
-Embarrass
-Ridicule
-Manipulate

Consider the tenor of the negotiation and your tactical intent before employing any negotiating tactic.

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.

Bartering is a tactic, not negotiating.

Never venture into the jungle without something of value, like your guide or your mother-in-law, to barter with if you encounter a prowling, indigenous tribe of headhunters.

To barter is to effect trade by the exchange of commodities. Bartering is an important part of negotiations. The non-monetary commodities of the transaction are often more important than the actual monetary settlement.

While bartering is seemingly commodity driven, effective negotiators and mediators know to look for ways to leverage the human psyche to create commodities of intangible value in the form of apologies, respectful recognition, and pain infliction within the bartering framework. The more skilled the negotiator or mediator the more complex the physic negotiating arena can become.

As an example, often corporate negotiators approach landlords seeking contracts or leases bartering solely with their primary commodity, money. They know how much they can afford to pay for a given location and seek to pay a little less than that amount. It is fairly easy math, easy to explain to the home office, and easy to discuss with a landlord. It may not, however, be the best approach. They are apt to forget the value to the landlord represented by the security of their company's financial ability to service the lease or how much value their use may add to the center as a whole. More experienced negotiators would approach the same landlord on behalf of the same company with a quiver full of commodities with which to barter. These commodities could include the quality of the proposed use, the prospect of multiple transactions with the landlord, the ability to move swiftly through the permitting and construction process, a strong national advertising campaign that will make the shopping center more known within the trade area, the potential of increasing the rent value of the adjacent spaces, the strength of the tenant to potential lenders, and so on. This extraordinary-value oriented approach serves to inform the landlord about potential benefits above and beyond rent with this tenant. If any of those arguments are meaningful to the landlord, the tenant should be able to offer less rent than another tenant.

Unless the negotiating arena is expanded, the primary focus will remain on the base commodity. Without other incentives, there will be little reason for the party with the most power or strength to compromise. This tactic of adding commodities of value to the negotiation applies to almost every possible human interaction.
Understanding the full range of your available assets is a critical part of the strategic planning of a negotiation. In many cases, something that seems of little value to you may be perceived as very valuable to the other person. You need to uncover what is of value to the other person to be able to properly leverage its full value. You need to understand the needs and wants of the other party as well as your own goals and objectives.

No one said this was an easy process. It requires time, patience, interviewing skills and research. Then you might be ready to sit at the table. Once seated at the negotiation table, do not become so intent on winning that you offer more than you can afford to pay.

The objective is NOT to win the negotiation, but to achieve your goal; a cost effective resolution.

Removing Barriers to Effective Communications

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

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

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

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

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

Layered Barriers To Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Barriers to Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Negotiators must overcome barriers to effective communication.

IDENTIFYING BARRIERS

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.


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.

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

Power in Negotiations

Everyone possesses some form of power. It is not a unique or rare commodity. It exists within each of us. Power is an integral aspect of all negotiations. Those who have it flaunt it. Those who don't, crave it. Power is the fulcrum from which one seeks to leverage his or her position. The ability to reach within and draw upon it in time of crisis is another matter.

Knowledge is power. Similarly the lack of knowledge gives the other person power. Because you have not reviewed your material, your options, the facts, or your opponent's strengths and weaknesses you can not know just how much power the other person possesses in a given situation. Doing your homework before a negotiation expands your power base and diminishes any advantage the other person may have.

Everyone has the power to say "no". Knowing when to do so is essential. Knowing how much you can afford to spend on a purchase gives you the power of knowing when to walk away from the transaction. Saying "No" is very powerful in any negotiation. It is an unequivocal statement. Saying, "No, that is my highest and best offer. Take it or leave it!" is the ultimate power move. At this point in the negotiation you have decided that you have nothing to lose. It forces the other side to make a hard decision. Accept your terms or forego the transaction. Either way you have regained control of the situation.

Never enter a negotiation assuming you have no power. That is predisposing failure. If it is a situation where you have to meet and you are powerless, make the meeting worthwhile by cross-channeling the conversation to open other doors of opportunity. Don't waste your time or the other person's posturing when you know that you will concede. Move swiftly to the final agreed terms and then make the most of the balance of the meeting.

Power is an interesting commodity. It can be fact based or an illusion. Factual power has to do with money, options and time. The more you have of these three items, the more negotiating strength you have. Illusionary power, on the other hand, is often based on how the other person "sees" or perceives you. Your image is based in part on the assumptions the others make about you. You can impact those opinions by the way you act, your dress, your surroundings, your mannerisms, and how you address the others. Power is a state of mind; both yours and those around you.


Using Time as a Negotiation Tactic

Whether we are talking about one's personal or professional life, time is a precious commodity. Appreciate the time you are investing in resolving a dispute or negotiating an issue. Make sure your time is warranted before over-investing in a minor issue's resolution. Unlike money, wasted time is not recoverable. It is a limited commodity that should be wisely rationed.

In addition to the currency of a transaction, time is likely to be the second most important commodity in a settlement conference. To use time strategically it needs to be understood.

Examples of how time impacts a negotiation or settlement conference include not only the time taken to attend a conference or meeting but also the actual time of the meeting plus the preparation time, the travel time to and from the meeting, and the time to prepare and review the documents required to memorialize the meeting.

You can manage the time consumed by a settlement conference by:

- Hosting the meeting at your office. This eliminates travel time and time lost in traffic.
- Setting the agenda to keep the meeting dialogue focused.
- Allow the other party to draft the settlement documents. This allows you to only review the documents.
- Send them edits to be incorporated into the draft document.
- Establish a set time when your secretary is to interrupt your meeting for a "urgent" matter. If the meeting is not making good progress, you will have an excuse to cut it short. If progress is being made and your continued participation is warranted, you can always make the meeting a higher priority.
- Add negotiating team members to assist in the research and preparation for the meeting.

When considering the time investment of taking on a dispute, consider the lost opportunity time to work on other tasks or spend with your family or on a hobby. Time is a consumable. You can't simply go to the bank and get more. Make sure you have prioritized your activities and this dispute merits your attention.

Because time is important to others it can and should be used as a negotiating tactic.

- Extend the time to settle to force resolution: If the issue is a minor irritant for the other person, being openly willing to prolong the time it will take to settle the issue may motivate the other party to settle rather than waste additional time at the negotiating table.
- Compress the time allowed to settle: If the issue is a minor irritant for you, being openly willing to walk away leaving the matter unsettled may motivate the other party to settle rather than risk losing the opportunity. This is especially effective if you have other options and the other party does not.
- Recognize the time being spent on the matter: By acknowledging the investment in time being made by both parties to address the situation you increase its stature or value and make the process more meaningful. This helps at times to get people to become more serious in their roles and diligent in seeking to reach an accord.

Time is a valuable commodity to us all. It is often overlooked. In today's fast-paced world, time is a true commodity to be managed and used as part of any negotiation.