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:
- 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.