Be a Devil’s Advocate in Your Negotiations

The Roman Catholic Church used the Devil’s Advocate to investigate candidates for sainthood to see if there was anything negative concerning their candidacy. The idea behind the Devil’s Advocate is that if it is someone’s job to do an investigation, any detrimental information will come up as a result of this scrutiny. However, in the 1980’s Pope John Paul II did away with the Devil’s Advocate system, probably as outdated.

Mediators use the Devil’s Advocate as a device to give a reality check to one of the parties and point out the flaws in their arguments. The expression used is usually, “Let me play the Devil’s Advocate.” By saying you are going to play the Devil’s Advocate the Mediator is not his own advocate and, therefore, isolated from criticism.

It is a convention so it does not appear that the Mediator is actually making the comments on his own behalf. By taking the outsider’s role, the Mediator can point out the flaws in the other side’s case. It is a great device because the other side cannot take offense. It is not the Mediator talking; it is the Devil.

Obama’s Cabinet is a Group of Rivals. Will this allow them to be Devil’s Advocates? Allowing others to dissent and show that there are negatives to any proposed action is a good thing. It looks as thoughObama is going to allow his staff and cabinet members to question his decisions if they disagree. Maybe the Devil’s Advocate is not so outdated after all.

Rule 29: How To Negotiate Like A Pro

Mary Greenwood, Attorney Mediator, and Author of How to Negotiate like a Pro, 41 Rules for Resolving Disputes

Does Your Influence Get Through?

How much of business is about convincing another party to get things done your way? Well, if you really think about it, a large part of business is convincing and getting your message through. And one cannot disregard the importance of influence over others.

At first thought, this might sound like a vague deal. Influence over others? What exactly does that mean? Is that like forcing people to do things they do not want to do? Not at all! Being influential is not all about making people do the things they do not want to do, but conveying your messages and believes in such a way that the other party comes to your side too. At the end of the day, you want to influence others around you in a positive way so as to bring along positive impact to the business.

It goes without saying that if you are a leader at an organization, you do need a certain degree of influence over others. And this influence is something that your position might or might not get for you, but something you most definitely have to acquire for yourself.

As a leader, you will have to work with a number of other people: colleagues, partners and others who are not really your subordinates. At such a level, your position as a superior is not going to do the trick for you and that is when the power of your influence really matters. Can you get those who are not in your line of command to do things for you? Because that is where the sphere your influence really matters.

It might be easier to influence decisions and actions at a lower level but as the importance of the decision increases, it gets harder to convince others of what you want. At some instances, it might be as simple as asking someone to do something, whereas at other times you would really have to convince them to look at things as you do.

But influence is not all about getting things done your way. Collaboration is a huge part of influence and essential for a thriving work environment. Especially when high performers are part of your team, they would expect to be involved in the decision making process. When others are just as involved in the decision making process as you are, is when influence and collaboration, both, play a big role.

When collaboration and influence come together you are acknowledging the fact that you are all working as a team, and when a team works mutually, it is impossible to credit decisions and concepts to one person. This is about engaging the others in your team and getting the best ideas out in the open so that whatever is best for the organization can get done. For one thing, if you are pedantic about being in charge of all decisions that are made at your organization, then collaboration will not work for you. But do keep in mind that influence does not work all the time; it is a game of give and take.

As a leader of a team and an organization, you should think about if you can differentiate between when you need to use your influence and when collaboration is the best course of action. At the same time, as a leader you need to ensure that your actions and decisions are bringing people together and fostering a positive work environment and not vice versa.

Having influence over others is a very important quality for a leader but more important is being able to distinguish when your influence should be used and when collaboration is the best way.

Negotiation – The Importance Of Trading Concessions

A “Win-Win” negotiation can only be achieved if both parties are prepared to concede some of their ‘would like to have’s’ in favour of preserving their ‘must have’s’. The way concessions are handled is a vitally important negotiating skill and can have a huge impact on the final result. Below are ten tried and tested tactics to help you.

1. Discover and agree all the points for negotiation before it begins. Ensure that for each one of these points you have identified whether it is a fixed or a variable point from your perspective. (Variable means that there is some flexibility of movement.) If you have a separate meeting scheduled for your negotiation, it’s a good practice to send out you points for negotiation prior to your meeting. This ensures that both parties aren’t presented with any sudden surprises.

2. Increase the number of points for negotiation (if possible) because you increase the opportunities for a trade. If you only negotiate on price you are potentially setting the stage for a Win-Lose outcome. People very rarely buy on price alone, which is why it’s important to do a thorough fact find at the beginning of the sales process, to flush out the buyer’s list of requirements.

3. Always trade concessions (as opposed to giving them away). This means that for each point where you agree to a concession, you’ll want the buyer to make a concession in return. If you give a concession without requesting a return concession then you’ll be unlikely to get one afterwards. Therefore, it helps to preface your concession with the words ‘what if’. For example, “What if I offered you this (specify concession), what could you offer me in return?” As soon as you begin the process of trading concessions you are creating a frame for agreement, this underpins the belief that together you can reach an overall agreement.

4. Make concessions in small incremental amounts, gradually. If you offer up a large concession too quickly you could create the perception that ‘you loaded the deal’. It’s always best to aim to hold something in reserve for those buyers that are tougher with their negotiations, and present every concession as if it has huge value to you. When presenting concessions use features and benefits to really highlight the value that you are offering.

5. If the price changes, change the deal. This can help to maintain your credibility and justifies the reason for the price change. If you simply comply with a request to lower your prices then you imply that you were asking too much originally.

6. Use a calculator to quantify the impact of price decreases overall. For example, a couple of cents or euros on a large deal could equate to a huge amount over a twelve month period. This can be useful to show just how much you are offering in the long term. It’s a good idea to calculate the long-term value of every concession you are offering.

7. It can be disadvantageous to have your opening offer completely disregarded so encourage the buyer to go first with their offer if you can. Sometimes the buyer offers more than the sales person was prepared to accept, yet avoids having to do so because they kept quiet and let the seller go first. It also provides you with the opportunity to evaluate their opening stance in terms of the possibility of getting an overall result. If their opening offer is ridiculously low then they may not be taking the negotiation as seriously as you.

8. Make each concession really count. People have a tendency to appreciate what they have worked hard to get. If the winning of a concession is too easy then you are depriving the buyer of some emotional satisfaction. This is also an ideal time to request the opportunity to consult with another individual within your organisation. If the buyer sees that their requested concession appears to be outside of your own authority limits, then this helps to build the case that they have negotiated well.

9. Be creative when generating concessions. Work with the other party to generate a variety of options and brainstorm each option neutrally. You’ll be amazed at how many good ideas are created when this process is allowed to occur. You can help this process prior to the negotiation by seeking input and ideas from other people in your organisation. Often, getting some alternative suggestions from people who are not involved in the deal, can provide you with some refreshing new insights.

10. Leave price until last so you build a sense of agreement between both parties. Aim to discover what the buyer really needs when they request a particular price. At the end of a negotiation, the buyer has made an investment of time and has demonstrated a desire to do business with you by making concessions. Therefore, to reach a stalemate at this final stage will be viewed as a waste of their time.

Before tackling the price, summarise all the concessions that you have made and where possible attach a value to them. This amount can look even more impressive if you total this over a twelve month period. Always have a list of the buyers agreed requirements in front of you so that you can show the buyer just how many of them you have already met.

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