In every field you are involved in negotiations on a regular basis, whether you realize it or not. When people think of negotiations generally the term “high level” comes to mind. There is a group of cigar smoking men surrounding a table in a board room and the volume is loud and occasionally emphasized with a fist pounding on the table.
That scene may have played in the ’70’s or earlier, but it really is an archaic vision into a past era, and it has almost nothing to do with this article. Everything you do comes as the result of a negotiation with someone, unless you are living alone on a desert island, and even then you are probably negotiating with Wilson.
Think about it. What did you have for dinner last night? Did you cook it? Did you choose the food? Where did you buy the food? All of these are the results of some low level negotiations. Did you speak with your spouse about the choice? If you looked in the paper for sales on food, that is a form of negotiation with the vendor.
But now the point is made, and perhaps you are looking at negotiating and thinking, gee, I never thought about it that way. So how do you negotiate face to face (or through other communication methods?) You have to start either with a need or with a solution, depending which side you are on. Either way these 10 points are things you need to have in mind to have a win-win.
1. Your negotiation has to have a two way commitment to the agreed upon ending
2. Know the real goal when you sit down to the table. Your goal is not to every step of the process necessarily, but to achieve the end result. Don’t let the steps drag down the negotiations
3. Remember the process is going to involve give and take. Don’t expect to dictate the terms, unless you are willing to walk, if they are not met. (See point 4)
4. Be prepared to walk if the negotiations aren’t going to fulfill your needs within your budget.
5. When you sit down at the table, know what your limits are on all aspects of the deal. What are your time, money, and product parameters? What is open to negotiation, and where is your wiggle room?
6. Have options in mind when you sit down. Perhaps you don’t need the widget gold plated; maybe silver will work just as well. Keep an open mind.
7. Know that to have successful negotiations it is not generally a once and done deal. Don’t bargain so hard that you won’t be able to return for another deal.
8. When you are done, you should have a written contract with solid goals and a timeline. There should also be consequences if the timeline is not kept, and possibly incentive if it is done right and done early.
9. Create a winning team. When you enter into a deal with someone, you are forming a team, at least in the short term. Make sure you can work with someone, if need be. Sometimes negotiations will make odd bedfellows, but make sure everyone is willing to pull their weight for the good of the team.
10. Remember the “Big Picture.” You are there for a specific purpose. Don’t get sidetracked and bogged down by the bug dust.
It takes commitment on the part of everyone involved to have a successful negotiation, and all negotiations are the beginning of a relationship. How that relationship starts out often dictates how it goes over time. Camaraderie goes a long way to keep things smooth along your journey, so keep your sense of humor and know that life will throw curve balls at you occasionally. Negotiations are the start of a relationship and relationships make business work.