You have done it before, over and over again. You may not be consciously aware but you are doing it frequently and you feel good about the experience every time you get your way. And what is more is that it feels even better when there’s another party involved who eventually becomes your partner. I’m not talking about a relationship, although it may very well turn into that, I’m talking about the fine art in business and in life, that is, Negotiation.
Yes, we have done it plenty of times and we continue to do it. Why? Because we need to do it for a various number of reasons, such as: getting interviewed for the position we’re applying for, job promotions, bargaining with a client, justifying that we deserve a high grade to our professor, talking with our spouse on who’s going to do the dishes and the laundry, explaining to your kid why he or she needs to go to school, explaining to your parents why you’re still in college after ten years. These are just examples of what negotiation could be like.
You may have also probably heard the phrase, “We are all salesmen.” Nothing could be closer to the truth; we are all salesmen in its strictest sense. We sell our ideas, our talents, our truths, heck, we even sell our lies. We want to make the other person believe in what we have to say thereby getting what we want. But what if selling does not work and we seemed to have been stuck into a stone wall, can we still do something about it? When you have reached this point, this is the point where selling stops and negotiation comes in.
To continue selling after the other party has shown some signs of disagreement and has eluded your plea is like phoning up a person only to receive a message that that person is not around when such person is there all the time. It is no use. What it does is just forcing our wants to another person without getting any response in return. What we need is a more refined way in dealing with this kind of situation that does not make the other party think that he or she has the upper hand (power), and the reason why they can be passively tyrannical, whether it is personal or business. A kind of response where negotiation can deliver, but first we must know some of the basic rudiments of negotiation.
A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation from Sison, Corillo, Parone, and Company or SCP and Co. to lecture about Strong Negotiation Techniques which is part of their Continuing Professional Development Program. The audience is a group of young, beautiful and smart professionals who are all women. I was expecting that some guys would attend because some of the lectures were tailored for them especially in negotiating with their better half, prospects or girlfriends. But as a former boy scout a long, long time ago, I stayed true to our motto to always be prepared.
So regardless of the type of audience, which I actually enjoyed, to be honest (not that I’ve been dishonest before), I gave them the rudiments in negotiation. To wit:
In negotiation, there are usually two parties involved, one making the offer and the other one making the counter-offer. The offer or counter-offer is determined by a number of vital elements which come into play in any negotiation. These are:
- Issues at hand – Mostly logical and surface level. If both parties focus on the issues only, it would be a battle of who knows more and who’s right and who’s wrong
- Relationship levels of Negotiating Parties – Considering the other party’s relationship which could be a telling factor (Also include connections, network etc.)
- Interest and Objectives – That is why there is a negotiation. Interest and objectives should be sporadically revealed. Reveal only what is necessary since the other party can use that against you if you reveal too much
- Concessions – hand-offs which are relatively of small value to move the negotiation forward and in exchange for something better
- Stonewalls, Impasses and deadlocks – In the Filipino vernacular this is what you call, “Matira ang Matibay.” You don’t want to be in this position as far as negotiation is concerned since it doesn’t get anywhere. Nothing productive comes out of this predicament unless someone will intercede for another party or one party will give concession.
- Backdoor Exit – An alternative plan that will still allow the modification of a stonewall or an exit without loss of credibility
- Parachute Option – Walking away instead of crying
- Power and Pressure – Who holds the power in negotiation. Power must be used only to put some pressure.
There are a number of sources of power and these are Knowledge, Experience, Precedence, Capacity to give pleasure or pain, Authority, Legality, Time to spare and Competitive Advantage among others.
Speaking of power in the negotiation, never boast, threaten or reveal too much of it to a weaker party. Because power can still render useless to a person who does not acknowledge such power and even power is useless to the weaker party if the latter knows how to deflect the power. There is no such thing as absolute power.
“To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
Rowen Untivero’s Effective Negotiating and Influencing Skills