The 8 P's of a Successful Negotiation Potluck
Updated: May 12, 2020
Successful negotiations are much like those old school, covered-dish lunches – you have to make a meal out of what everyone brings to the table. I am bringing the p’s to this potluck. Have some. They will make your negotiations more successful.
Successful negotiators plan ahead and prepare.They may look like they are negotiating off the cuff, but they aren’t.Just because they may not be looking at notes, doesn’t mean that they haven’t been thinking and preparing for some time.Know your goals.Know what is acceptable and what isn’t in a final deal.Be repared before the opportunity to negotiate arises.It will.And, it may be when you least expect it.Be ready.
Negotiations necessarily involve people.You will be negotiating with someone.But they will likely be answering to others, who are also accountable to others.While the person you are dealing with may have the authority to do the deal, someone will nevertheless be judging them by the outcome.Try to identify everyone who may have some say in the deal both on your side and theirs.Understand everyone’s needs and expectations.And do so before the negotiations start.You will have a better opportunity to temper unreasonable expectations if you can address them early.
Negotiations don’t have to be combat. In fact, the more successful negotiations occur when both parties find a way to win. Win-win is always better than lose-lose. Just because the other side loses doesn’t mean that you win. And, just because they win doesn’t mean you lose. Don’t be antagonistic (or that other “a” word), even if the other side is. A negotiation is not the time or place to wage war. Remember, wars aren’t negotiated, peace is.
Patience/Persistence – It’s a Process
Negotiations are a process, not the result. Don’t try to shortcut the necessity of the process. Let it work. Be patient. Don’t give up. You cannot force someone to do something, even if it makes sense and it is in their best interest. Remember the old adage “you can lead a horse to water…”? (It’s an old adage because it’s true!) Sometimes it just takes some time. If you find yourself growing impatient of losing your cool (see #3), take a break. Physically remove yourself from wherever you are negotiating, and try to regain some perspective.
Speaking of perspective – you must consider and reconsider your perspective throughout your preparation and the negotiations themselves.You cannot get so wrapped up in the process that you lose sight of your goals.Keep your goals in perspective.And, think about the deal from the other side’s perspective.You cannot expect them to do something that makes no sense for them.If they find themselves in an untenable position, you may need to do as the old Chinese proverb suggests – “build a golden bridge over which they can retreat.”
You must be flexible (or “phlexible” in keeping with the theme).Goals can change and must when the assumptions that were made at the beginning prove untrue or unsupported.It is okay to alter goals based upon developments. Don't get so wed to your original goals that you miss a good deal.
Put it on Paper
Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be on actual paper, but once the deal is struck, record it somehow.This will avoid embarrassment at a minimum and reneging at worst.
Everyone has some power in a deal. One side may have vastly overwhelming bargaining power, but everyone in any situation has some power.At a minimum, you have the power to say no. Recognize that deal momentum is real.It can force you into a deal that isn’t in your best interest.
I hope you find these p’s nourishing. Regardless of your appetite (because who really likes peas?), try one.