Negotiation Anyone? Part 2: The Negotiation Process in a Nutshell
In our last blog on negotiation, we covered the basics of negotiation: positions vs interests, 3 key elements in any negotiation, and negotiation tips. In this blog we will review a simple 5-step process:
- Prepare for the Negotiation
- Open the Negotiation
- Exchange Information
- Bargain & Generate Options
- Finalize Agreement & Conclude the Negotiation
Prepare for the Negotiation Process
Eighty percent of the negotiation process is spent collecting information and preparing for it, not when you sit down to negotiate. Consider these key items that you need to prepare for a successful negotiation.
- First, determine if negotiation is your best path. If you do not think your negotiation will be successful, if you feel it will damage your relationship with the other person, or you don’t have time to prep for negotiation, then you may want to pass on negotiation and pursue other options such as compromise (each party giving up something) or accommodating the other person’s wishes. First, determine if negotiation is your best path. If you do not think your negotiation will be successful, if you feel it will damage your relationship with the other person, or you don’t have time to prep for negotiation, then you may want to pass on negotiation and pursue other options such as compromise (each party giving up something) or accommodating the other person’s wishes.
- Determine your negotiation goal. What is the ultimate goal you want to accomplish through negotiation? Take enough time so that you are crystal clear about what this is. It is the anchor for your efforts.
- Collect relevant information. This is critical but it is often overlooked. Capture all the data needed. If you don’t have good data with which to negotiate, you are likely to fail.
- Identify and capture your real interests (why you want something) that underly your position (what you want).
- Create an effective environment in which to meet. The location should be neutral to both parties.
- Prepare your opening statements. These opening words establish the tone and mood of your interactions. Carefully consider what you want to say as you set the negotiation table. Make these words work to support the process.
- Identify your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). If your negotiation is unsuccessful – then what. What are your options if you have to walk away from the negotiation table?
- Prepare your mindset. Know your hot buttons – those things that could get pushed and cause you to react in uncontrollable ways.
- See the other party as a partner, and not the enemy.
Open the Negotiation
Your opening statement sets the tone for the rest of the bargaining process. It creates the proper setting for the upcoming negotiation that leads to the highest possible outcome. It also provides an opportunity to get to know the other party. The key to a great opening is that it must be sincere. Remember that once you share your opening statement, it’s critical to then let the other party speak and just listen! Sometimes the most successful negotiation is done through listening and a calming voice than through demands.
Once each party has provided an opening statement, they need to gain agreement on the problem or issue to be solved. Each party shares what they want as an outcome and why they feel the way they do. All parties exchange their initial positions and underlying interests uninterrupted. If one side disagrees with something the other side said, discuss that disagreement in calm terms to reach a point of understanding. Focus on each party’s interests, not positions. Realize each side has multiple interests. Identify shared interests and dovetail different interests, if possible. Gently challenge any assumptions with facts and data. The key here is building rapport and trust!
Bargain & Generate Options
After the initial offers, each negotiating party may propose different counter-offers for the problem while making and managing their concessions. During this time, keep your emotions in check. You want to hold off on a final commitment as long as possible to build a strong relationship in order to get a win-win outcome and positive course of action.
As you generate options, all parties should brainstorm potential options for mutual gain. Each interest may have several options that could satisfy it. Ensure each option meets one or more underlying interests. Generate a lot of options rather than one “single” best answer. Increase your options by examining the problem from multiple frames of reference, inventing options of differing strengths, and breaking down the problem into smaller components, if needed. Most of all, separate the creation of the options from the selection of the best option(s).
Questions to ask yourself: Do we have a shared interest in preserving our relationship? What future opportunities lie ahead for cooperation and mutual benefit? What price will we pay if the negotiation process breaks down?
Finalize Agreement & Conclude the Negotiation Process
Once an option has been selected, confirm that most of the interests have been met and that an agreement has been reached. Clearly summarize the agreement and next steps. Get the final agreement in writing and signed to close the negotiation. Develop an action plan that all parties can accept. Show appreciation to everyone that has been involved in the negotiation and thank them for their work. After the negotiation has concluded, make sure to implement the action plan and work on maintaining the relationship past the negotiation.
I hope you have found some helpful tips to use on your next Negotiation opportunity. For more information on Negotiation, go to https://www.watermarklearning.com/course/negotiation-skills for upcoming classes on Negotiation.
Dr. Susan Heidorn, PMP, CBAP, HSDP, CSM, BRMP is the Director of Business Solutions for Watermark Learning in Minneapolis. Susan is an experienced consultant, facilitator, speaker, and trainer, with over 25 years of business experience. Susan directs programs in business analysis, business relationship management, and leadership, including developing and delivering courses and providing consulting. She has been a speaker at a number of IIBA® and PMI® conferences as well as local and regional organizations, boards, and private clients. She is a lifelong learner whose passion it is to guide people into achieving excellence in their personal and professional lives and works on creating positive impacts to the organization.