IntraOrganization Negotiation August 28, 2019

Collaboration and The Other Cs To Avoid Negotiation Breakdowns

Negotiations rarely fail because one party cannot offer what the other party wants. Most of the time, it’s all a matter of perception, attitude, strategy, and a willingness to work things out...

Negotiations rarely fail because one party cannot offer what the other party wants. Most of the time, it’s all a matter of perception, attitude, strategy, and a willingness to work things out. If you’re going to invest time and energy into negotiating a new contract or agreement, you should do everything in your power to avoid a breakdown in talks. You can do this with what we call the 5Cs.

Our 5Cs Formula for Avoiding Negotiation Breakdowns

1. Communication

From the initial offer to the discussions that follow, communication can make all the difference. If you want to communicate your points clearly, make sure to:

• Use simple, easy to understand language and keep your communications short and to the point.

• Make it clear what you want from the other party and what you can offer in return.

• Remain polite at all times. • Listen to the other party and show interest in what they have to say.

• Send the same message through all communication forms—from written and verbal communication to body language.

• Stay positive, be open to discussions, be ready to answer questions, and explain your point of view.

2. Collaboration

Sometimes, negotiations seem to start on the wrong foot. But that’s only a matter of perspective. Once the basic negotiating points have been laid out, you can work with the other party to find solutions that will benefit both of you. The very reason you started negotiating in the first place is because an agreement could benefit both parties. This means you already have a common goal. Now all you have to do is work together to find a Both-Win® solution. The focus here should be on working together to reach a common goal. Show that you are willing to collaborate and ask the other party to work with you. They may be more open to collaboration if you try the following approaches: • Work out a better solution for both of you.

• Ask for something in return whenever you make a concession.

• Request the other party’s help when you are not sure how to make ends meet.

• Courteously reach out to the other party’s higher authority for help.

• Ask how you can improve your offer to make it acceptable.

3. Compromise

Both-Win® situations are a prerequisite for a successful negotiation. If you want the other party to accept your terms or give you what you want, you need to meet them halfway and offer something in return or make compromises. Perhaps you will have to pay a little more than you had planned or wait a little longer than you were hoping. You may have to accept new terms or make amendments to your own terms and conditions. Just remember that the compromise will get you what you want. Also, by making concessions and giving something to the other party, you earn the right to ask for something in return. This is what negotiations are all about: adjusting offers and terms until reaching a Both-Win® solution.

4. Calm

It’s easy to lose your temper, especially when you’ve struggled to offer a mutually beneficial agreement and have made compromises. However, losing your temper may undermine your chances of reaching an agreement. You cannot afford let your emotions impair your thinking, affect your perception, or get in the way of your goals. If you give in to them and expose your weakness, the other party may take advantage and try to manipulate you. Sometimes, versed negotiators use emotions to get what they want. They feign apathy, anger, or empathy to push negotiations in the direction they desire. You cannot help feeling the way you do, but you can keep your feelings and emotions under control. The following tips may help:

• Focus on facts, not feelings. Business negotiations should be all about numbers and stats.

• When things get too intense, find a polite excuse to take a break and get your act together.

• Rephrase the other party’s comments to show that you’re listening, and to buy time to formulate a polite answer

• Try to maintain your composure and do not raise your voice. Getting angry and shouting rarely get you anything.

5. Change

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, reaching an agreement seems impossible. You simply cannot get the other party to accept your terms and you know you cannot meet theirs. Perhaps it is time for a change. Here are some things that you should consider changing:

• Perspective - Try to look at things from the other party’s perspective and get them to put themselves in your shoes. You will have an easier time understanding one another and coming up with a Both-Win® solution.

• Venue - Sometimes, a change of scenery can work miracles. If office or conference room negotiations don’t get you what you want, perhaps continuing discussions over lunch, dinner, a wine tasting, or during a golf game might.

• Terms – If the negotiation focuses on one aspect that you are not willing to compromise on, perhaps it is time to take the talks in another direction. There must be something else you can change to sweeten the deal. The idea is to tilt the balance in another direction until both parties are satisfied with the deal.

• Negotiators - Just because two people do not see eye to eye does not mean that the companies they work with shouldn’t do business together. Ask politely to continue the negotiations with someone else, request a co-worker or superior to back you up, or turn to a third party for help (mediator, negotiations training, etc.).

Final Advice on Successful Negotiations

If you follow the above formula and give it your best, your negotiations should lead to a Both-Win® agreement. It may take time and effort, so stay at it! Just because you haven’t reached the winning agreement does not mean you never will. It could, however, mean that the agreement you are struggling to reach is simply not meant for you or worth pursuing. If, despite your best efforts, you see no result and no light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps it is time to take a step back and look at the big picture. You may realize that it is time to stop negotiating. Perhaps:

• You or the other party have reached a final, unchangeable decision.

• The agreement with the other party is simply not beneficial to you or your business.

• You or the other party lack interest and/or motivation.

• One of the parties involved in the negotiations does not have the necessary authority.

• The agreement being negotiated would negatively affect you or your business’s integrity. In all other situations, the above formula should help you reach your goals, so do not forget to communicate, collaborate, compromise, stay calm, and embrace change! It will be worth it!

What is your winning formula when it comes to negotiations? Please share, so that we can all learn from one another and improve!

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