Business Negotiation December 03, 2014

Covering-up Differences Won’t Work

Negotiation involves conflict.   We do not negotiate unless there is some difference that must be resolved...

Negotiation involves conflict.  We do not negotiate unless there is some difference that must be resolved. Because conflict is uncomfortable, too many people prefer to avoid negotiating or to paper over differences when they arise.  The trouble is that covering up difference will not work. They will emerge soon after the performance begins and fracture whatever agreement the parties sought to reach.

Most negotiations follow a path. Serious issues are raised by one or both sides and generally settled by compromise or give and take.  As talks draw to a close a number of smaller differences come to the forefront.  Details become important.  Who should do exactly what?  Exactly when will something be done and what exactly does the word “done” mean?  How and by whom will progress be measured?  It has been said that “The devil is in the details,” and it is.

These small but critical matters usually arise later in the negotiation process.  By that time both parties are tired of talking and both are afraid to reopen issues already settled.  Both hope for the best.  So they paper over the difficult details, shake hands and go on to something else only to have the agreement fall apart later.

We pay a high price for papering over differences rather than facing them.  We invite misunderstandings and misinterpretations that later lead to rancor or renegotiation. Agreements within the organization, unlike external ones, rarely have legal structure to determine the rights of the parties on matters left unclear. Internal agreements are very brittle and crack easily when challenged.

Workplace negotiations are likely to fail when agreements between parties are left vague.  Settlements that contain words like, “My department will provide the necessary support to help you meet the schedule,” will fail unless the support to be provided is carefully specified as to quantity, quality and timeliness.  Papering over words like, “We will deliver in ten days,” leads to needless argument and fault-finding about what was meant when delivery is late.  Did the ten-day delivery promised include a partial delivery or all of it? Did the time specified include weekend days and a national holiday or just business days? Better to negotiate a bit longer and settle on, “We will deliver the complete program on February 17 or sooner.”
Upcoming seminars
Effective Negotiating
Effective Negotiating
Effective Negotiating
Effective Negotiating
Search for seminars near you
General Negotiation
May 10, 2017

Patience really is a virtue

“All you need is a little patience.” We’ve heard that for years, in church sermons, from our teachers, our parents, even from pop songs.

Read More Group 7
WHITE PAPER
May 10, 2017

Are there rules for effective negotiations?

According to Anthony Tjan, founder of Cue Ball, a venture equity bill, there are four main rules for effective negotiations.

Read More Group 7
WHITE PAPER
May 10, 2017

Negotiations involve change: price increase, scope of work modification, request for discount, union demands, reduction in volume, change supplier, design change, people changes.

Read More Group 7