Tag archive: behavior
Testing Your Assumptions
What are your assumptions and can you trust them? Assumptions are educated guesses or guesstimates about what the other person is doing, thinking and/or planning. In business negotiations, we work to assess the other person and part of that assessment is to make assumptions. We assume what their bottom price might be or what concessions he or she might be willing to make Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, once said: “We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.” It is human nature to assume things based on our experiences. Perhaps someone who looks a lot like the person you are negotiating with once lied to you and now you assume this person across the table looks like a liar. The point is that assumptions can be faulty and you should not trust them entirely. However, we make assumptions each day about a whole slew of things: which line at the bank will move faster, which item at the store is better than another, etc. We often base our decisions on those assumptions regardless if they are correct. In decision-making theory, this is called bounded rationality (when people make decisions without all the information necessary). Dr. Chester Karrass tells us that the “ideal negotiator should have ... the open-mindedness to test his or her own assumption and the other person’s intentions.” If, as a negotiator, you do not test your assumptions, you may become a victim of bounded rationality, which in turn could lead to costly mistakes as you negotiate. Don Miguel Ruiz, in his bestselling book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom says: “The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions.” In negotiations, always question your assumptions.Read more »
Building a Dossier to Negotiate Better Next Time
When learning to negotiate with another party, it is important to discover their personal negotiating characteristics. At the same time the knowledgeable negotiator on the other side of the table is learning how to deal with us. Even though we try to do business only with cooperative business partners, the old military admonition, "Know thy enemy," certainly applies. Here are a few characteristics that will be useful to understand your other party's approach to negotiation:Read more »
- What range to negotiate do they leave themselves? In other words, historically, is there a consistent pattern from where they open to where they close?
- Concession valuation: It was interesting to learn that not everyone values concessions the same way. Some count consessions, while others look at the total value of the concession.
- People who count concessions are bargainers who are very comfortable with the tit-for-tat approach. Dr. Karrass reminds us that if we must give a concession in return, make sure it is less costly than the one gained.
- How does the other party respond to deadlines?
- Can we believe their deadline?
- How good is their planning?
- How is their team synergy?
- Do they use ploys like Good Guy-Bad Guy?
- Does the boss come in at the eleventh hour as the bad-guy?
- How much emotional content do they use in the negotiation process?
- Do they have non-verbals that signal a willingness to close?
- Is there someone on their team who talks too much?
- How well do they honor agreements once they have been made?
Caution-Your Concessions Will Get Larger Than Necessary As Deadline Nears
A curious thing happens again and again in practice negotiations we conduct at seminars. Attendees are able to control their concession behavior through most of the bargaining. They make relatively modest concessions as give and take progresses. Then, when I announce that deadline is approaching, one party or the other cracks by making large concessions not reciprocated by the other. The party making smaller concessions as deadline approaches usually does better. In my formal doctoral experiment at the University of Southern California with 120 professional negotiators, I found that both sides controlled their concession behavior for most of the session. Then things changed. As deadline approached and I began to announce, “three minutes to go,” “two to go,” “one to go,” – a hush fell over the room. The tension mounted. Many participants settled only minutes or seconds before the final bell, although they’d had a full hour to do so. It turned out that both skilled and unskilled negotiators made concessions as time ran out. Both caved in somewhat as they sought to reach settlement, but it was the unskilled who gave away the most. A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, told me he wasn’t surprised at these results. He has found that people make bad decisions under pressure; they behave in emotional rather than in rational ways. His belief for those who come to him as patients is that they are better off postponing a decision when under duress. The next time you are in a negotiation, recognize that your tendency will be to give too much as deadline comes close. Discipline yourself to make smaller concessions and spread them out a bit longer. Learn to ask two simple questions as time runs out. First, “Why should I give so much in one lump sum right now?” And second, “Why not make these final concessions on the installment plan- a little now, a little later?” These reminders will help you avoid the deadline cave-in crisis. Remember also that most deadlines are themselves subject to negotiation. There is usually time enough to make another concession after you have renegotiated the deadline.Read more »
The Considered Response
Negotiation involves work. People rarely bargain for the fun of it or because they have nothing better to do. They negotiate to gain satisfaction. What we will now consider are ways to increase the value of our responses to whatever the other party offers or concedes. Whether we say “Yes” or “No” to their offer it is important we do it right; that is, we must enhance their satisfaction and maintain a good relationship. Concessions are normally made by both sides to bring parties together. The person making the concession hopes to narrow or bridge the gap that separates them. How one handles the other side’s offer can either set the stage for further improvement or serve to harden the disagreement. A time-tested approach to adding value and credibility to your responses and counteroffers will be suggested. I call it “The Considered Response.” One of the best negotiators I ever encountered employed the “considered response” whenever he negotiated. It worked this way. Whenever the other side made a demand or concession his first reaction was to listen carefully and take notes. Then, when they were through, he would say nothing but make calculations on a sheet of paper. After what appeared to everyone to be a longer period of time than it was he would say, “I can’t afford to accept your offer. It’s simply not enough.” His way of responding indicated to the other that he had seriously weighed their arguments and position, even though he had not agreed. Frankly, I can’t be sure that he really figured anything out on that sheet of paper. For all I know he might have been doodling. But I do know that his “considered response” gave his answer credibility and respect. It became, when negative, a stronger “No.” And when he said “yes” as he often did, the other person perceived it as a more satisfying “Yes.” The “considered response” is a powerful tool. By disciplining yourself not to shoot snap answers “from the hip,” your strength as a negotiator will increase. The rule is this: The next time the other side makes a demand or offer, be it acceptable or not, don’t respond to it with a “Yes” or “No” right away. Keep quiet and think about it for a while. Better yet, write down on a paper a few “pros and cons” and some calculations. Then answer “Yes” or “No” or whatever is appropriate. Your considered response will give greater weight to your answer and greater satisfaction to the other person as well. Few negotiating behaviors provide much time-to-think, negotiating space, response credibility and appreciation for the other’s offer or concession as a considered response. Make it part of your response pattern.Read more »
Creating a Negotiating Climate Conducive to Compromise and Collaboration
Differences are rarely easy to settle even when both sides have the best intentions. They are, however, easier to settle if an enabling climate of negotiation exists. Three factors play a major role in creating such a climate: where and when the talks occur, how emotional factors are handled and the degree to which those at the table are heard and listened to. If these factors are implemented, the meeting will go better. If not, the differences between the parties grow rather than diminish. A quiet, appropriate place and time to talk is essential. One would think that such a suggestion is only common sense. But I have seen some career-tipping internal negotiations conducted in the midst of clattering machinery, on busy stairways, and in crowded offices surrounded by curious listeners. Important meetings in today’s busy world are subject to frequent interruptions. That setting is no place to negotiate or decide anything. Sufficient time must be set aside to discuss major issues. Time tends to follow the 90-10 rule. Ninety percent of the time will be spent on minor points and ten percent on important matters. Time must be managed at any negotiation. Where critical matters are at stake an agenda should be negotiated and agreed to in advance. It takes good management skill to set up and run an effective session. A good negotiating climate must also deal with controlling emotional outbursts. Emotional outbursts are not uncommon in the workplace but occur more often in commercial buy-sell transactions. There, people feel less constrained to say what they please than in the office where they have to work with others on a daily basis. Nevertheless, unwelcome outbursts do occur at meetings and workplace negotiations that serve to disrupt ongoing dealings by making it more difficult to resolve problems peacefully. Managers must find ways to reduce these bursts of anger. Team leaders as well as all team members have a crucial role in diminishing emotional impediments. They must jointly insist that any outburst stop immediately regardless of whose dies or view is favored. The time to silence such outbursts is the moment harsh words arise. When members of the group collectively accept responsibility for keeping control of outbursts they will cease before they damage everyone there. The same can be said for insisting that everyone who has something to say is given the opportunity to do so. Each person at the meeting has a part is assuring that the right of others to be listened to not be impinged upon by snide remarks or negative body language. All at the session have a role in cutting highly emotional behavior short. If organizers fail to actively structure the time and place of talks, the issues to be covered, steps to diffuse dysfunctional emotional outbursts and techniques to foster open communication, then the climate of negotiation inevitably has a reduced chance of achieving meaningful results.Read more »
Your Assumptions are Probably Wrong
Making assumptions about the other party and their negotiating position is a natural part of the bargaining process. We make assumptions before negotiations take place and revise them as new information is discovered along the way. Unfortunately, the very assumptions made to guide our actions at the table lead us astray because they are all too often incorrect. The trouble with assumptions is that they are as likely to be wrong as right. What is in the mind and domain of the other person is hard to know. For us to forecast future trends, costs and problems is extremely difficult. Knowing what the other will do if confronted with deadlock is at best an educated guess. There is much we cannot know when assumptions are made about those we oppose and their future actions or behaviors under pressure. They themselves may not know. Yet, whatever the issues at stake, assumptions must be made. We have to ask ourselves questions like, “Am I asking for enough (or too much) and why?” and, “What will the other side do in response to what I say or do?” and, “What can they live with, what’s their bottom line?” Time is a factor in negotiation. Assumptions must be made about time pressures facing the other party and how these pressures will affect their choices and decisions in dealing with us. Negotiating effectively demands not only that assumptions be made, but also that they be tested in the light of what is learned at the table or elsewhere. How can we best do so? We do so by creating ‘negotiating space.’ We leave room for talk and bargaining. We leave time for explanations to be provided by both parties for everything they demand and offer. We give in slowly and in small increments. We ask for something in return for offering concessions and learn from the other side’s response. We explore by exchanging information to get a better picture of what they want and what they really need. We talk directly to them, both on and off the record, to discover what we need to know in testing our assumptions. Our assumptions are like anchors. If they are wrong, and we believe them, they will hold us back from reality. If we test them carefully they can guide us to fair and reasonable agreements.Read more »
The Power of Time and Legitimacy
Time is a key factor in bargaining strength. If one party has time to reach an agreement and the other doesn’t, the one who does in in a stronger position. The problem with evaluating time as a factor is that we tend to underestimate our strength because we are more aware of the time pressures on ourselves than on the other person. Below are five ideas to build time power.Read more »
- Leave time to negotiate. When forced to decide quickly you won’t do well.
- Be on time or early for the meeting. Getting there with time to spare will help talks get started in a more relaxed manner.
- Be prepared. Don’t just hope for the best. Too many people go into negotiations with little or no preparation and pay a high price for that luxury. Leave enough time to plan.
- Pick the right time and place to talk if you possibly can. If the time or place is wrong, negotiate a better venue.
- Give yourself time to think. Caucus often. Take breaks.
The Relationship Mode
Two or more team members enter into a negotiation. They are trying to reach a consensus on how to resolve a problem facing them. Their viewpoints differ. Each specializes in something different. Each is motivated in part by personal interests. Both would like to resolve the matter dividing them and complete the project successfully. Why should we care so much about their relationship to one another? In the book, A Behavioral Theory of Labor Relations, it says: “Two parties negotiate. The negotiating process shapes the division of the product of their joint efforts. The negotiation process also facilitates the resolution of joint problems and the integration of their interests. A third result of the negotiation process is a maintenance or restructuring of the relationship of the participants toward each other.” Whatever the issue, the parties come to the negotiation with attitudes toward one another. The bargaining process is affected by their relationship, be it good or bad. Whether they like, trust and respect each other mediates their every offer and counteroffer, their responses and positions, and of course their strategies and approaches. How they treat each other as the negotiating session proceeds then affects their initial relationship for better or worse. Negotiators wary of each other as talks start may change is the other person is candid and open during the process. Respect can grow or diminish as each party exchanges viewpoints. A negotiation within a negotiation is taking place as they talk. The parties, while discussing and exchanging ideas on the issues, are re-establishing their relationship. At the end of the process they may think well of the other or wish never to work with them again. Three basic rules govern the relationship mode and deserve a place in a negotiator’s planning and preparation kit.Read more »
- The relationship that exists between the parties affects how they will act at the table and the behaviors, strategies and tactics they will employ.
- What one or the other does or says during the talks has an effect on the attitude and behavior of the other as talks progress.
- The relationship between parties not only affects the outcome of their bargaining but also, in a reciprocal way, the outcome and how it was reached affect their willingness to abide by the agreement and their future negotiations.