- They suggest realistic expectations
- They listen to both sides without bias
- They help stimulate alternative thinking or different approaches to a resolution
- The may suggest a compromise that neither party considered
- They may give both parties an “out” or a way to save face
Tag archive: respect-in-negotiation
Do You Need a Mediation?
Webster’s defines mediation as “intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement or compromise.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines mediation as "a fair and efficient process to help you resolve your ...disputes and reach an agreement. A neutral mediator assists you in reaching a voluntary, negotiated agreement." The emphasis, which the EEOC includes in their definition, is on fairness and efficiency. If you are interested in labor meditations, please read more about the EEOC and negotiation here. By understanding those definitions, it seems that every business and diplomatic negotiation could use mediation. After all, what is negotiation if not the act of reaching an agreement? However, not every negotiation requires a mediator. Many times, the parties are able to reach an agreement on their own. On the other hand, certain situations such as deadlock or when communications have been compromised by heightened emotion, benefit greatly from mediation and even require mediation to be able to conclude negotiations. A mediator helps to diffuse conflict and to reach accord. He or she acts as a communications go-between. Dr. Chester Karrass tell us that mediators bring the following to a negotiation:Read more »
Forestalling a Breakdown in Talks
Let us consider some ways to forestall breakdowns before they harden into long-term bickering or wars. The suggestions that follow will help get stalled talks back on track. They allow a negotiator to rebuild negotiating space for talk without the loss of face or bargaining power for either side.Read more »
- Change the time shape of performance. Not everything needs to be done now, next month or next year.
- Get the help of someone both sides can trust and respect to mediate the difference. That’s what the Chinese and Japanese do so effectively.
- Alter the risk factors that make it harder for one side or both to say “Yes.”
- Change the scope of work. There is always some room for give and take in the work to be done or the way it is done. Getting into the details serves to enlarge negotiating space and point the way to economies of effort.
- In most negotiations, as the end approaches, the sum of settled issues generally outstrips those that are not. Nobody at the table relishes the idea of walking out after so much has been accomplished. It pays to recapitulate all matters already settled and those still open. The balance usually favors moving on to closure.
- Determine if the gap that separates you can be bridged gradually: a little now, more later and completely next year.
- The best way, by far, to break an impasse is to collaborate with the other person to search for and discover a better arrangement for both sides. Change the mode of negotiating from the conventional competitive mode to one that is collaborative and Both-Win®; that is, coming from an essentially self-centered mode to one that fosters mutual gain.
Performance Must be Measured
It is not enough for two department heads to agree on a budget allocation or a new procedure for alleviating a problem. Another matter that often arises to impact relationships is the parties’ unwillingness or inability to define and settle how performance will be measured. When two negotiators fail to agree on this issue at the table, resolution later will be far more difficult. In that respect I recall a negotiation that took place years ago. The 300-person purchasing department of a large corporation was moving from one building to another two miles away. Bids for moving were obtained from outside sources and the company’s own moving operation. The company’s own moving department’s proposal was lower than the outside sources. Negotiations between the purchasing manager and manager of the in-company moving operation went smoothly and an agreement was reached regarding the final price, what was to be moved and the timing of the project. All moving was to take place over the weekend and be done by 5 A.M. Monday morning. On that Monday morning when the purchasing staff reported to work in the new building they found their offices a mess. Litter was everywhere: empty paint cans and brushes on the floors, wall construction materials in piles, heavy layers of dust on everything, and corrugated boxes, full and empty, strewn about. A hasty conference was called between the purchasing manager and the in-company moving manager. Purchasing soon learned that in the moving business the word “done” with respect to performance means moving what is to be moved, when and where it is directed by the customer. “Done” does not necessarily include cleanup unless clearly stipulated in the contract and defined precisely in terms of what, when and who will do the work. It took purchasing days of delay, painful effort and added cost to do what they assumed would be done for them. The cleaning disaster taught the purchasing manager a lesson he should already have known. When dealing with others in your own organization, or elsewhere, the rule is clear: always define the scope of work to be performed, who will do it and how it is to be measured. Precision in the use of words is crucial.Read more »
The Expense Reimbursement Negotiation
You are a busy sales representative at a drug company with two major responsibilities. One is to meet with physicians in your area to provide samples and explain the effectiveness of your products, and the other is to sell those products to local distributors and drug stores. You incur considerable business expenses by having lunch or dinner with customers, supplying lunch to the doctor’s office staff, etc. Sales department procedures stipulate that expenses be submitted for approval weekly and reimbursed by accounting every two weeks. Salespeople must, of course, maintain proper records and receipts for income tax purposes. For a busy salesperson keeping track of these myriad pieces of paper is a nightmare. Each salesperson handles the records and receipts in their own way but are all expected to submit them weekly accompanied by a standard company expense form. Unfortunately, almost every submission for approval shows some expense receipts have been lost, other receipts are barely readable and still others show expenses in excess of acceptable limits but do list good reasons for doing so. The result is weekly chaos, late reimbursement, constant negotiation and renegotiation between those that sell and their managers and between accounting and sales personnel. Sales morale suffers and people get angry. The head of accounting and the sales managers are told to straighten out the mess. They got down to the business of finding a way out of the weekly chaos. Together they assembled a team consisting of themselves and three others in the company: a representative from IT, one from systems and procedures and another well-experienced salesperson. Each member was assigned to study parts of the problem. Systems looked into the detailed work involved in maintaining records and receipts by the sales and accounting department. They found some unnecessary elements in the existing system. They determined that some expense limits had to be raised to reflect inflation and others eliminated by combining them into acceptable lump sum allowances. The IT representative advised that a new smart phone application would be supplied to all salespeople that would be fully integrated with the company computers to track their daily expenditures. This would enable management to highlight any divergence from acceptable limits or procedures and allow them to request prompt justification or correction. A new procedure was then created that reduced work for both the sales and accounting departments. Report quality was improved and simplified. When people put their minds together to find a better way they find it. With that they gain respect and kinship for each other even if they have been at odds before. Conflicts and disagreements still occurred from time to time but these were resolved more easily and less acrimoniously than in the past.Read more »
Internal Agreements Are Only Promises Subject to a Discount Rate
A promise is a concession with a discount rate. Some are worth little, others at par or better. Much depends on the character of those making the promise and the situation or environment surrounding the participants. Added to the complexity of evaluating promises is the nature of the issues or differences involved. Why as internal negotiators should we be interested in promises and their discount rate? Because most negotiations at work end in agreements that are promises to perform rather than written commitments. Business agreements between buyer and seller are documented by signed commitment. Later, when problems or disagreements arise, they are subject to commercial law. Internal agreements that fall apart are subject to settlement only by renegotiation or appeal to higher authority. Is there something we can do to assure that internal agreements will be honored as negotiated, or do we just shake hands and hope for the best? The answer of course is that, with careful thought and action, we can raise the probability of promised performance, not guarantee it. Internal negotiators who take notes of progress and agreements at the negotiating table, and summarize them with the other party as talks progress, raise the likelihood that what has been agreed to will be done. Good notes have power in the absence of a contract and, even when there is a contract, often pave the way for renegotiating subsequent misunderstandings. Taking copious notes and saving them for easy retrieval helps reduce disputes. Agreements that include performance milestones, progress tracking and review procedures make promises more firm. Prior good relationships between negotiators and a history of mutual dependability raise the probability of workplace agreements. It also helps if others involved in the talks participate in and witness the agreement being made. Agreements between those who negotiate in the workplace are fragile and prone to change and misinterpretation. In the end, the character and reputation of the persons promising performance and the stability of their respective organizations play a large role in determining its discount rate and present value.Read more »
Concessions That Give Satisfaction But Cost Little
It is not money, goods or services we negotiate for but satisfaction. Material things are only the visible spectrum of our dealings. Satisfaction is what we seek to gain and satisfaction can be created in some relatively simple ways. Listening has a two-edged benefit. It provides the other party with great satisfaction and benefits the listener at the same time. Being courteous and tactful are concessions that quietly move the other side closer to agreement. Being respectful to the other person’s views, whatever they are, helps them to be respectful to yours. Negotiators on opposite sides of the table tend to mirror each other for better or worse. Diplomats have known this for millennia and continue to act accordingly. We, in our rush to personalize differences and settle everything quickly, have forgotten that to be an effective negotiator we must be a good diplomat. Civility is not a sign of weakness. This caveat applies to everyone but especially to those who negotiate from a higher position in the organization. I have worked for some managers who opened negotiations on a discourteous note and continued to do so throughout the talks. Subordinates may want to act that way but for obvious reasons do not. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Civility is not a sign of weakness.” There is no point in abusing the other side. An attack on a person’s ego serves only to heighten resistance. They will harness their energies to protect not only their assets, rights and privileges, but also their self-importance. A negotiator endangers his or her objectives by attacking another’s dignity or invalidating their self-worth. Civility is not a sign of weakness but of strength.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 »
The Time-To-Think Action Guide
No matter how intelligent you are, to be effective in negotiations you have to build time to think into the bargaining process. There is simply too much for any mind to process as talks progress. You have to listen, evaluate the other’s arguments, observe their body language and gestures, get ready to present your ideas and rebut theirs. Is it any wonder that many brilliant people dislike or fear negotiating and consider themselves poor at it? Let’s start by recognizing the obvious: people think more clearly about matters related to their own field of expertise. That’s why it is so important to assure that what is said at any meeting is understood by all, not just a few. Only if all participants are aware of what is said and its implications can they contribute their knowledge and wisdom to the issue at hand. We can learn much about the benefits of time-to-think from the sports world. A coach calls for a timeout when they wish to think about the next play or series of plays. Timeout applies as much to negotiation as it does to sports. It gives us time to think. Thinking time can be created by requesting time to locate necessary records or documentation to further support a position you take or by asking for time to consult with outside associates before agreeing on a point at issue. On a more mundane but practical level, lunch and dinner breaks provide thinking time. So also do bathroom and snack intermissions. Special breaks can be negotiated by the parties directly into the agenda. If more time is needed, ask for it. Several other time-to-think approaches are helpful. One way is to let the other side present their position and documentation before you do. Listen, take notes and ask lots of questions. Then, when their presentation is complete, ask for an overnight or weekend to respectfully consider all you have heard and learned. I know from experience how hard it is to reject or postpone such a request when the other side does it courteously and everyone is tired. Yet another approach is to advise the other party that you would like to propose an idea that will be better for both of you, but need an hour, a day or more to work it out completely. People are generally interested in new ideas and willing to wait to hear them, especially when talks are bogging down. Asking questions that call for complex answers can often be rewarded with new information and lots of time to talk. I was once at a negotiation where the other side’s engineer asked ours what he thought was a simple question, “What makes your GPS system as accurate as it is?” The answer took two hours. Much was learned that we didn’t know about the strengths and weaknesses of their GPS system. Effective Negotiating®, be it with associates at work or elsewhere is a difficult job. It requires clear thinking under pressure, something generally not found in one’s ordinary work. Building in time-to-think when you need it should be part of every negotiator’s planning kit.Read more »