Tag archive: taking-the-opposing-side
Important Negotiations Call for a Devil’s Advocate
Negotiating in the workplace is too important to be taken lightly or entered into without preparation. Not only are the issues and how they are settled important to your career, what others think of you is also at stake. How associates view your ability to persuade and defend your positions becomes an intrinsic part of your reputation. The acknowledgement by others that “he or she is a good negotiator” is almost everywhere accepted as exceptional praise. Never enter an internal negotiation without taking at least some time to anticipate the other party’s approach and arguments. If the bargaining stakes are high, find somebody who will help by acting in the role of adversary; that is, as your Devil’s Advocate as they were called in religious tribunals of the Middle Ages. Lawyers, getting ready for big trials today, employ such advocates, as do presidential candidates preparing for public debate with opposing candidates. Using a Devil’s Advocate to win agreement is a strategy that has worked for centuries and continues to work today. Here are three “Devil’s Advocate” approaches that work. The best by far for defending your position is what I call “the double defense.” First, generate arguments in favor of your position, then allow a friend or associate to first offset your arguments and then present an opposing position. If you can handle their rebuttal to your position and cope with their arguments in support of their ideas you are well-prepared to negotiate. Not as good, but less time consuming, is the single defense where you practice offsetting the anticipated arguments of the other side as anticipated by the Advocate. Least effective, but far better than nothing, is for your helper to find additional good reasons in defense of your position without regard to the counter-arguments of the other side. The Devil’s Advocate approach will make you a more effective negotiator. To do so two problems must be overcome. You will have to find a friend who has the time and cares to help. You will also have to commit yourself to do a lot of preparation work. If the stakes are high it’s worth the extra effort.Read more »
The Pyramid of Planning Strategy Blocks-Part Three
We continue our discussion of the planning points of the strategy blocks in the Pyramid of Planning. Each point is designed to stimulate the kind of thinking and analysis that is essential to effective planning-the kind of thinking that will result in intelligent long-lasting agreements.Read more »
- Selecting the Right Team and Negotiator
- Who should negotiate?
- Who should be on the team, if any? Why?
- Who should be the official listener and note taker?
- How many people on each side? What should each person do?
- Are there any status or knowledge imbalances between negotiators which will intimidate our negotiator?
- Do our people have the time to do a good job? Do they need more time?
- Do our people get along well?
- Is the chemistry between our people and theirs good?
- What do we know about the opposing negotiator’s character, honesty, work habits, carefulness, knowledge and ability?
- Every team has to have a leader. Who should be the leader in this situation? Why?
- Is there enough time for the negotiator or the team to plan well?
- Motivation Strategy
- What do we think their organization wants?
- What do we thing their hidden, “under the iceberg” wants are?
- What is our offer worth to them now? In the long run?
- If we agree, who among those in the organization benefits most?
- If we disagree, who among them loses most?
- Who pays the final price – the buyer, the buyer’s customer, the government or some third party?
- Who are the end users? Are they locked in? To us? To whom? Why?
- What risks are they averse to taking?
- Who makes the profit on the sale? How much?
- Where is the real profit on the sale? Does it come now? In the long run?
- Why are we important to them?
- What cost-risk trade-offs are worth taking?
- Information Gathering Strategy
- Write down what we want to know.
- Where can we best get the information?
- Who can best get it?
- Who should act as our intelligence center?
- Are there any moral or legal problems in getting information?
- What don’t we want them to know?
- Where are the weak links in our intelligence? What are theirs?
- Who is responsible for security?
- What can we learn from past negotiations?
- How can we help others in future negotiations?
- How much business are we doing with them now?
- How well are they performing on their present business?
- How badly does the buyer need our offer of goods and services?
- How badly does the seller need the order? Why?
- What don’t we want to talk about at this negotiation? Why?
Acts Four and Five of the Five Act Negotiating Drama
Act Four-Hard Bargaining and Power Now comes the hard bargaining and power stage of negotiation. Each side, prodded by its own organization to make the best deal possible, becomes self-centered. Each must decide how much to give in order to get what it wants. They know that if one gets more, the other will get less. Although the pie has been made larger by finding and applying win-win ideas, it still must be shared by hard bargaining and the application of bargaining power. In the world of negotiation, power is rarely, if ever, equal. Although both sides have limits, one side is usually stronger than the other. Hard bargaining tactics are often used as the parties exercise their power to get what they feel they must have. Such tactics are hard to handle for those who face them. Some negotiators walk out to show their strength and test the other’s resolve. Others threaten. Some conduct “Reverse Auctions.” Many say “Take-it-or leave-it.” Still others “Escalate”-taking back the concessions they made earlier. Needless to say, the hard bargaining stage is difficult to cope with. This is the crisis stage of negotiation: mutual trust diminishes and tempers often flare. Act Five-The Closing Stage Hard bargaining ends and the closure stage begins when the parties reconcile themselves to the fact that the deal they have worked so hard to achieve is better than no deal at all or is preferable to starting over again with someone else. Closure is not easy for two reasons. One, because there are always loose ends that must be pinned down after the main points are agreed to. Second, because the agreement must be in writing to assure that the parties perform as they said they would. Many a settlement has fallen apart at this point of landing. When people negotiate, the words they speak are different from those that are written down. When words are written, ambiguities, omissions and different interpretations can be recognized more easily. The same is true when loose ends are settled and put on paper. As they say, the devil is in the details, and that’s the Pandora’s Box that opens as we pen the final agreement. And there is one final problem. When an agreement has been submitted for approval, everyone with any interest in the deal has a chance to second guess the negotiator and pick at or improve any flaws they perceive. Lawyers are especially adept at this for reasons both good and bad. The atmosphere once again becomes grim. The opposing negotiators find themselves in a strange new relationship; they become allies trying to save the hard-reached settlement from falling apart. In most situations, however, a few things are changed and the “improved” agreement is eventually signed. The play ends as the negotiators smile for the camera and celebrate.Read more »
Workplace Negotiations Must Be Relationship Based
Nurturing good relationships early inhibits the personalizing of differences later. The stronger the relationship between the parties, the easier it will be to avoid demonizing or demeaning the other as negotiations heat up. An experience I had with a close associate shows how important strong bonds can be in softening difficult disagreement. Frank and I have worked side by side for a decade. We write and develop training programs for business executives. We not only get along well at work, but also spend time with each other’s family. A year ago, there was a difficult difference of opinion between us. We were assigned to work on a major customized training project with good marketing potential. Three disagreements soon surfaced: the scope of the training program, how long it would take to complete and the estimated total cost including development and production. He believed that writing an extended analysis and detailed script related to the subject matter was essential. I thought a rough script and modest workbook would be sufficient. We recognized that these critical decisions had to be made early on with so large and costly a project and so tight a timeline. Negotiations on course of action began almost immediately and continued sporadically over a four-week period. I was surprised at how contentious and uncomfortable it was to disagree to sharply with someone I had so enjoyed working with in the past. My guess is that he felt much the same. What helped most during these difficult sessions was that neither of us uttered a word of disparagement or criticism at the other. Past errors on other projects over the years, some by him and others by me, were not brought up. The fact that we had worked together collaboratively for so long facilitated an amicable and sound agreement on course of action. It helped us explore conflicting ideas and handle opposing viewpoints in a good-natured way. We gave each other the benefit of the doubt. Neither had to be perfect in proving our claims. Words misspoken were overlooked. Contingencies were freely discussed and jointly evaluated as to their probability of taking place. Rough notes of these discussions were taken. An agreement was reached and sketched out for both to review. The important thing was the spirit of the deal, not the exact words. We both recognized that unknown things would be learned later and renegotiations necessary. Later, when things went wrong, as they usually do from time to time on so large a project, we renegotiated based on reality and our notes from earlier talks. Today, I can say the project worked out well. All things considered, the outcome was pretty good for such a relatively ill-defined but important company undertaking. Above all, on a personal level, we remember the experience as creative and interesting. I do not believe it could have been done if our relationship were not so sound. I share this example with you as a way of demonstrating how personal relationships can assist difficult negotiations. Lay a foundation for a solid personal relationship, and keep that relationship as a main priority within negotiations. You’ll find that this makes the process of complex and difficult negotiations proceed more effectively.Read more »