Every time you negotiate, you have to make choices that affect whether you achieve a successful outcome for your business. To get the best outcomes, you need to understand the steps involved in the negotiation process.
While many negotiations are straightforward, some will be among the hardest challenges you face. Your success will depend on planning and preparation. Always approach negotiations with a clear set of strategies, messages and tactics that can guide you from planning to closing.
Planning your negotiation
No amount of preparation is too much in approaching complex or high-stakes negotiations. Plan both your approach to the subject under negotiation, and your tone and communication style.
In approaching the subject of your negotiations:
In deciding your communication style, familiarise yourself with successful negotiating strategies. Arm yourself with a calm, confident tone and a set of considered responses and strategies to the tactics you anticipate.
Engaging with the other party during the negotiation
Closing the negotiation
Take a moment to revisit your objectives for the negotiation. Once you feel you are approaching an outcome that is acceptable to you:
Over 80% of the negotiation outcome is commonly achieved in the pre-negotiation phase, and systematic preparation assists in achieving the outcome you seek. While preparation is often perceived to be less exciting, it is vital to success.
A systematic negotiation preparation process requires taking the time to consider the outcome you want, what the other party values and the alternatives available to you.
We highly recommend you consider the other party’s needs first. A comparison of the two, [for the Other Party] & [for your side], will more easily reveal the common ground between the negotiating parties and the best negotiation strategy to use.
A Systematic Framework
The ENS Systematic Framework segments your negotiation preparation into a series of logical process (how you are going to manage the negotiation) steps and content (what you are negotiating about) components.
Below we cover some of the steps from our systematic framework, discussed in detail during our Professional Negotiation + Influencing Workshop.
1. Understand the context of your negotiation and establish objectives.
Whilst this may sound obvious, have you and your team considered your aspirational outcome for this negotiation? What is your point of resistance and least acceptable offer? Have you considered an alternative solution, should you not achieve what you had set out to?
To achieve an optimal outcome, we recommend you set aside sufficient time to plan your objectives, establishes ranges and alternative solutions.
2. Determine Your Negotiation Strategy
Step 1: Prepare the Process Strategy.
Prepare systematically for HOW you will manage the negotiation process. To avoid sub-optimal outcomes resulting in post-negotiation ‘fire-fighting’, this includes being very clear about:
Step 2: Prepare the Content Strategy
3. Understand Your Negotiation Style
Our underlying beliefs and personal negotiating philosophy, are often reflected in our negotiation style (manner/behaviour). While negotiation behaviours take many forms, they are all represented as a range along a spectrum. We label this spectrum from highly competitive to highly cooperative. At one end, negotiators may be characterised as hostile, aggressive or dominating and at the opposite end is friendly, compliant, and accommodating.
Everyone has a preferred or reflex negotiation style, and there is no correct negotiating style. A skilled negotiator will know their reflex style and consciously adopt the most appropriate style to meet the specific influencing circumstances, negotiation strategy and outcome they seek to achieve.
4. Reconsider needs and motivation
The link between preparing the process and preparing the content of the negotiation is to reconsider the needs. These needs will be at 2 levels: the needs (objectives) of the organisation, which are more likely to be overt and stated, and the personal needs of the individuals which may be hidden and understated.
A skilled negotiator will ensure they’ve invested the time to fully understand the needs of the other party and understand why they want to complete this deal. Asking open-ended questions about competitors, or about why they want to work with your organisation, or what’s in it for them in combining forces, building on the other party’s motivation.
5. Identify and use tactics
Negotiations are greatly influenced by perceptions of power, and perceptions can be purposefully modified using tactics before, during and after negotiation events.
One of the secrets of skilled negotiators is to identify a tactic the other party is using. This helps remove the power of the tactic and enable them to select an appropriate counter-tactic. Power is a perception, and perceived power can provide control during negotiations.
Preparation is critical for successful negotiations. Ensure you prepare the negotiation process and content, and select your strategy. ENS have developed a Systematic Framework for successful negotiations, these steps are covered in extensive detail during our Professional Negotiation + Influencing Workshop – for more detail click here.
We negotiate all the time, without even realizing it. In fact, human beings begin negotiating when we are small children, negotiating with our parents when we want something we know we shouldn’t have, or with a friend or sibling that has a toy we covet. As we grow, of course, these negotiations become more complicated. Negotiations occur with friends, family, schoolmates, and, later in life, our coworkers and superiors. While these situations vary greatly across the scope of a lifetime, the skills needed for successful negotiation remain the same.
At its most basic, negotiation is a process undertaken by at least two separate individuals or groups who desire different outcomes regarding a specific event or situation. Though they want something different, negotiation occurs when all involved are willing to discuss the situation to come to a mutually agreeable solution. Thus, understanding how to negotiate is a critical skill to build, benefitting both your personal and business life.
However, like any new skill, learning how to negotiate well can take time. To begin the process, it is beneficial to understand the five main stages of the negotiation process.
The Five Stages of Negotiation
Several questions can arise for those learning about the negotiation process. We’ve taken the time to answer some of the most common:
As with any conflict, it is difficult to put a definitive timeline on the negotiation process. For example, when it comes to the research stage, the length of time required can vary depending on the situation. If you are just trying to convince your partner to take a vacation, for instance, you already know them and can anticipate their counterarguments. Conversely, if you are negotiating with someone whom you don’t have a strong relationship with, the research should be much more intensive.
The length of the negotiation process can depend on the qualities of the people involved as well as the scenario. If you have two parties that are willing to compromise, the process can elapse rather quickly. On the other hand, if you are dealing with strong opposition from a staunch rival, it may take a considerable time investment before you achieve results.
Trust the Negotiation Process
Negotiation is an art form. Thus, it can certainly take time to master, even though most of us have been taking part in negotiation for most of our lives. However, once you understand the fundamentals, negotiation becomes more and more natural each time.
In fact, learning about the negotiation process is beneficial for everyone. We all face conflict on some level and knowing how to handle that conflict can make a world of difference when it comes to achieving a beneficial resolution. The five stages of negotiation are meant to help new negotiators and master negotiators alike hone their craft to ensure the best chances at success. Each step is important, and although there is no established timeframe in which you must master these tools, you will not improve without time and practice.
The best way to practice these skills is through professional training. To help, Shapiro Negotiations Institute offersnegotiation training to business professionals, executives, and anyone who has a willingness to learn. Contact SNI today to learn more.