September 30th, 2011 // 12:19 pm @ mdbrand
Everyone negotiates. Like it or not… you do too.
We talk with our friends about what restaurant we will go to when we get together. Unless everyone wants to eat the same exact thing, and they never do, we are negotiating. We negotiate with our family when we talk about who will run an errand, or when, what we will see on TV or in the movies, or where we will go for our next vacation. We negotiate most often with ourselves, weighing and deciding among different options. Through the internal or external dialogs our different preferences are worked out.
Getting things decided is really all “negotiating” is. To not negotiate is equivalent to not carefully evaluating your options, or with others having any say in the dialog related to the decisions that are made. We don’t just take what everyone gives us. We work stuff out – that’s just what people do.
Negotiating is predominantly a remarkably simple dialog. The facts are laid out and each participant gets a role in deciding what to do. For instance:
“I want to eat Italian food tonight”
“We had Italian food last week. How about seafood?”
“I’m not too fond of seafood.”
“I heard that there is this new place down the block. They have seafood and other stuff like steak.”
“I can go for that.”
“Awesome. We can do Italian food next week if you’re still up for it.”
Do you see how this worked? You have facts and preferences, offers and counteroffers, and concessions – in this case from both sides to a certain extent. This is a conversation that we all have in some context on a daily basis. Maybe your conversation today went something like this:
“When can you get me the report?”
“It’ll take a few days”
“I really do need it by Monday”
“No problem, Monday would be fine.”
What about if Monday wouldn’t have worked:
“I was planning on taking Friday off. Are you sure we couldn’t do Wednesday?”
“That might be too late. Tuesday might be ok”
“Ok, Tuesday it is.”
Most negotiations truly are this simple. Everyone wants to work together for the long term, and getting along and making reasonable decisions are preferred so that relationships are maintained. Perhaps it is about simple problem solving or delivery dates, or the services that someone (or you) will provide, or the hours your employees (or you) will work, etc.
The simple premise, that negotiating is a critical element of one’s success is often misconstrued, particularly by those who share an aversion to “haggling”. The vast majority of negotiations involve no haggling whatsoever. [Secret: most non-hagglers haggle far more than they think they do.]
We’re going to dive in to negotiating. I think it’s tremendously fun – not only because I love business and finding opportunities for success, but also because negotiating is largely the embodiment of how people think, what they like, want and need, what they fear, and what keeps them up at night. This is the study of practical human behavior, and when we look at negotiating as a craft, it can all be brilliantly interesting (as well as amazingly helpful).
So until next time… get in the game (and maybe even have some fun while you’re at it).