Author Topic: Master Negotiator  (Read 3131 times)

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jmarvellous

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Master Negotiator
« on: October 01, 2013, 01:05:12 PM »
I've got negotiation on my mind -- I just found out that I'm going to be part of a pretty serious negotiation competition*.

I'm wondering what your strategies are for politely, kindly and forthrightly negotiating. How do you balance stubbornness, neediness, or a short fuse with getting what you want, giving an inch when necessary, etc.

General strategies and advice are great, and specific success (or failure) stories are even better. I put this in the work category because I was thinking about negotiation in a professional context, but 'business' etiquette doesn't stop at the office doors. For example, I've felt pretty good about negotiating at an outdoor market or even pushing for a later bedtime circa age 9.

*Granted, competitive negotiating is NOT the same as real-world negotiating (for one thing, the real world doesn't hand you a summary of your wants, needs and bottom lines in a three-page brief), but the strategies are the same, more or less. And my partner and I were praised for our politeness and poise in the earlier rounds, so I'd like to keep that up if at all possible.

alice

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 01:30:29 PM »
I have never heard of competative negotiations.  Please elaborate.

LazyDaisy

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2013, 01:39:52 PM »
My advice is stick to the topic being negotiated and avoid attacking the opposing person even if they are being unreasonable or rude or have their facts all wrong. Things like, "You don't know what you're talking about..." would probably not win points in the competition. While statements like, "The industry standard for x as reported by XYZ authority is Y. I can't support T when it goes against an established and sustainable industry standard. I know you stated that Y is not possible due to budget constraints, but my side can agree to implement it in stages over time to allow for changes in market and personnel." I think it's good to not only stick to what you need or can't support but end with a positive thing that you can agree with. This makes the negotiations less antagonistic and more cooperative.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

buvezdevin

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2013, 02:35:59 PM »
Not knowing the parameters of the competition, if each "side" is given a briefing, but does not have access to the other party's briefing - first discussion points are (usually) best aimed at establishing what the other side "wants" and "why" as well as relative priorities.  It is a position of strength, and allows you to frame a mutually productive negotiation when you have an idea of the other party's actual goals, which you may then creatively use to get more buy-in early and better outcome.

For example, if the other party opens with "we want to buy X of your widgets for no more than Y" asking about the reasons they want the widgets, and what their overall financial goals are could reveal they plan to customize the widgets, and sell for profit to their customer base.  If you then establish that they have better selling channels, but you can customize the widgets more cheaply than they can, you may negotiate to sell them customized widgets with more profit to you, they have cost containment and may agree to sell more... Etc.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
Mark Twain

Lynn2000

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 03:39:11 PM »
What an interesting situation. I find that when I ask open-ended questions--"Why do you want this?" "What would be your ideal solution?" "How do you see this project going?"--I often get a lot of information that I wouldn't have thought to ask for specifically, which can help me see needs that the other person perhaps can't articulate, and tailor my responses accordingly. I wish I could remember to do this more IRL. :P

Another thing I find helpful, which is in the vein of what LazyDaisy said about being positive, is to reference what the other person said and find a way to support/agree with it. I think it kind of hits home that you're listening to them and remembering what they said, and you're working with them rather than pushing your own ideas. Like... "Well, I think this next point will address Ken's concern about X earlier... " or "If, as you suggested, we could incorporate both X and Y using this method..." I do this with my boss a lot--"I agree with your idea of doing X, and perhaps we could also do Y." She changes her mind about stuff a lot, so it helps to remind her when something actually was her own idea. ::)
~Lynn2000

jmarvellous

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2013, 04:41:11 PM »
Sorry it wasn't clear in the OP! (One of my goals is to eliminate over-explaining.)

I'm really just interested in what everyone does in the "real world," not competition advice, which wouldn't be very useful to anyone else!

I appreciate everyone's feedback so far. Any other good (etiquette-friendly!) negotiation stories or techniques?

White Lotus

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2013, 05:49:45 PM »
I find it useful to have a list of "gimmes," things that you think have high value to the other side but which your side doesn't care about, or to which it attaches minimum value.  These can be very strong tools.  It is also useful to list what you think the other side's wants, needs, issues, and probable bottom lines are going to be.  As you listen, you'll of course amend to conform to what you hear, but preparing for both sides makes you stronger.

buvezdevin

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2013, 06:11:25 PM »
Expanding a bit on my comments upthread, which I do find effective IRL negotiating, and combining with Lynn2000 thoughts a bit:

When I am in a negotiation, and there are some deal points (either "must haves" or "must avoids"), which the other side is not agreeing to - or they have deal points I don't agree to - I do take extra care to find out the reasoning of their position.  It may not change my position at all, but it is often the case that understanding the "why" for the other side may help me recognize that our considerations are from different aspects of the deal point, which can allow for a "how about doing it this way" rather than "no".  As an example - if I was trying to sell a sedan, and the other party insisted on a truck, instead of saying "I can only offer you a sedan" if I ask the reasons for which they prefer a truck to a sedan, and they say they have to move tent poles often, not in bulk but with frequency, I can point out that the back seat of the sedan pushes forward, allowing the sedan trunk to accommodate long tent poles as well as a truck bed.

One thing I think can be very helpful to maintaining a positive tone through a negotiation is to identify, early and repeating as needed, the "shared goal(s)" and whatever key points the parties do agree on.  Following on the above sedan/truck example, the shared goal would be "we would each like to close a deal for a vehicle, me selling, you buying".  If we both agree the vehicle should be red, get good gas mileage, and have a five year warranty - those are positive agreement points to reference.  The rest of the deal is the negotiation, and it helps to keep front and center the points of agreement.

I will say that, generally, final price (or consideration) should be only committed when all other key terms are agreed to, at least in real life, because key terms can change pricing (seven year warranty would add to price more than five year warranty).  It is hard to "back off" a lower price offer once it is stated, if the other key terms are not yet fully agreed to in concept between the parties. That does not mean general budget/pricing should not be discussed, just that it should not be "BAFO" (best and final offer) until the deal "scope" and terms are agreed upon.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
Mark Twain

katycoo

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2013, 11:40:19 PM »
Work out what your starting point is, and vaguely list in a heirarchy all the things you want.  Look for things which might be pairs - can you let one go but not the other, both is ideal but neither is worthless.


shhh its me

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2013, 11:57:59 PM »
  "why" is the most important thing in negotiating IMHO.  Knowing why mean I know what you need  vs what you want and what you're priorities are.  I want 100 blue widgets for $100 by the 1st  . When I know you have a delivery to make on the 2nd or you'll lose a contract and that the widgets must contrast with your clients yellow whatchamacallits. Now I know you may be flexible on color and price but not the date, I may even be ale to get rid of those purple widgets that have been lying around for years.

the other thing is knowing when to stop "talking" when you make an offer stop let them answer that offer. Silence is tool , people feel the need to fill it often times by giving more.  Silence is much better then no or a counter offer , you know you're close if a person responses with silence. Silence mean considering * this is for face to face negotiations*  Silence in email may just mean they have stopped replying or they are shopping your offer.

DollyPond

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2013, 12:35:29 PM »
Know when you are pushing things too far - but this might be a skill that you either have or don't.

Here's an example of what NOT to do:

A former co-worker was offered a job at Prestigious National University.  He was offered a generous salary, two technician positions and a generous amount of money top buy equipment for his new lab.  But there was one piece of equipment that he just HAD TO HAVE.  He kept pushing and pushing for this piece of equipment (without offering any consessions[i.e. delay one of your hires for 1 year]) that the University finally said "Never mind, we'll hire someone else."

Moral:  If you are too much of a Gimme Pig you can negotiate yourself right out of a job altogether.

jmarvellous

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 02:51:50 PM »
"Knowing when to stop talking" is definitely one of my big ones! Thanks again, everyone. I'm still waiting on feedback on my latest efforts, but I can tell you all have some good methods!

EllenS

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2013, 03:27:46 PM »
I think doing everything possible to de-escalate conflict and emotion, and approach it from a perspective of "let's see how we can work this out to mutual benefit, or at least in a way that is mutually fair."

There is going to be some kind of mutual goal, or there is no reason to negotiate. aka, "you want to sell this house and I want to buy it", or "we want to end this marriage without damaging the children" Focusing on that mutual goal is important.

Asking questions like, "what is your best possible outcome?" and "what would make this worthwhile for you?" "what is your most important goal here?" "what do you think is fair?"

When people feel like their concerns are being heard, and they are being treated with respect, they will respond in a more reasonable/flexible way.  When people feel like someone is trying to trick or cheat them, or that they are being treated badly, they become defensive and will turn everything into a fight.

You want to set a tone of working and accomplishing a mutual goal, not fighting or game-playing.

Girly

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2013, 11:23:49 PM »
I am an accountant and most of my negotiations involve budgeting.

My advise to people is - When creating your budget, include everything you could ever possibly want, and be prepared to negotiate down. It's VERY rare that I see a budget approved as is, with no cuts.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Master Negotiator
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2013, 11:46:16 PM »
Information isn't free.  This is a problem a lot of extroverts (especially women) have - we tend to want to couch everything in explanations or apologies.  "Sorry to be asking for a higher starting salary, but I really need it because XYZ personal reasons!  And with my long commute to work, I can't afford to go home for lunch, so I end up eating here, and blah blah blah."  The problem is, that kind of extra information gives the other side negotiating room they might not have had before.  In the example I just gave, the company might well have been willing to give you a higher starting salary - but by offering all your reasons upfront, the company now is able to offer you something of lesser value (slightly flexible hours to avoid rush hour, for example) which you might not want as much, but you'll be under significant pressure to accept because it's a "compromise."  Even though you would have really rather had the higher salary, which compounds over the course of your career.  If you hadn't given any reasons, the company very well might have said "Sure, we can do $X!" - or at the very least, might have offered something between what you were asking for and what they initially offered.