I’d like to clear something up right off the bat. Negotiating is not something that you and I do every once in awhile. It’s not limited to something that we prepare for and then come to a room, sit down, and start. Rather, it’s a part of every day of our lives. We negotiate with everyone that we know all the time. In order to get good at doing this, we need to understand what negotiating really is…
All too often we can get hung up on the belief that a negotiation is all about two people trying to agree on a price. Negotiation is a lot more than this. In the words of George Ross, Donald Trump’s head negotiator:
Negotiation is the sum of all of the ways in which we convey information about what we want, what we desire, and what we expect from other people.
Note the negotiation is also how those people communicate the same information back to us. What a lot of us fail to understand is that negotiation is about more than just the language that we use.
All too often if you ask a beginning negotiator what tools they have to use, they’ll tell you that it’s their ability to talk, to listen, and their ability to bargain in order to reach a deal. They would be wrong.
A great deal of what goes on in a negotiation is communicated nonverbally. This can take many different forms: showing up late to a negotiating session, not taking your phone call, not taking a phone call that comes in during a negotiation, cutting a meeting short, or even allowing another meeting that conflicts with your planned negotiation session to be scheduled. Keep in mind that anything that the other side of the table (or you) allows to impact the negotiations that you are involved in should be considered to be part of the negotiations.
What’s The Real Goal Of Any Negotiation?
Which of course brings us to the really big question, why do we negotiate? What should our goal be? It can be very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the reason that we negotiate is simply to get the best deal possible. You need to keep in mind that just because you are able to get a great deal, does not necessarily mean that the other side of the table is going to be left feeling satisfied with the results of the negotiation.
Instead, what you should be attempting to do in every negotiation that you participate in is to find a way that will allow the other side of the table to become satisfied by the deal that will meet your needs. Your goal should be to create a relationship with the other side that allows a deal to be created that meets both of your needs.
To make this happen, you need to take the time to fully understand how the other side of the table thinks and how you can motivate them to look “outside of the box” in order to find solutions that will work for both of you. Keep in mind that money is only part of what anyone is looking for in a negotiation: personal satisfaction, ego, recognition, or even prestige can all play a role.
What All Of This Means For You
If this negotiation thing was easy, then anyone could do it, right? It turns out that if any of us want to be successful, then we need to make sure that we understand not only what a negotiation really is, but also what the goal of a negotiation should be.
A negotiation is much more than trying to get a great deal at a great price. Instead, we need to be thinking about the other side of the table. While you are negotiating, keep in mind that it’s not just your words that you have to use: everything else that occurs during a negotiation should be considered to be a part of the negotiation. The deal that we need to be striving for is one that meets not only our needs, but also the needs of the other side of the table.
The good news is that it is possible to become a great negotiator. You need to take the time to study just exactly what a negotiation is. One you’ve got that understood, then it’s time to learn how to craft deals that will both meet your needs as well as the needs of the other side of the table. This is the part that we all spend a career trying to get perfect!