a Costco member,
skills. She is principal
of Notini Mediation,
in the San Francisco
when you build in breaks
between sessions and antici-
pate some back-and-forth.
Pressure can derail the process.
Switch from an
adversarial to a
for best results
by JESSICA NOTINI
ammering out deals isn’t just for
sales reps and attorneys. Teens
negotiate with their parents over
curfews. Employees advocate for
raises and promotions. Business owners
hash out deals with vendors and suppliers.
Those negotiations may seem adversarial, but the process doesn’t have to yield
a winner and a loser. Increasingly, negotiations emphasize collaboration and consensus to make sure that both parties are
enthusiastic about their piece of the pie.
I view negotiation as a conversation
between two people who have some
shared interests, some different interests
and maybe some conflicting interests. To
reach consensus, each party will have to
make some trade-offs. But when we
transform a negotiation into a collaboration, we create value for everyone.
Before your next negotiation, take a
few minutes to think through three key
aspects of a successful exchange:
The transaction itself. What are your
interests? What really matters to you?
What do you think the other party cares
about most? What do you need from this
negotiation? Where can you be flexible?
If you’re a vendor, rather than negotiating on cost, emphasize customer support, quality, durability and/or other
traits or unique features that add value to
what you’re selling.
The relationship. Think carefully
about who you’re sending to the
negotiation table and where and when
you’re meeting. Everything you do
should convey that you take the process
seriously and respect the other party’s
time and interests.
© GOLDEN SIKORKA / SHU T TERSTOCK
You’re not just negotiating a deal;
you’re negotiating a relationship. How
you get along and whether you like each
other are critical. This seems obvious, but
it’s often overlooked. Rapport is important, because we give more concessions to
people we like—and sometimes do crazy
things to spite those we dislike.
The process. Negotiation can be
uncomfortable, so many people make
the mistake of leaping right into the bargaining phase. Avoid doing that, because
a race to the bottom line thwarts the
give-and-take process critical to a successful negotiation.
Remember that if you start with
your last word, you’ve got nowhere to go.
One of my favorite authors, G. Richard
Learn to listen
Shell, says, “Concessions are the lan-
guage of collaboration.”
When you leave yourself room to
make a concession or two in the negotia-
tion process, you build trust because the
other party feels you’re accommodating
them to reach a mutual goal.
To conduct a successful
negotiation, don’t launch into
a monologue about your busi-
ness or your budget. Instead,
ask the other party open-end-
ed questions about their long-
term goals and vision.
The more information you
can gather, the better you will
understand what motivates
them, and the more targeted
and e;ective your negotiations will be.
Listening has another benefit, too: Focused, authentic
attention builds trust and
goodwill, and you’re more
likely to want to work out a
deal when you feel a genuine