A few blogs ago I shared with you some negotiation lessons that jumped out of the trees at me, whilst at the Daintree forest on holidays.
I spoke of “obligate mutualism!” and explained that most scientific definitions refer to obligate mutualism as a type of mutualism in which the species involved are in close proximity and interdependent with one another, in a way that one cannot survive without the other.
I used the blog to make the connection between the negotiation, the other people involved and how to look for joint gains.
I want to use this blog to focus on the part of your negotiation planning when you and your team have to ask this question, “What is the consequence of not reaching an agreement?” I use it when planning for live negotiations just before the team leaves the meeting to start the negotiation.
It is a powerful question because it helps you determine when you would call a time out to reflect on your decision and when you would say no to a particular deal.
This is important because as a negotiator you are dealing with the rational and emotional behaviour of the other side as well as the substantive issues in front of you. My experience is people often react harsher when you say no, then when you can’t reach an agreement.
So from a process view, if I sense that I am going to say no, I would take a time out, leave the negotiation and then come back in one day, one week etc, and share why I was saying no. I would frame it in such a way that the other person/s could understand why I was taking this decision. The key is to do it in a respectful way without blame for their behaviour or lack of a decision.
Over the past 2 years, when this scenario occurred, in the last 4 out of 5 negotiations, this careful approach allowed the negotiations to restart and end in an agreement that was better than either side thought possible. Interestingly by having prepared the answer to the original question, “what is the consequence of not reaching an agreement,” this part is easier because you have considered possible scenarios.
I frame using the loss/gain approach and here I tend to focus on the loss, this helps the other person/s truly understand the consequences of not reaching an agreement.
Your action plan from this blog is always ask the consequence question before you start negotiating, it will help you get better outcomes and you will be able to say no and not feel ‘guilty.’
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