Huffpost Books
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Don Hutson Headshot
George H. Lucas Headshot

The Massive Price of 'Negotiaphobia'

Posted: Updated:

Our research and experience have convinced us that "negotiaphobes" in America have left enough money on the table to pay off our National Debt! Why is it that today so many people are reluctant to engage in negotiations? Working with business professionals on six continents has shown that this reluctance to engage in negotiations in both our professional and personal lives is due to a desire to avoid confrontation, a lack of skill in the negotiation process, and a willingness to be a victim and simply live with an (often dysfunctional) status quo.

Negotiaphobia is a disease that can be treated. This treatment is simple and it involves learning the various negotiation strategies and the skills to deploy them. Our book, "The One Minute Negotiator," shares an E-A-S-Y three-step process which will get you on the road to fighting back your fears as you become mentally ready to engage and succeed in negotiating for your desired outcomes. We examine this simple yet innovative process below.

The E in E-A-S-Y stands for engage ... asking yourself "Is this an encounter where a negotiation is possible?" Many people miss these opportunities, as the people they deal with mask them by saying things like, "Of course there is a $20 dollar set up fee." We all see the big negotiations like tax and health care reform, but we miss the ones such as a drop fee on a rental car. These "small" ones are the exchanges we can do something about and they do impact our discretionary income, and thus our quality of life.

Once there appears to be the opportunity to negotiate, the second aspect of this initial step is to quickly review the four viable negotiation strategies presented in a clear 2X2 matrix form in the book. These strategies are avoidance (reactive and low cooperation), accommodation (reactive and high cooperation), competition (proactive and low cooperation) and collaboration - sometimes called win-win (proactive and high cooperation). Each of these four strategies has its place in the various negotiations we face on a daily basis.

The "A" in E-A-S-Y prompts negotiators to assess their natural tendencies to use each of the four strategies, as well as the probable tendencies of the party they are negotiating with to follow one of the paths. To assist readers in assessing their own tendencies, The One Minute Negotiator includes a 20-Question self-assessment scale in its fifth chapter. This easy and fun tool can also be downloaded for no charge at www.theoneminutenegotiator.com. We propose that the best read on what strategy someone will use in negotiating with you is how they have negotiated with you in the past. This is the other dimension of negotiaphobia; lack of adaptability. Most people are one-trick ponies as they use the same approach every time. For people we have not negotiated with in the past one of the best reads on behavior is their interaction style. Drivers tend to come out in a very competitive stance, but do not overlook the possibility of winning them over to a collaborative approach. Expressives embrace the idea of win-win collaboration, but they rarely have the attention span to do so.

"Strategize" is the third-step in the E-A-S-Y treatment process. Based on the significance of the situation, one's own tendencies, and the expected strategy to be deployed by the other side or sides, a person now carefully selects their opening and fall-back strategies. The fall-back strategy is a lot like having an umbrella with you. If you have an umbrella in your brief case or your golf bag it rarely ever rains, but leave it in the trunk of your car and prepare to get drenched. On the issue of significance, you should not just look at this one encounter, but look for long-term potential. Some deals, like buying a car, are usually one-offs that push you toward competition. There are other instances where a small opportunity today, if handled collaboratively, could lead to a much larger and recurring deal into the future.

Engage, Assess, and Strategize combine to form the "Y" in our acronym... "Your one minute drill." This is where on a regular basis you automatically cycle through the first three steps as you face any negotiation. This one-minute reflection should become an automatic and very powerful tool to make you a more effective negotiator. We recognize that many negotiations take longer than a minute; some hours, months and even decades. The EASY process, however, will be your guide to get your head in the game for each negotiation encounter. Our personal and coaching experiences clearly show that most negotiations are won or lost before the first words of communication between parties even take place.

We know that if you follow the E-A-S-Y process you will have more success and less stress in all areas of your life!

Around the Web

Perk Valley teachers ask for mediator in contract negotiations

China refutes report of resumption of East China Sea negotiation with Japan

Owners Not Uniform Heading into Labor Negotiations