The only negotiating result that can stand the test of time is win-win. BRAVE negotiating can get you there, working through behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and the environment from the outside in as you prepare in advance, manage the moment and follow through.
(Regular readers of this column will recognize this as an application of the BRAVE leadership framework.)
Environment: Start with context, history, recent results and the needs of others that won't be directly involved in the negotiations.
Values: Next think through your own needs and concerns - and the other party's needs and concerns.
Attitude: Think through your strategy and plan for the negotiation as well as your posture and general approach.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of "Think Like a Negotiator" suggests two of the seven most common negotiating mistakes come into play here:
Mistake #1: Lacking confidence - born of preparation, anticipating objections, and discerning "hot button" triggers. "Think about these things in advance, including what you will do if they hit one of your emotional triggers."
Mistake #2: Thinking something is non-negotiable - "Everything is negotiable! It's a mindset."
Manage the moment
Relationships are at the heart of successful negotiating. If you can't connect with someone you can't get to a win-win result. So, get started; clarify issues, positions, interests; find/create alternatives; build agreement.
- Start by connecting as human beings. Pay attention to how you show up to help others to be open to you. Eldonna suggests this includes the way you dress and the colors you wear. If they're wearing suits, wear a suit. If they're wearing jeans, wear jeans. Fit in.
Eldonna also suggested that if someone says "I see your point", they may have a bias to visual communication. Draw them pictures. If they say "That sound like....", they may have an auditory bias. Explain things. If they say, "That feels good to me". Pay attention to kinesthetics. Net, bias your communication mode to what will best connect with them.
- Then fix any outstanding issues before trying to move on. Make sure you follow up on anything you committed to do and tackle unanswered questions. Doing so builds credibility. Not doing so destroys it.
- Focus on areas of agreement: common interests, shared values. Start with the things that get heads nodding in the right direction. You're aiming to make everyone feel good. Why not start there.
Mistake #3 is not building relationships first. As Eldonna puts it, "Get personal."Clarify issues, positions, interests:
- Once you've connected you can move to the substance of the conversation. The advice is to state, support, listen, probe (staying rationally focused on issues being negotiated).
- Then summarize new areas of agreement and differences to resolve.
Mistake #4 is not asking for what you want. Do so.Find/create alternatives:
- Problem solving requires a healthy dose of listening. Ask about needs and priorities. Share information about your own needs and priorities. Solicit ideas. Suggest alternatives.
PrimeGenesis partner Roger Neill suggests the vast majority of disagreements are rooted in misunderstanding. Understanding is born of listening. Don't fall into what Eldonna calls mistake #5 "talking too much." Have enough confidence and presence to let someone else fill the silence.Build agreement:
- Armed with understanding you're ready to build an agreement. This will involve proposals, concessions, summarizing, testing for agreement.
- Don't hesitate to bring back in personal connections.
- And make sure you lock in next steps and timetables.
The last two mistakes rear their ugly heads here,
#6 not documenting.
#7 is signing without reading. Get it down in writing. Make sure everyone reads it. Then sign it.
Behaviors are what actually happen after the agreement - the implementation. Make sure you deliver your part. Keep communicating. Monitor progress and revise together as conditions change. This way you'll enter the next negotiation with a context of mutual respect and trust. It's only win-win if it looks, sounds and feels like win-win to all involved over time.