Having Trouble Getting to “Yes”?

Negotiation is “the art of letting them have your way.” Daniele Vare

Negotiations are a central part of our lives. During the course of a day, we negotiate a host of issues, ranging from simple ones, such as who gets dropped off first to work, to more complex ones, such as negotiating the equity split in your brand new start-up. In each scenario, those with better negotiating skills have an advantage to arrive at a decision in their best interest. However, acquiring better negotiating skills takes time and experience. I strongly believe, that a better understanding of the negotiation process  will dramatically improve these skills. On a macro level, all negotiations consist of three main components. They are:

1. Issues: This is the central cause for negotiations to take place. Examples can be, the sale of your company, a salary increase or a partnership agreement. It is essential that everyone involved in the negotiation is on the same page, and has a thorough understanding of the issue being negotiated. Much of the time, the involved individuals fail to see the issue correctly, which leads to complications that could easily have been avoided. Understanding the issue at hand and making sure everyone is on the same page is hence very important.

2. Positions: Once the issue has been presented, the involved individuals take positions. For example, if the issue at hand is a salary increase, the employee will take the position that his performance warrants a pay increase, and the employer could take the position that the employee’s performance does not warrant this. It is through negotiations that a middle ground needs to be found, where both the employee and the employer can reach a mutually acceptable decision.

3. Interests: The positions we take are always motivated by certain interests. In the above example, the employee may want to buy himself a condominium or, be getting married and needs a salary increase  to afford his changing status. The employer on the other hand, may be under strict instructions by senior management to put in place a salary freeze because of the prevailing economic uncertainty, hence his position to deny a salary increase. Negotiating interests means, negotiating about things that people really want and need, not what they say they want or need. Often, these are not the same. People tend to take extreme positions, often designed to counter their opponent’s positions.

Understanding these basic foundational blocks is critical before one delves deeper into negotiation tactics. We have to be able to see the picture from a broader perspective in order to reach mutually acceptable decisions. During the course of the week, I will share a few steps with you, steps which have made my negotiational skills more affective. I hope they will be of some assistance to you. As always your comments and feedback will be greatly appreciated.

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