Negotiating 101
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Negotiating 101

From Planning Your Strategy to Finding a Common Ground, an Essential Guide to the Art of Negotiating

Peter Sander

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eBook - ePub

Negotiating 101

From Planning Your Strategy to Finding a Common Ground, an Essential Guide to the Art of Negotiating

Peter Sander

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About This Book

A quick-and-easy guide to core business and career concepts—no MBA required! The ability to negotiate a deal. Confidence to oversee staff. Complete, accurate monitoring of expenses.In today's business world, these are must-have skills. But all too often, comprehensive business books turn the important details of best practices into tedious reading that would put even a CEO to sleep.From hiring and firing to strategizing and calculating revenues, Negotiating 101 is an easy-to-understand roadmap of today's complex business world, packed with hundreds of entertaining tidbits and concepts that can't be found anywhere else. So whether you're a new business owner, a middle manager, or an entry-level employee, this 101 series has the answers you need to conduct business in a smarter way.

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Chapter 1

The Negotiating Imperative

So you think you don’t ever have to negotiate? Life just moves forward. In business, negotiating is someone else’s job, right? For you, it’s just a “discussion.” And when you get home from work and have issues to settle with your family, that’s just a discussion, too. Right?
Hardly. No matter what you do in today’s fast-paced business (and personal) world, every day you’ll encounter things you need or want. Not just things, but also behaviors and actions. Discuss them? Yes, it starts with that. But you’re not just discussing—you’re working out a deal. You’re working out an agreement.
That agreement can be in the interest of your own individual achievement, your workgroup’s achievement, or your organization’s achievement as a whole. You want to go get it. That requires negotiation. Especially if you have to give up something—and the other party has to give up something—to reach an agreement.
At its roots, negotiation is the art and science—the process—of getting what you want. This chapter describes further what negotiation is (and isn’t), how it fits into today’s business and organizational context, and what is (and isn’t) new about negotiation today.


What Negotiation Is, What It Means, and Why
Say you run a video production business: Filmographic Productions. Through that business you make some of the best video “shorts” in town. You make excellent local commercials, short training and awareness pieces for business and nonprofit entities, and occasionally some cinema-quality shots for movie producers.
You have two employees and an array of contractors who help out from time to time. You hire actors. Occasionally you hire outside editors. But when someone asks you about your negotiating skills, you laugh. “I don’t negotiate,” you proclaim.
Think again.
You do negotiate. You negotiate with customers over deals and gigs. You negotiate with contractors and employees over duties and price. You negotiate with a landlord. You negotiate with sellers and renters of equipment. You negotiate for the use of props and places to shoot. You negotiate with local police departments to close roads and run traffic breaks. You negotiate for studio time.
You probably spend more time negotiating than shooting film.
You need negotiating skills.
Now suppose, instead of running your own production business, you’re an admin specialist at a large company. Your boss and department members you support do most of the “outside” negotiating with customers and suppliers—your job is to support them.
Think you don’t need negotiating skills? You bet you do. You have to negotiate for people’s time. You have to negotiate for meeting rooms. You have to negotiate with the nighttime janitor to make sure meeting notes aren’t erased from the conference room whiteboard. You have to negotiate for your own vacation time and perhaps for your salary and other forms of compensation.
You must negotiate and negotiate well. Not just to perform the duties of the job, but also to avoid losing control of what’s going on in your work. A large part of your job is about negotiation. You do it all the time.
And when you log off and go home? Think the negotiating stops there? Hardly. You have to negotiate with the young ones to get their homework done and to be home in time for dinner. You have to negotiate with your partner over everything from who does the dishes to larger decisions like where you’re taking the family for vacation next time around.
These examples just touch on negotiations within your inner world—your workplace, your home, your family. The spectrum widens considerably when you consider the negotiations necessary to buy something big or to get your furnace fixed or to get the best deal on a cellular plan.
Every one of us negotiates every day. Not necessarily from sunup to sundown—but a lot. It’s an unavoidable feature of today’s life.


I always like to begin coverage on an important topic, in this case negotiation, by defining the term itself and giving some insight into what it is and what it isn’t. So here are some popular definitions, including one of my own, for the word negotiation. I’ve also made some comments about each:
Negotiation is a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement (Oxford Dictionaries). This is the simplest and most straightforward definition I could find. End result: an “agreement.” Process: a “discussion.” The definition captures the basics and is a good place to start, but it doesn’t tell us much about the discussion or the agreement.
Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people or parties intended to reach a beneficial outcome (Wikipedia). Here we get a little more “color” on both the discussion and the agreement. The discussion is between two or more parties; the agreement is a “beneficial outcome.” Of course that raises the question, “Beneficial to whom?” I’ll come back to that topic, but cutting to the chase for a moment—beneficial to both parties (win-win) is usually best.
Negotiation is a give and take process between two or more parties, each with its own aims, needs, and viewpoints (Business Dictionary). Still better. I like “give and take.” That’s what we do in the discussion—give on some points in order to take on others, back and forth, back and forth, until a satisfactory agreement, hopefully for both parties, is reached. I like the enhanced description of the parties and their interests—each with its own “aims, needs, and viewpoints.” True.
Negotiation is about having a give and take discussion with other parties, often with opposing interests, to get something important that you want or need or to achieve a goal (my definition). My somewhat more labored definition covers a lot of ground: “give and take discussion” and “other parties with opposing interests.” I added “to get something important”—I feel that this is an important pretext, for it is seldom worth the energy to negotiate for something that isn’t important (a “tempest in a teapot”)—yet it seems that people are disposed to do it all the time! Don’t waste time; negotiate when it counts. The outcome should be something you want or need, or to achieve a goal. You should not negotiate for negotiating’s sake—again a common downfall. Negotiate smart, not just often!


What Negotiation Isn’t
Quite often the best way to understand what something is is to understand what it isn’t. In that light it’s worth taking a minute to list out a few “isn’ts” about negotiation.
When we hear the word negotiation, we might conjure up negative images based on past events. Maybe we recall news broadcasts filled with venomous stories and diatribes about adversarial, ugly, and even vicious negotiations between archrivals. One story might have been about a union pitted against management to end or avert a strike; another story might have been about a negotiation for the release of a hostage. Regardless, stories like these don’t exactly make us want to get involved in negotiating something. In fact, most of us would probably wish to distance ourselves as much as possible.
But not all negotiations are venomous, and certainly not all are high-stakes affairs on behalf of unions or hostages or other combative groups. Most negotiations are far tamer than what might occur in these situations.
With that in mind, a well-planned, well-executed negotiation is not any of the following:
Not a confrontation. Yes, the two sides may have different views, goals, wants, or needs. But the discussion of those factors should be calm, civil, and factual—not an “I win, you lose” confrontation.
Not an argument. Same idea. Both of you have something to gain from the negotiation.
Not a disagreement. However, the negotiation may play a role in settling a disagreement.
Not a shouting match. Again, peace carries the day. Negotiation brings both sides together rather than driving them apart.
Not a win-lose proposition (in most cases). A win-lose mentality may create more advantage today but loses in the long run as you alienate your counterparty.
A good negotiation is a peaceful, thought-out effort to reach an agreement on something important through well-prepared and executed negotiating skills, strategies, and tactics.
Negotiation—Fear Not!

Because of the perceived confrontational nature of negotiation, many people shy away from it as they would from confrontation itself. Such a fear is natural. But just as the natural fear of public speaking can be overcome, there are ways to overcome the fear of negotiation and even channel that fear into energy to be successful!
Successful public speakers will tell you that the best way to overcome fear in speaking is preparation. Know your stuff, be prepared for the unexpected, and boost your confidence through knowledge. It works every time for speakers, and the same principles apply for negotiators. Be prepared. With enough preparation, no one (your business adversary, your employee, or your teenager) will be able to trip you up.
As John F. Kennedy said in his 1961 presidential inauguration address: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”


Speed Now More Than Ever
Negotiation is all around us—no matter who you are in the business world—and as noted above, it doesn’t stop when you come home from work. Although the primary focus of this book is to help you become a more effective business negotiator, it is always worth keeping in mind that negotiations happen all the time outside of work, and that the same skills and strategies apply.
Negotiation is a basic part of life; this is the reality of today’s fast-paced world. Although some might think that the negotiation involved with a project takes away time from managing it, in fact negotiating is part of managing the project. For most projects tackled in today’s commercial world, negotiation is an increasingly vital part of the process. Why? Let’s look into it.


All this negotiating has to be done faster than ever before. These days, business, technology, and products all move at a blinding speed. So does your competition, and if you don’t keep up with them, you’ll be left behind. In the case of the video production company I discussed earlier, you’ll get a very narrow window of time to negotiate the deal and a limited time to put the production together. You can’t spend all your time negotiating. You must get the negotiations done quickly so that you can move on to producing the new product. Your client has tight deadlines to meet, after all. If negotiations bog down, your clients will begin to look elsewhere and your competition will “get the worm” first!
For this reason most negotiations must occur very quickly—quicker than ever before. Often they are tucked into odd moments of the day as executives and employees tap relentlessly on their smartphones. These days, there is often no time to hold face-to-face meetings with the players involved. Some part, if not all, of the negotiations will probably be done by email, phone, instant messaging (IM), or even text.
The goal of every negotiation is to get what you need or want as quickly as possible so that you and your organization can move forward without delays. However, even at this accelerated pace, you must beware of harmful concessions or oversights—or of missing the boat completely. The price of being slow is high; the price of negotiating poorly can be even higher.
The tactics you employ come from an assortment of traditional negotiating techniques, all sped up to accomplish what ideally is a win-win. But even when the negotiation has been concluded and the terms agreed upon, you’re not done. Even when running in fast mode, it’s important to come away with what you want, while also preserving a long-term relationship with the other party. Why? Because your hope is that you’ll be working with these same people in the future.
Why So Fast Today?

There can be no doubt that in today’s world, the speed of business has increased. This isn’t just a result of texting, IM, or other communications media.
The changes in the speed of business are a reflection of structural changes in the nature of business and commerce itself. Whereas twenty or thirty years ago it might have taken a long time—several years, possibly—for a product to go from prototype to market, companies today bring products to market far more quickly. Business must respond to a rapidly changing customer base, one that’s plugged into the Internet and gets its information at the speed of light. The computer and connectivity technology developed in the late twentieth century has come home to roost, and propels a never-ending wave of innovation and ...

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