Most are familiar with the cliché “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” a phrase that easily can be applied to teaching and practicing negotiation skills.
The lead story in the July 25 issue of Executive Briefings, “Teaching Negotiation Skills? Embrace the Power of ‘No,’” prompted Stephen Frenkel, Mediation Works Inc. director of negotiation programs, to write and say “no” might not be the best strategy around which to build a negotiation strategy.
Instead, CLOs should concern themselves with maintaining and even improving long-term relationships.
Frenkel said crafting a negotiation that is mutually satisfactory to everyone likely means both parties will come back to the table to negotiate in good faith because they will be satisfied with the agreement and will want to continue a relationship. If one party stands firm in the beginning and wins, that initial gain might not carry weight over the long haul because the losing party’s underlying interests have not been met.
“You have to think about what’s important to you besides money,” Frenkel said. “What are you trying to accomplish? Asking, ‘How can I make the other side happy?’ is actually asking, ‘How can I make this a better deal for myself?’
“By making them happy, you’re making them want to do business with you over the long term, so you’re improving your own position. Think about, ‘How can I get what I want over the long term and ensure that this person is going to continue to come back, support me and see me as a partner?’”
Going into the negotiation, CLOs should know what their interests are and be prepared to offer multiples ways for the other party to meet them.
Likewise, Frenkel said CLOs should learn the negotiating party’s interests in case there are low-cost, high-value things they can offer (such as metrics that clearly illustrate learning’s value and impact) to firm up their position and ease the negotiation process.
“The CLO has to think about the impact they’re trying to have, and they have to try to appeal to the CEO or the person they’re negotiating with for resources,” Frenkel said. “‘Can I have money for this?’ might not be a great way to go about it. Instead, say, ‘I think you’re interested in decreasing turnover and attrition rates and increasing productivity and the efficiency of our workforce.’ If you can negotiate with the people you’re looking to get resources from and appeal to their underlying interests, you have a much better chance of getting what you’re looking for.”
Frenkel also said starting a negotiation with “no” isn’t a good way to build a long-term working relationship because even if you do manage to win, the negotiating party might give you what you want but likely will realize what happened after leaving the table, and that party’s not going to be happy about it.
“They may not fully follow through with what they promised you because they realize they didn’t make a good agreement,” he said. “They may feel like you pulled one over on them, and even if they have to follow through, they’re not going to be as willing to offer the same kind of assistance and support next time because they’re resentful, and they’re going to know the angle that you’re taking. ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice’ shame on me.’
“Sometimes, hardball negotiating tactics work in the short term, but sometimes they don’t. Trust, communication, the working relationship are all huge aspects in negotiating in good faith and getting what you want on a consistent, long-term basis. That’s what the collaborative, win-win approach does for you.”
Mediation Works Inc. provides negotiation training using an in-class model developed in connection with the Harvard Negotiation Project and the interests-based model of negotiation based on the book, “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher, Bruce Patton and William L. Ury.
The organization offers interactive, workshop-style learning that uses a series of negotiation simulations, interactive presentations and role-play with opportunities for hands-on practice and coaching.
“We like to dive right into a mock negotiation to help everybody recognize their default approach to negotiation,” Frenkel said. “It’s a great launching pad for us to draw out all the different styles of negotiating and define negotiation along two separate axes, the substance, what you want to get out of the negotiation and the relationship with the person you’re negotiating with.”
Along these axes, five styles of negotiation might emerge. On the far left are the competitors (people who don’t care about the relationship and only want what they want), and on the opposite axis, there are the accommodators (people who will sacrifice all substance to reach a deal and be seen as a negotiation partner).
Close to the competitors are the avoiders, who don’t want to engage in negotiation, will not get what they want and will lose their ability to build a relationship because they haven’t engaged in the negotiation.
In the middle are the compromisers (people who split the difference and want a quick and easy resolution that seems fair). This group sees compromise as a positive thing in a negotiation.
In the far right are the collaborators, who will take the time to build a relationship, find out what the other party wants and develop creative options to meet the other party’s interests and gain substance by giving substance.
“We try to get people to be in that top, right-hand corner,” Frenkel said. “It takes time, work, practice and preparation. It’s not the quickest or easiest process to go through or the way to negotiate for a quick and easy resolution, but it does tend to develop the strongest, most durable, long-lasting agreements with the most value for all parties and the best working relationship so they keep coming back to the table to meet again.”
To read “Teaching Negotiation Skills? Embrace the Power of ‘No,’” go to http://clomedia.com/executive-briefings/2007/July/1918/index.php
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