I'm sure you've heard of the phrase 'win-win negotiating'. Over the past decade I've been experimenting and teaching a new approach which takes negotiated outcomes to an even higher level.
The challenge with traditional approaches can be the lack of collaboration and generation of new thinking to generate an outcome where both parties leave the negotiation with more than they thought possible.
Usually a negotiation starts because of a problem. One party wants one thing and the party wants something different. The problem is we tend to then discuss the two situations around a table to gain an amicable agreement. Often with one party not really happy and looking to cut back on the service or product in secret to maintain their margins!
It has been said, "Negotiation is a give and take process, and being in control of the process is the only way to be successful at it.” Celso Cukierkom
The only problem with a give and take process is that it can kill creativity and new ideas to satisfy both parties interests. The discussion tends to just be around the two positions of the parties involved.
“When negotiating in a project context it's important to remember that the most important aspect is what happens after the negotiation. You still have to deliver a project with the people you just negotiated with.” Graham Wilson
The main shift in this new approach is to start by unlearning all the tactics and manipulation techniques used by many to influence, persuade and cajole people into a solution. Tactics like: good cop - bad cop, choice close, third party, higher authority, silence and imposed deadlines. It's good to be able to spot when these are being used on you but they have no place in an effective negotiation in today's world.
I'm a big fan of the principled approach to negotiation outlined in Getting to Yes by Ury and Fry. They recommend that we:
- Separate the people from the problem
- Focus on interests not positions
- Generate a variety of options for mutual gain
- Insist on objective criteria
Principles are great but I've found it is the crafting of an effective process that ensures success. We need to see negotiation as a collaborative process that is crafted for the context you are in. In a project context it could look something like this:
The secret is in the set up, relationship building and the skills of the negotiators to have great conversations and dialogue. They need to be skilled in problem solving, creativity and visual management techniques. We recommend that the principles outlined previously are used to guide behaviours of both parties during the negotiation process.
We also like to develop the conversational skills of presence, hyper-awareness, de-coding, voicing and flow control on our programmes. Visual management techniques are really important too. When you put the issue on a whiteboard, flip chart or paper on the table, you separate the people from the problem. The emotions are reduced and both parties start to work together to craft a great solution to the situation.
All the great problem solving and creativity tools also come into play as both parties co -build a solution. Six Thinking Hats, Force Field Analysis, Gap Leap, 5 Whys, Cause and Effect, Radiant Problem Solving to name a few.
Once the climate is set, trust established and great dialogue takes place, that is when the magic really happens. Together you create 'win-more win-more' outcomes.
Happy 'win-more win-more' negotiating...