NEGOTIATION IS SOMETHING WE ALL DO a lot of in business. When a member of your team has a different idea about a project, or when a client wants you to cut your rates – all of these examples involve negotiation.
Author Harvey Mackay advises us to ask for what we want, and when we do we’ll often get it. When we hear “No” it is often not final. Adam Galinsky from the Kellogg School of Marketing recommends negotiating with our heads rather than our hearts. He cautions against negotiating when the primary concern is the relationship. The final decision may be so watered down in order to keep the peace that we come away unfulfilled.
Roger Fischer’s book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In would have us consider what we’ll do if negotiations fail. He suggests we identify our Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). A BATNA answers the question, “What happens if negotiations break down?” Being too committed to reaching an agreement is a real danger. Negotiating is more effective when you have a solid BATNA.
Negotiation is more art than science, more intuition than a ridged process. And although there are many examples of poor negotiation and books from experts on the subject, some of the things we can all learn is good negotiation requires a plan, a deep interest in human dynamics, flexibility and commitment to continuous improvement.