Negotiation Apparently Can Be Learned
You may just need to lose badly enough to realize it!
Last year, I wrote about entering the UConn School of Business and School of Law negotiation competition and getting completely out performed by the other competitors. They had skills, content understanding, and an approach that always seemed to have me on my heels or unable to find a way to get my interests met.
Three effective negotiation strategies used (and that I wish I had utilized better!):
Focus on building a relationship with the other party by asking questions.
Purpose: Build a roadway for further conversations by showing respect for them and the process.
Listen more carefully for what is important to the other side (i.e. what is and isn’t said) than explaining your own side (i.e. possibly giving away your priorities and/or not allowing the other side to overshare).
Purpose: Determining the other party’s needs and interests. The longer you can stay on interests, without dragging your feet, rather than jumping to trading offers the better your offers can be tailored to as best a “win-win” as possible.
Letting numbers anchor the negotiation usually lead to a slow if not ineffective process.
Be prepared to change strategy quickly after offers start, especially when something seems too high/low or is offered/accepted too quickly.
Purpose: Offers can show people’s interests as well as their style. Staying calm during this period and varying your approach (questioning/answering, passive/active) can meet the other party where they are or keep them from controlling the negotiation.
Beware of last minute negotiations.
Purpose: When being pressured due to time or other stressors it becomes too easy to lose sight of all the pieces and only focus on “winning” a certain point possibly at the expense of something bigger.
Negotiations are complex and based on relationships, context, and goals. Learning and practicing specific skills can completely change how you view the process.
Some resources to get started are:
Takeaway: Negotiation is about practice, prep, and people...and all are areas that one can learn more about!
For some evidence, the team I’m on is in the world finals this year (thankfully to my partners):