It appears you have an easy day ahead of you tomorrow. Your schedule is not overbooked and things seem to be running according to plan. Upon arrival at work, however, you discover items you requested for won’t be available for another 1 week, 5 urgent tasks have been assigned to you by your supervisor, a co-worker in another department you requested information from is off sick and his/her colleagues are working on a deadline due in their department by end of business day. To make matters worse, a report you need within three hours will not be available until the last minute. How should you handle this situation? Who are the people you need to communicate with and what is your strategy for achieving what has now become urgent for you? It’s now obvious that at some point you will need to negotiate with someone to get their time and attention in order to help you achieve one or more of your new targets for the day. There are different styles of negotiation, depending on circumstances - where you do not expect to deal with people ever again and you do not need their goodwill, then it may be appropriate to "play hardball", seeking to win a negotiation while the other person loses out. Similarly, where there is a great deal at stake in a negotiation, then it may be appropriate to prepare in detail and legitimate "gamesmanship" to gain advantage. Anyone who has been involved with large sales negotiations will be familiar with this. Neither of these approaches is usually much good for resolving disputes with people with whom you have an ongoing relationship with or must communicate with continuously at work. Look at this way, If one person plays hardball, then this disadvantages the other person – who may or may not remember later…to your disadvantage. The best type of negotiation usually involves a ‘win-win’ approach to negotiation.
For a negotiation to be 'win-win', both parties should feel positive about the negotiation once it's over. This helps people keep good working relationships afterwards. This governs the style of the negotiation – histrionics and displays of emotion are clearly inappropriate because they undermine the rational basis of the negotiation and because they bring a manipulative aspect to them.
The negotiation itself is a careful exploration of your position and the other person’s position, with the goal of finding a mutually acceptable compromise that gives you both as much of what you want as possible. People's positions are rarely as fundamentally opposed as they may initially appear, it’s just that for the most part what is important and urgent to you at one point may or may not be urgent or important to the other person, hence the need to find middle ground. Therefore it is important to negotiate in a way that protects your interpersonal relationships rather than damage it. Negotiation must be done to take care of present issues and needs while ensuring there is a fertile ground for future dialogue and any negotiations (if applicable) Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are negotiating with the aim of protecting interpersonal relationships:
· Keep your communication style direct by sharing plans, not concepts. Think collaboration not confrontation.
· Be clear about what you want and practice asking for it in a calm, direct manner. Our advice: don’t be confrontational. Getting fired-up and emotional may have an adverse reaction.
· Negotiation is a conversation and you may risk getting off-track. Our advice: stay focused; remain on point and on course to avoid a negotiation disaster.
· Gaining buy in along the way will get you closer to your goal faster. Making sure that the other party is being heard is a sign of respect and will be appreciated. Our advice: repeat the points of the other side and use language such as “Let me make sure I completely understand your point.”
· Successful negotiating requires preparation. Be prepared with a strong understanding of your needs and motivations, as well as the other side. My advice: do your research, gather together relevant information, and if it’s complicated, get outside expertise from a mentor or colleague.
· Starting with your bottom line may close the door on negotiations. My advice: be prepared to compromise and expect the other party to compromise as well.
· Being fair is not a loss. It shows that you are willing to adjust your expectations to meet the needs of the other side. My advice: ask the question, “Why don’t you tell me what you think is fair.” You may be surprised at the answer.
· Negotiating is a process, not an event. One conversation may not culminate in a final decision. My advice: be willing to say, “Let me think about that and get back to you in 24 hours.”
As business professionals, we negotiate every day on topics ranging from work assignments, project delivery dates and even business travel and the primary purpose of negotiation is to resolve situations where what you want conflicts with what someone else wants. So next time there is a clear discrepancy between what you need from someone at work and what he/she is able to provide, why not try to negotiate keeping in mind the personal relationship you want to maintain at work. Have a great week everyone!