SIX ATTITUDES FOR SUCCESSFUL Business NEGOTIATIONS
Practicing and internalizing these six attitudes can help shape the way you build trust while sitting at the negotiating (or dinner) table:
1) Assume this is but one conversation in an ongoing narrative.
Over the course of your career, you’ll engage in thousands of negotiations. Getting your way at any cost is not the reputation you want. Though people may not remember the suboptimal result of a single exchange, they’ll never forget how they felt when you dismissed their concerns or treated them disrespectfully. You’re not obligated to make sure those on the other side get a great deal, but you do want them to walk away feeling respected. If they do, the opportunities that will come to you in the future will more than compensate for whatever it is you think you gave up to ensure a fair deal.
2) Consider the other side’s interests.
Understanding that your negotiating partners’ interests are legitimate conveys respect. (Assume they may have anxieties about your trustworthiness too.) When they see your efforts to understand their perspective, they’re likely to be more willing to engage in honest dialogue, which makes it easier to find a solution everyone sees as a win. Think of your goal as putting a fair price on what the other parties want. It’s up to them to decide if their demands are worth the price you’ve set. You’ll know you’re getting close when you can describe their needs in a way that satisfies them and they can acknowledge the price of what they’re asking for.
3) Aim to create value for all parties.
Nobody’s counseling capitulation. The point isn’t to pummel the other person into submission, as if you win only when he or she loses. If your counterpart benefits from doing business with you, and you walk away satisfied too, you’ve created two wins. Strengthening your relationship with the other party can mean more business, more referrals, a stronger brand, and more lasting agreements.
4) Eschew psych-out tactics.
Many people start negotiations by assessing who has more legal or economic firepower, and who’s more willing to walk away. This power only mindset can negatively charge a discussion and get it off on the wrong foot, turning a contest of issues into a battle of wills.
You can avoid that by focusing first on the principles both sides agree on. Consider Lee Iacocca, the former CEO of Chrysler. His approach to negotiation was consistent with building trust in negotiations: “Being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re willing to sacrifice to accomplish it.”
5) Find power in inquiry.
Most people will tell you what they want out of negotiations if you simply ask the right questions. In negotiation, as in life, doing more listening than talking is a good rule of thumb. Asking probing questions about the other party’s perspective may yield insights into how to structure a deal. If the other side tells you its chief concern is price, and if you’re willing to meet the price, you may be able to set the other terms. Understanding the interdependence of the five elements noted at the beginning of this chapter (price, terms, time frames, remedies, and representations and warranties) can help make for win-win agreements.
6) Choose carefully the people you negotiate with.
It’s tough to hold productive discussions with people who get no joy out of the process, and prefer Gekko fighting to finding creative solutions. As Trammell Crow used to tell me, “You can’t do good business with bad people.” You can’t come to fair agreements with people whose only concern is their own short-term gain, serving only their benighted self-interests. So if you’re intent on building a high-trust organization, choose those who are already on the bus and thereby ensure that at least your internal negotiations are with people you trust. And follow George Bernard Shaw’s advice: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” Try to negotiate (and hire and promote) only trustworthy people.
Each conversation and negotiation either advances or destroys trust. Building a brand for fairness deepens trust among all members of the team, resulting in flexible arrangements along with enjoyable relationships among teammates.
Excerpted with permission from The 10 Laws of Trust: Expanded Edition by Joel Peterson, copyright Joel C. Peterson with David A. Kaplan.