Whenever I go shopping, I am not entirely enticed by the price listed on the product I want to purchase. I end up looking for a sales assistant, so that I can make an inquiry into the possibility of getting a better, more favorable price, or a discount. In some cases, the sales assistant will yield or give alternatives. This haggling over the price is simply called Negotiation.
Everyone is a negotiator. Our daily lives are set up in such a way that whether formally or informally, we are always negotiating. Think about discussing terms of a new contract at the work place; a parent persuading a kid to finish homework; discussing shift changes with an employee, or talking with the employer on the possibility of a salary increment, or promotion.
What is prevalent in the negotiation scenarios painted above is that the end goal is prefaced on fulfilling a need or an interest.
Negotiation can be described as the back-and-forth communication geared toward reaching an agreement, and therefore resolving an existing conflict (of interest). This happens when two parties are in pursuit of similar interests that are limited in availability.
A skilled negotiator can creatively get what he wants and still manage to maintain a sound relationship with the other side. Whereas not every person is innately endowed with negotiation skills, the good news is that these skills can be acquired.
To be an at par negotiator, here are some suggested basics that one must put into consideration:
- Interests: This denotes the basic wants. Interests are premised on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and are often unspoken or hidden. An experienced negotiator will search for such interests from beneath the other side’s stated positions.
- Legitimacy: Every deal negotiated must be legitimate and fair. If the sales associate wants to offer a discount only if I pay in cash, I will most likely back out. Legitimacy adds an element of trust.
- Relationships: As you negotiate, there must be consideration of potential future interactions or business with the other side. Based on the situation, at times it is advisable not to go hard in the initial stage, if there are follow up meetings. This strengthens the relationship by building a rapport based on a win-win situation for both parties
- Alternatives and BATNA: This answers the question “what will we do if the current deal doesn’t pan out?” This involves an analysis of the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). For example, a potential employee who is offered a salary of $75,000 may have the following alternatives: a salary of $65,000 plus no weekend schedule, or $60,000 plus sign on bonus.
- Options: Refers to (any) available choices one might consider satisfying interests. Often, options capitalize on parties’ similarities and differences, and in so doing create value in negotiation and improve the parties’ satisfaction.
- Commitments: This denotes an agreement, demand, offer, or promise made by one or more parties.
- Communication: The success of your negotiation can hinge on your communication choices, such as whether you threaten or acquiesce, brainstorm jointly or make firm demands, make silent assumptions about interests or ask questions to probe them more deeply.