We negotiate daily. Whether it’s to define the scope of a project, close a sale or agree to who picks up who when soccer season starts. Negotiating has become a way of life for many, especially if you are an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial in spirit. In my work teaching Leadership & Influence within companies as well as coaching others to improve how they influence others, I’ve observed that the most successful negotiators/influencers do the following things to prepare:
Think ahead about what the other person’s influencing style is and how to address it.
There are many “styles” of negotiating. In his research on influencing, Dr. Terry Bacon found 10 basic styles. Here’s a past blog I wrote outlining them. Does this person like facts and figures? Do they get inspired by a compelling vision? Do they like to barter? We tend to use the influencing style that we prefer to sway others, even though that might not be their preferred style. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not to understand the frame of reference of the person they want to influence and come from their own.
Be clear on your picture of success.
What do you want to accomplish? Ask yourself: “If my highest wishes for an outcome were assured, what would I see?” List what you’d like to see happen and highlight those things that are “non-negotiable.” I recently coached an entrepreneur who was made an offer to sell her company to a larger one and become part of the leadership team. Her non-negotiable was to have stock in the acquiring company from the start.
Be ready to listen so that you understand what can make it a win-win for both parties.
Part of preparation is planning the questions you might ask as you enter negotiation with another. It’s easier to present what you want and trust that the other person will agree. By “telling” you miss the chance to learn more about what the other person values and what their non-negotiables are. You also run the risk of not influencing the other party because you don’t understand what’s important to them. Take time to seek information and use good questions. A good question in this context is one that is non-judgmental, open ended and delivered in the spirit of truly wanting to hear the other’s view.