The Chaos Stage in a Negotiation

All negotiations tend to follow seven sequential stages. Every negotiation has to go through all of these stages whether the participants realise it or not. Problems arise when one or both sides don’t know what stage they are at, or try to skip a stage. Then the chaos stage takes over.
The seven stages are:
Climate setting – what is the atmosphere in which the negotiation is to be conducted. Will it be open and friendly? Cool and objective? Hostile or cheeky? What is the timescale for the deal, and the agenda? Who is going to be involved and what’s the venue?
Exploring wants and needs – what are the items people want in the deal, and more importantly why do they need it? If they want a certain price and you can work out why they need that price then maybe there are other ways apart from price to meet that need
Coinage – are there any concessions you can make which are of low value to you but meet a high value need or motivation on the other side
Bidding – making offers
Closing the deal

Chaos reigns if people skip the first stage of preparation. Many people feel they don’t have time for preparation in our busy world full of emails to send, calls to make and meetings to attend. However, missing out on preparation means preparing to miss out:

Who is in your team? What roles will they play? What’s the bargaining power on both sides? What are your risks of doing the deal? What are the alternatives? What is your ideal outcome? What is your bottom line? What does the other side really need? Is there any history? How are they likely to behave as individuals? All […]

By |September 16th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on The Chaos Stage in a Negotiation

Nobody Takes any Notice of Me in Negotiation

This is a common problem- you feel that whatever you do, your issues are being ignored in the negotiation. This is frustrating and can be very costly.
Sometimes the problem here is the attitude or mind-set you bring to a negotiation. If you go into a negotiation feeling like it’s going to go badly then that is what is likely to happen. Any anxieties or lack of confidence seep out to the other side, who sub consciously or otherwise will try to push you harder as a result. This in turn makes you more anxious and hesitant. You can’t get your words out, your body language looks weak. No wonder the other side isn’t paying any attention to your needs – they don’t feel that they have to.
This kind of attitude can be dispelled in various ways. You can coach yourself into a more optimistic frame of mind by reminding yourself of occasions when you have negotiated well in the past or felt more confident. You can also make sure you have a proper perspective of the challenge represented by the negotiation, rather than relying on a distorted view of it or over generalising based on exaggerating the impact of small problems. You could also make sure you have someone with you who feels more confident and assertive than you and helps lift your own confidence.
The other reason that people may not be taking you seriously is if you bid uncertainly. When you make offers you need to be assertive; “I want” or “I need” or ” I require”. Many people fail to do this and ask for what they want in a conditional or wishy-washy way; “would it be alright if…?” Or “could I […]

By |September 9th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on Nobody Takes any Notice of Me in Negotiation

How to Overcome your Lack of Connection with the Other Side in Negotiation

Often you find in a negotiation that the parties just “miss” each other. There is no connection and it is as though each is speaking a different language. This makes agreement difficult to reach as neither side “gets” the other and so their exchanges are often rather stilted and awkward. This can be because either or both sides are using the wrong behaviour for that person. There are 7 billion people in the world and they are all different, with different traits and patterns of thinking. This means that they are influenced by different behaviours and in different ways. Yet most people behave the same way when negotiating, whoever they are dealing with. It stands to reason that this cannot work with everybody. Sometimes they will click with a person and sometimes they will definitely rub someone up the wrong way.

Here are some examples of different types of behaviour from different people. Some people focus on the big picture when negotiating, some focus on the detail. Some people are quick to make decisions, others avoid decisions and don’t like committing themselves. Some people are very animated and involved in the conversation (called being “associated”), and some are very distant and disengaged (called “dissociated”).

The trick is to adapt your behaviour to the person in front of you – different strokes for different folks:
So if you are dealing with a “big picture” person you can use a big, bold behaviour like “visualising ” – painting a picture of the future so as to inspire agreement. This will not work with someone who is more focused on the detail. For a detail-person you need a behaviour like “proposing with reasons” – information, documents, spread-sheets which […]

By |September 6th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on How to Overcome your Lack of Connection with the Other Side in Negotiation

“Winning Without Losing” is a book that shows you that you really can have it all…

It is written by Martin Bjergegaard and Jordan Milne, and is essentially a guide to combining excellence as an entrepreneur with a happy and fulfilled lifestyle. They have noticed that both successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs frequently accompany their efforts with lack of attention to family, friends, health and some of the simple pleasures that make us happy, including having positive relationships and feeling good physically and mentally. This is ironic given that many entrepreneurs set out on their journey believing that success in their business will liberate them and give them the freedom to live a happy and fulfilled life. Martin and Jordan have created a book all about what they call the “New Dual Optimum”, with 66 tips for balancing entrepreneurial success and personal fulfilment. They show that greater effort at work at the expense of the things that make us happy in fact triggers the law of diminishing marginal returns – delivering less success, not more.

Martin and Jordan are both entrepreneurs so they speak from experience. They run a successful incubator, “Rainmaking”, which in six years has achieved 3 successful exits, and created 8 start ups with revenues of US 50 million and 100 employees. They have also canvassed the views of many other successful entrepreneurs who live out the balance they advocate in their daily lives.

Their sixty six tips are organised into seven sections with essays to support each tip. Here are some examples from each section;

Efficiency boosters: Examples here include a number of collaborative initiatives such as gathering a team of great co-founders, and spending enough time with your team. It also includes tips to boost your well-being such as meditating for at least 12 minutes every day, and making […]

By |August 30th, 2013|Blog|1 Comment

7 Tips to Enjoy Life While Negotiating

The personal negotiations we face in our daily lives can become a source of stress and anxiety. Whether making a deal for a house sale or vying for that salary raise, the process can overwhelm you – but does it have to? Jordan Milne and Martin Bjergegaard, Co-Authors of The International Bestseller Winning Without Losing ( share how strategies in their new book can be carried through to negotiation in both business and your personal life to help you win on all levels while enjoying the ride. These tips help you to maximise winning results without losing out in other areas of your life:

Focus on the wildly important: It is easy to fall victim to spending countless hours negotiating something that ultimately ends up being insignificant or trivial to us – either because we get engaged (by others), want to be ‘’right’’ or believe it to be important at the time. One of the secrets to having a balanced life and approach to negotiation is knowing yourself well enough to determine what is truly important to you (the wildly important)- and saving your energy to ‘’fight’’ for those. Being selective in what you take on opens up your schedule for what is truly necessary. Once you establish that something is indeed worth negotiating, focus on the wildly important once again – the few key things that really matter within that negotiation itself.

Get your timing right: In business as in life, timing is everything. The same holds true for negotiation – choosing when to engage can make all the difference. Before entering into an important negotiation, consider and evaluate the best time on 3 levels: for yourself, for your ‘’opponent’’ and the macro-climate. […]

By |August 27th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on 7 Tips to Enjoy Life While Negotiating

Overcoming the Difficulties of ‘Remote’ Negotiation

These days negotiation is often done by phone or on email. However, Negotiation is much easier face to face than when it is done remotely. Face to face you have much more data about how someone looks, feels and sounds. You have the body language and the tone of their voice and nuances in what they say which are impossible to pick up from an email.

Email also has other disadvantages. It is very black and white- but negotiations often need a little ambiguity as the participants explore a solution. Because of its permanent nature and the fact that it is in written form, e-mail is often “received” at a higher volume than it is intended to be sent. So people can get upset reading it in a way that the sender might not have intended. At the same time people often hide behind emails to make a statement or strike a pose in a way that they would never do face to face, so this is another reason why email negotiation can raise the temperature. Finally, if people are negotiating in their second language email can create misunderstandings. It’s normally easier to understand the spoken word in a foreign language than it is to read or write it.

So, if you are contemplating an email negotiation or one is going wrong here are some tips:

Try and negotiate face to face, at least part of the time, if you can. If you can’t then video conferencing is okay as at least you can see the other person. Phone calls are the next best option as at least you can hear the other person’s voice. Email is the least preferred option but if you have to […]

By |August 20th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on Overcoming the Difficulties of ‘Remote’ Negotiation

Overcoming Deadline Pressure in a Negotiation

We often find ourselves negotiating against deadlines – often imposed by the other side. This can be very stressful and makes us vulnerable to making unwanted concessions, just to get the deal done.

“If the deal’s not done by Tuesday, there’s no deal”, would be a typical demand from the other side.

“Ouch! That pressure is doing my head in” would be a typical internal response.

There are two possible scenarios here;

The first is that the deadline is just a tactic from the other side. Tough guys often use deadlines tactically to heap pressure on their opponents. The answer in this case is to test the deadline. If it is not real they will back off. You can ask them something like; “So are you saying that if the deal is done on Wednesday rather than Tuesday, and we all get more out of it then you don’t want to do the deal?” If the deadline is real then the only possible answer this question is “Yes”. However, more often than not, you will get a conditional response e.g. “I’m not exactly saying that, we just need to get the deal done quickly”. If you get that kind of answer then you know that the deadline is not real. You also know that it is probably worth ignoring any other pressure tactics applied by this person, as they don’t really mean it.

But what if the deadline IS real – for either the other side or you? One option here is to share the negotiating problem and its solution – brainstorm the answer together. You can say something like “look, we are all in this together, we both need a satisfactory outcome […]

By |August 19th, 2013|Blog|1 Comment

Finding the key to open a Deadlocked Deal

Deadlock in deal making can arise for a number of different reasons.

However, one reason which is particularly common is that the parties get stuck having a positional negotiation based solely on what they want- this price, that delivery date, that number of units, etc…

Positional negotiations are bad news as they don’t give the parties any flexibility. If I want to buy something for £50 and you want me to pay £1,000, then there is no obvious way of resolving the disagreement without one of us disappointing the other which is very frustrating for everybody. In this situation it’s quite common for the negotiation to be marked by bad feeling, as if you are attacking my position it can feel as though you are attacking me personally.

One way to avoid this kind of positional deadlock is to focus on “why” people need the things they say that they want:

If you want a high price off me there can be lots of different reasons why you need that. For example maybe getting that high price may make you feel that you have achieved something special;

or maybe it will make you feel reassured so that you can trust me;
or maybe it will make you feel respected;
perhaps it will make you feel that you and I belong in the same club;
or maybe you are just desperate and you need that high price in order to avoid going bust.

If I am able to work out why you “need” that high price than we can find another way of structuring the deal which meets that need but may not be about price. Suddenly we have far more options.

For example if you have a need for reassurance I might be able […]

By |August 16th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on Finding the key to open a Deadlocked Deal

How to Negotiate through Relationship Breakdown

Very often we have to negotiate in circumstances where a relationship has previously broken down, or breaks down during the negotiation process. This is not an easy scenario. Discussions against this backdrop may be marked by recriminations, mistrust, suspicion, mistaken presumptions about the attitude and motives of the other side, and a whole host of bad behaviours including sarcasm, contempt and aggression. This presents us with the question, how do you begin to repair a broken relationship?

Here are some options:

Recognise the problem:
Firstly, acknowledge the problem at hand rather than ignoring it. “We don’t seem to be getting on very well. What can we do to change that?”

Listen and offer an understanding:
Secondly, if you want to restore trust you then have to really listen to the other side. Active listening involves summarising and playing back to the other side feelings as well as information – “I can see you are very upset by that”…. One of best pieces of advice ever given to me as a negotiator was to “use your mouth and your ears in the proportions God gave you”. That means twice as much time should be spent listening in a negotiation as talking. This is particularly important when trust has gone astray. Listening also means acknowledging the validity of the other side’s feelings, “well, I can see why you are upset, looking at it from your point of view, even though I view it differently.”

Make positive changes:
Other tips include breaking the patterns of behaviour which have created the bad relationship. Change the venue where you usually meet. Change the make-up of the teams so as to introduce new players not affected by the same emotional baggage. If you never socialise […]

By |August 12th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on How to Negotiate through Relationship Breakdown

Understanding Your Bargaining Power In Negotiation

People frequently believe that they don’t have enough bargaining power in a negotiation and that the other side holds all the aces. This is very damaging, as if you don’t believe you have enough bargaining power you won’t bid ambitiously, and you may look and sound apprehensive. This encourages the other side to push you harder, and before you know where you are, the negative outcome you were fearing has happened.

It is normally a misconception that the other side has all the bargaining power since there are at least 10 sources of bargaining power and they are rarely arranged 10-nil in favour of anybody – you always have more aces than you think.

For example:

You may not be a big company but you may have “niche” marketing power – the power to command a particular desirable niche.

Your smaller size may make you more nimble or flexible than a bigger company.

Maybe you command a scarce resource even though you are small.

Maybe you are small but have worked out plenty of alternative options to this deal – that gives you a kind of market power too.

You may have expertise on your side or extra information – you often hear people saying that “information is power” – they are right.

You may have “authority” power – because you have seniority or reputation on your side, or even a uniform – the police rely on the power of their uniform to negotiate successfully with the public every day.

You may have “network power”. This is the power to plug into a network that can be marshalled in your support. If you have a big network that someone else wants access to that can be just as valuable as having […]

By |August 9th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on Understanding Your Bargaining Power In Negotiation