Team Harmony and Unity NegotiationWe all negotiate as a team sometimes. This is when negotiations can go spectacularly wrong, with in-fighting and disunity causing chaos. Sometimes members of the team will deliberately starve other members of information or involvement. Sometimes they may even be more preoccupied with making a colleague look bad then getting the right result for the team.

There are a couple of tips for avoiding this;

1. Come prepared

First of all, preparation is even more important in team negotiations than in other types of negotiation. If the team is not prepared it is uncanny how the other side will gravitate towards the least prepared member in order to exploit the resulting lack of organisation. In this sense “the team” includes everybody on your side who has a stake in the outcome and not just those doing the negotiation directly – so make sure you involve everybody: stakeholders who feel left out may sabotage the deal later if they feel aggrieved.

That preparation must include:

  • All the usual elements of agreeing timing, roles, agenda, approach, risks and also agreeing a bottom line.
  • Making sure that all participants are aligned behind the team’s negotiating objectives. If someone doesn’t believe in the team position than the other side will sniff them out and exploit the gap. If someone is not aligned then don’t parade them in front of the other side – they should stay out of the face to face negotiation and their objections can be dealt with behind the scenes.

If, despite this preparation, disunity breaks out in a meeting with the other side, call a break immediately and deal with the problem internally. There is nothing worse than conveying disagreement amongst yourselves to the other side. It looks weak and they will be cock-a-hoop.

2. Concessions

The other aspect of team negotiations is to make sure that only one member of the team is authorised to give concessions. This stops the other side going from person to person until they get the answer they want to hear. If only one person can concede the point then everyone else on the team can channel requests for concessions back to that person, so that concessions can be given in an orderly way in return for things that all the team thinks are important.

Use these tips to avoid obvious blunders and you can then happily rely on the strength of team negotiation – the fact that it gives you the opportunity to bring together people of different expertise and different behavioural strengths so as to maximise your options in the negotiation.