Some people negotiate like an airstrike. They want to strike hard and fast to leave their enemy dazed and confused, believing their “opponent” will settle before they can figure out how to object or ask for more.
The shock and awe strategy can be effective; however, it is even more likely to backfire as the other side either shuts down and walks out, believing any intentions to settle are disingenuous, or they strike back taking the parties even further from middle ground.
It is much more tedious to carefully plan and think out a negotiation before making any moves, but after years as an attorney and CPA I know that the calm and collaborative approach is a proven way to get to yes. Here are the first three steps I take before going anywhere near the negotiation chamber.
This is the most often skipped step and is the most important. Negotiation is a whole host of variables on either side of an equation that must be balanced. Put pen to paper and list out everything that can be put into play. What do you want? What does the opposing side want? Once you have a full list, prioritize each variable. What do I absolutely need? What may I be willing to trade? (I will go more into what to do with this in a later post).
There is the old saying, “kill them with kindness,” and nothing could be closer to the truth. I have seen a lot of over confident negotiators walk into the room, start banging their fist on the table, and accomplish nothing. Every abrasive demand will seal the defenses tighter and every warm gesture will only make the conversation easier. Walk in, shake hands, and smile.
The natural tendency is to start listing off all the things that you want out of a negotiation. Flip the script and ask what the other party views as a positive result. “What do you want at the end of the day?” can go miles in establishing trust and sets the other party up to ask the exact same question of you. You may be surprised to find the other side wants something you can provide.
If you are the client and see your attorney cordial to the opposing party and his or her attorney, don’t perceive your attorney as weak or ineffective. Advocacy is not throwing punches for show. It’s about intelligent use of the facts, the law and negotiation skills. If you don’t understand your attorney’s style and strategy, talk it through so that you feel confident about your representation.
This Blog was written by Hunter Business Law Attorney Ajay Singh Profile
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