Negotiations: Some Advanced Techniques

The following techniques are used by serious and expert negotiators. Watch for them when negotiating. When they appear, know immediately that you are negotiating with an expert. Over time, you will find them becoming more and more a part of your negotiating style.

• When you have gotten most of what you wanted while remaining within your negotiating limits, stop negotiating.

You will almost always get about 80 percent of what you want; and trying to get the other 20 percent frequently jeopardizes the 80 percent you have already gotten. It may not be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but it is more than adequate for the good life.

• Never argue.

Remember, you are a negotiator and arguing only lets the other person know that you are not a first-class negotiator. Argue if you must; but understand that arguing is never an appropriate substitute for negotiating.

• If you can avoid it, never let the negotiations reduce to a single issue.

Avoid letting negotiations reduce to a single condition either on your list or mine. If necessary, reintroduce a condition that seems to have already been resolved. Why? If there is only one issue, then it quickly becomes a simple yes or no decision. In this case, there is no further room for negotiating; and a box has been created. One of us has to decide yes or no. It becomes a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition. If things get to this point, we are no longer negotiating. Keep enough issues ‘on the table’ to assure that there is always negotiating content or ‘grist for the mill,’ as they say.

• Remember that people do not want the same things.

You know someone is running a game on you if he/she says, ‘After all, we want the same thing.’ This is virtually never true. You want to actualize your interest and I want to actualize mine. We may have some shared or common interest; but we will also have some interest that are not shared. As a skilled negotiator, you will recognize and acknowledge both our shared interests and those interests we hold as individuals.

• Understand and mention my needs, problems, and interests.

When you do this, though, do not state them as facts. Say instead, ‘If I understand, you have a problem (need/interest) that I understand in this way…’ Once you have mentioned the problem as you understand it, ask me, ‘Does it seem to you like I understand or do we need to talk about this some more so I better understand?’ Always convey a sense to me that I, my problems, my needs, and my interests are important to you and are being taken seriously by you.

• Always keep your focus on task – on the negotiations.

Never shift focus to me or to personalities. Even when you are talking with me about your perceptions of my problems, needs, and interests, do so in ways that are related to our negotiations – to the transfer conditions.

•Focus on-task with flexibility.

If my style is to let the conversation drift, socialize, talk about other things, or to move away from task, ‘go with the flow.’ Always be personable, friendly, and interested. At the same time, though, look for opportunities to return to task gently, tactfully, and without becoming forceful or pushy.

• Be willing to walk.

Never get into a position where you are not willing to walk, terminate the negotiations. If I ever get the impression that you will hang in there no matter what, you are totally at my mercy. At a minimum, I will probably be able to get you to give me more than you really wanted to give. Also, I will simply ‘dig in’ and give no more than I have already offered. In fact, if I really believe that you will not walk, you may find me actually reducing my offer. Simply remember that, if you ever reach a point where you are unwilling to walk, the negotiations are over. The outcome is totally under my control.

•You are horse trading.

Remember that 80 percent of the movement will occur during the final 20 percent of the process. Here we are talking about an old horse trading principle. Always save a little of your consideration for the final moments of the negotiating process. Do not run out of negotiating room until you get to the end of the negotiating process. Always have a couple of options left for horse trading. Another benefit is that I will leave the negotiation feeling that I got the last concession. That will make me feel a little smug and feel as if I am the superior negotiator. Among other things, this will probably lead to my underestimating you the next time we negotiate.

• Don’t become impatient.

The person with whom you are negotiating will gradually get a little frustrated and will want to move the process along. He/she will probably be impatient with only 20 percent of the progress being made during the first 80 percent of the available time. Here, the key is to relax, be patient, and simply out wait the other person. There is a strong likelihood that he/she will make an additional offer, increase his/her consideration, or do something else to move the process along. Just by being more patient and waiting, you have gotten more of what you wanted.

So far, I have tried to maintain a proper level of objectivity and style. Since we have come to the end of this article, though, I thought that you might like to know about one additional game that may not quite maintain the professional demeanor that has been present to this point. This has been designated as ‘The Call Girl Principle.’ The principle says that the value of a service declines in direct proportion to the amount of time it has been since you have received the service. Of course, this is why the call girl always wants to be paid in advance. Good negotiators always make sure that there are definite arrangements made for how much they are going to receive and when they are going to receive it. Whenever possible, they receive it in advance. ‘You do what you are going to do for me and then I will do what I am going to do for you.’ By this point, though, you will undoubtedly be able to go the call girl principle one better. Try it when you and your spouse are in the lover’s dimension of your marriage. What is this advanced principle called? You guessed it – simultaneous sex. As with many things in life, it is usually better to do it together than to take turns.