While there are different styles relating to negotiation, the most desirable style relates to the win-win approach. This approach is based on a balanced give-and-take stance. Neither of the teams takes ah authoritarian or win- at-all-costs attitude.
Winning is important, but what is also important is the process of negotiation and keeping the other party satisfied. While every effort is made to carry out proper bargaining, nothing is done to offend the parties, and jeopardize the long-term relationship. Obviously, achieving this calls for significant level of maturity, understanding, patience and interactive skills on the part of both teams.
Negotiation is often referred to as the elusive art of negotiation. Since both parties have their minimum levels of expectations and do not easily yield their grounds, negotiations may not always proceed on the expected lines and may take more time than originally anticipated.
Thus the resourcefulness of the people concerned is put to test. Good negotiators should be adept at not only sticking to their positions, but also illuminate the benefits or advantages to the other team as well.
While the parties know that, as the Americans say, ‘There is no free lunch’, the question uppermost in their mind is ‘What is in it for me?’
Successful negotiation does not necessarily mean that all your expectations will be met at the end of the process. All the efforts and desirable approaches mentioned above, when followed, will only ensure that every proposal or demand will be considered pragmatically.
The more such consideration of proposals, better will be the chances of their being accepted. Hence, how well the negotiating team frames the proposal and articulates it is very important. Good teams therefore take care while framing their proposals and do so after much deliberation.
Experts and trainers underscore the efficacy of negotiation skills when they say:
“You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.”
We give below some noteworthy points and some strategies, which should be borne in mind in the context of negotiation.
1. Do not be an open book. Try to be enigmatic or not easy to read when required. Let not the other party read your mind or emotions easily. Keep them guessing till you finalize the terms.
2. At the same time, good negotiators make every effort to read and understand their opponents. They put probing questions and try to delve into their thoughts. They also use the informal occasions and breaks to get to know them better.
3. During discussions, certain topics may have to be kept confidential. This should not be done by telling deliberate lies. It would be better to make statements like ‘I cannot answer right now.’, ‘I have no comments at this juncture.’ or ‘I’d like to ascertain more details before responding.’
4. Refrain from discussing trivia or insignificant details. The process of negotiation involves time and money. What is discussed during the negotiations should be worth the time and efforts invested by the members of the negotiation committee. Remember that somebody has to foot the bill. It could be ‘you’.
5. Even in respect of negotiations where deliberations are meant to be confidential, somehow things leak out. Members should respect confidentiality and especially refrain from quoting individuals in fora outside.
6. Advise your team members to be discreet and restrained. Even if one person in a team makes a wrong statement or an unintended commitment, the other party will insist on that and try to take advantage of the situation. Every member should be careful and cautious before indicating any figure or level of commitment. Weigh your words.
7. Good teamwork, preparedness and the ability to visualize alternative scenarios are always helpful. They help in presenting logical thoughts, cohesive arguments and relevant evidence.
8. Ability to supplement facts and figures with appropriate examples, incidents, stories and analogies can be put to good use during negotiations. Stretch your communication skills and speak with presence of mind.
9. Good negotiation is undoubtedly good teamwork. Each member should play his or her role with proper understanding of the project. As far as possible, the team should discuss the knowledge and capabilities of each person in advance so as to ascertain how and when they should participate. During negotiations, members should supplement the efforts of their leaders and other members through appropriate interventions.
10. In practice, negotiating teams agree on certain pre-arranged signals. Accordingly, when the leader of the negotiating team lights up a cigarette or asks for warm water or cleans up his spectacles, in effect, he conveys a tacit message that only his group understands.
11. As we have seen elsewhere in this book, silence is a very powerful method of communication. Good negotiators use silence effectively. Silence confuses your opponents and makes your stand more enigmatic.
In prolonged negotiations, it is understood that the first one to blink loses out. Therefore, the power to hold on without yielding becomes essential.
In this context, it is worth noting that Japanese are known to be very good negotiators. They have tremendous ability to keep silent for long periods. At the same time, they listen very attentively.