Negotiation is a daily activity of most managers, almost irrespective of the size of the organisation, and the industry it sits in. On many occasions, a conversation may not be seen as negotiation, as it lacks the adversarial background that highlights a negotiation in progress, but if the conversation has an objective, it has in its nature some elements of a negotiation.

    This was highlighted recently in a conversation with a client preparing for a friendly merger, where the outcome had been agreed in principal, all that was left was the “how to” bits, so below is a list I developed for that conversation, in no particular order.

  1. Any conversation that seeks an arrangement where both parties believe they have done better than their “walk away” point is a negotiation, recognise it when it happens.
  2. Failure to neglect or understand the other sides priorities and what drives them to participate in a conversation that is really a negotiation is a fundamental one.
  3. Do not let price hide the other factors that contribute to a successful outcome, particularly the emotional and psychological ingredients.¬† A negotiation is a “climax” moment in a relationship, if there has been no work on the relationship, it follows that the climax will be sub-optimal.
  4. Allowing established positions to get in the way of sensible and creative compromise that serves the best interests of both parties  is a common mistake.
  5. Early in the process of determining the nature of the negotiation, establish your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement)
  6. Processing information that emerges during a negotiation purely from the perspective of your inherent bias can prove to be fatal to achieving any outcome.