Prepare to Negotiate – Tips and a Worksheet


arm wrestle
(The Devil’s Advocate, 1997)

The quote from the movie, The Devil’s Advocate, sums it up perfectly. Whether we like it or not, in life we are negotiating more often than we think we are.

Negotiation skills is something that most people can improve upon. There are several training options available if you want to make this a developmental priority. And there are also a few training games which offer you the opportunity to test your negotiating skills in role-plays.

The resource that I am sharing is more generic and it helps you jot down some important notes before enter a negotiating process.

The worksheet, which you can download above, can help both experienced and new negotiators to organize their thoughts and prepare for a negotiation. Having your notes available during the negotiation discussions can help you maintain your focus and avoid distractions or knee-jerk reactions during crucial moments and stages of the discussion.

Uses:

  • Preparing for actual negotiations.
  • In training sessions to train participants on how to prepare and demonstrate the importance of this planning during a role-play later.
  • Prepare for discussion with supervisor/manager on salary increase.
  • Document your thinking going into a negotiation to support a post-negotiation lessons-learned reflection later which can help you and your team to continuously improve upon your past performances.

Cross-cultural Negotiations

When negotiating with someone who is from another cultural background than your own, remember that you will need to watch out for communicational disconnects based on having some of the following misaligment:

  • If the negotiating parties do not have the same first language and at least one party is negotiating in a non-native language there could be misunderstandings around the use of words of phrases. Use simple language and engage with translators if you want to avoid misunderstandings. .
  • Having different cultural views and perspectives, the relative importance of not only items negotiated but interaction with each other (from a relationship perspective) during the breaks or meals during days of negotiation could lead to unintended misunderstandings. Some actions or comments could even negatively impact the trust in the interpersonal relationship.
  • Depending on one’s view of the world, one tends to project your own views onto others as if everyone thinks and reasons like your would. That can lead to using methods of persuasion that would work in your own culture and it may be ineffective with others cultures. . Learn about the culture of key negotiators on the other side and learn what might persuade them vs only looking at your own experience and perspectives.
  • Establishing and maintaining trust can vary from one culture to another. Be slow to distrust the other party from another culture based on limited evidence of low-trust actions. Always engage with a cultural coach to help you correctly interpret the actions and communications from those from other cultures that you may be negotiating with.
  • Remember that negotiations are often not a one-time activity, but a business relationship that may span months or even years depending on how often roles changes at either party’s company. Take time to understand and get to know the other person or party that you often need to negotiate with. The more you know about the person and his or her preferences and views, the more successful your negotiations are likely to be.

Prepare by knowing a few key aspects about the other party

Checklist

Not all negotiations result in a definite outcome. In many cases discussions can take place over a long period of time. The better you are at understanding the other party and what her or she wants and values compared to your own needs and values, the better your chances would be to reach a win-win outcome for both yourself and the other party. And you will be able to leave the door open for successful future negotiations if you pay the right attention to the interpersonal relationship with the other party and not only to getting your own needs met in a win-lose way.

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