Negotiations play a large role in our work lives.
We interview for and land a job, buy and sell services, and resolve conflicts. But even as we do these again and again, they don't seem to become a lot easier. Here are a few thoughts that I hope you'll find useful:
Really. When you think about it, it implies a winner and a loser.
For some it implies a compromise between two people who both walk away somewhat dissatisfied. Words go a long way toward framing the context of a conversation. This isn't an issue of political correctness. It's an issue of creating the best atmosphere for both parties.
So, try using phrases such as "arrive at a workable solution," "come to an agreement," or "work out a plan together." All imply cooperation.
2. Put your "stuff" out there sooner rather than later.
Ok, so you gamesmen gameswomen weasels won't like this and might be thinking, "What a wuss!" That's OK because you're just wrong. I recently watched an executive who was about to be hired lose a $300,000 job (plus benefits, stock options, and bonuses) because she decided to keep tacking on "Oh, and..." items to the employment contract. It didn't work.
Every time you hold back a key point and then plop it down later, the other person is likely to consider your tactics--and you--deceptive. Is that what you think will get you what you want?
Start off by putting your list of issues on the table. Avoid creating doubt about you and your intentions.
3. Focus on the other person first.
Demonstrate that it's about "you two" and not about you. Build trust by asking the other person what their needs and wants are, then listen. Ask questions to be sure you understand. Then, work at figuring out how to help them get what they want. Experience and observation show that this will, more often than not, enable them to help you get what you want.
I'll bet you've found your own tweaks to the whole "negotiation" thing. Add your favorites in a comment below. When we collect enough for another list I'll make them into a post with, of course, the appropriate attribution.