Sometimes? Then you will benefit from listening to Margaret Neale, professor of management at Stanford, explaining the pros and cons of negotiations:
Looking upon negotiating as a fight to get what our counterparts don’t want to give us is unfortunately common. If we at the same time don’t want to give away anything to them we are in a fight even though the majority of negotiations are not battles. However that kind of mindset is not ideal when negotiating. It puts the people we negotiate with in a defensive mood and makes it less likely that we succeed.
Fluency is the name of the game
A much more beneficial approach is fluency i.e. ask yourself what you want to achieve. And what strategies and tactics will be beneficial to reach that outcome. By doing so you allow collaborative problem solving that benefits both parties i.e. make you both better off than your current status quo.
Don’t forget that there is no command and control in negotiations because your counterpart has to willingly agree. If not, you will not reach an agreement.
The importance of listening
Many times people are so caught up in what they want to achieve for themselves that they forget to listen to what the other party is saying. You can’t just tell them what to do but understand what motivates them and what their interest are. So we need to estimate the answers to those questions. Needless to say it’s best if we try to figure that out before we start negotiating.
Preparations often the key
The difference between successful and unsuccessful negotiators often comes down to how prepared you are, which is a factor that you can actually control. However, according to Margaret, most negotiators are not prepared because they are confident they can just flow with it and handle whatever comes up. Why? Again it comes down to the fatal approach of battling to not let their counterpart have whatever it is that they want and to get whatever it is they don’t want you to have. That’s a not the way of succeeding in negotiations. Instead start contemplating creative proposals to open up new solutions that neither one of you could have implemented.
Do you regard negotiations as a battle to get everything and give away nothing? Or are you of the opinion that an outcome that is of mutual benefit is the best approach? Are you prepared before you start negotiating? Do you actively try to put yourself in your counterparts shoes to understand what they aim for and what motivates them? Do you listen to what they have to say to facilitate a mutually beneficial agreement? Or maybe you are of the opinion that you can handle whatever comes up in a negotiation and just go with the flow? Are you good at coming up with creative proposals that open up new solutions that enable success?