Negotiation Skills: The Small Things Will Get You Every Time
As a Negotiation Skills Keynote Speaker, one of my interests is listening to other negotiation skills keynote speakers from diverse fields, talking about their industries. We should never feel we are too old to learn.
With that in mind, not all that long ago, I was captivated by hearing Formula I racecar legend Mario Andretti talk about the business of racing. In a question-and-answer period, Andretti talked about how crews inspect the cars before the race. Racecars, of course, cost in the millions of dollars however, individual engine parts can be cheap. Without naming the part, he said there were five parts that are routinely inspected that cost no more than about 89 cents apiece.
One particular race the crew was rushed prior to the start time and only two of the five parts were examined. Sure enough, toward the end of the race, one of the parts failed and the contending car coasted to an embarrassing start. A multi-million-dollar car, in contention to win a huge race, failed because of a part you could buy for under a buck in an auto-parts store.
The parallels between the un-inspected parts of the Formula I racecar and many negotiations cannot be ignored. Negotiations also have many moving parts, and invariably most of the major points may get covered, then suddenly something goes awry that should have been addressed or planned for, and wasn’t.
There are numerous examples of these “small parts” and they might range from an incredibly insensitive joke (by the company “jokester”) to choosing a meeting venue that is inconvenient or has fallen “on hard times,” or being unwilling to be flexible as to a meeting time, or a failure to fully understand the processes or ingredients the other party uses in their production. It does not take much to sink a negotiation.
The frustrating part about the “smaller parts” is that with just a bit of research, or choosing negotiating members wisely or respecting the other team “as people” and not obstacles, the negotiation could have gone well.
Negotiations are not meant to be done “by the seat of the pants” or as an after-thought. They can be more casual than formal, that is true, no one is suggesting formal attire, however an informal negotiating meeting is not the same thing as an ill-planned meeting.
Who is Responsible for the Parts?
The failure of the racecar to finish the race eventually came down the fact that no one was accountable. Whether the responsibility was supposed to have been the domain of a single technician or a leader and several underlings, the end result was the same: no one inspected the parts.
The same holds true for negotiations. There must be a person assigned to lead the negotiation. Far too often, this individual is seen to be a CEO or president or vice-president of one department or another and it can be a tragic mistake. Who should lead the negotiation? The best person for the job – and, everyone else should report to that person from the smallest detail to the overall agenda.
In the end, the negotiation is a process where both sides can reach a fair and satisfactory agreement. Respect the process, down to the smallest parts, and everyone will benefit.
To contact Mike Hourigan, Keynote Speaker on Negotiation Skills for a virtual or in-person presentation, please call Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.