The Four Skills You Must Have to Negotiate
In my role as a virtual negotiation skills keynote speaker, whenever I present a topic as a virtual negotiation skills training speaker in the area of virtual negotiation skills or soon (I hope) in-person negotiation skills training, I am frequently asked:
“Mike what is the most important negotiation skill that I need to bring with me to the meeting?”
Actually, there are four negotiation skills every negotiator should possess. Each person who enters into a negotiation, be they friendly, lukewarm or even unfriendly, may have a different negotiation style. Still there must be elements of all four negotiation skills in your repertoire. Let me briefly review them.
The Four Skills: People, Process, Preparation and Principles
Some people like to call them “The 4 Ps,” but I prefer to think of them as the pistons that drive my little SUV to the grocery. In a way, I think that these negotiation skills represent four pistons.
If you understand the basics of car mechanics, then you know that when one piston of a four-piston car breaks down, catastrophe follows. For the sake of our discussion, appreciate that when a cracked or seized piston happens, it results in lost power and efficiency.
If you come to the negotiating table lacking in a skill, your effectiveness as a negotiator is reduced and becomes inefficient. The outcome could mean anything from the loss of having a clear objective to being overwhelmed.
People: While I am certain your organization employs some really terrific people, some of whom may be your friends, that doesn’t mean they should join you in a virtual or face-to-face negotiation. In fact, “friendships” take a second-seat to expertise. When you bring a team with you to a negotiation, know fully well what their roles will be, what they are going to present, what qualities they have that you lack and most important, whether they have chemistry.
I have observed literally thousands of negotiations where friends bring friends and they sit there and crack inside jokes or roll their eyes; I have been in other negotiations where people talk over one another incessantly. I could go on, but the point is that all the players on a basketball team may not be best of friends off the court, but their chemistry on the court wins them championships.
Process: What are the specific elements of your negotiation plan, or (as all-too-frequently occurs) was your team expecting to “wing it?” Most importantly, was the process shared with the other side? What will be discussed and in what order? It must be remembered that for the most part, negotiations are intended to be cordial where both sides come away with something. What is the plan you intend to use in order to achieve a positive outcome? Think through an agenda, share it, know who will present and what they will present. What are you prepared to give up, what are you wanting to accomplish, and does everyone understand the power of compromise?
Preparation: We practice our golf swings, our awards ceremony acceptance speeches and our yodeling (if we like to yodel), so why wouldn’t we bring the team together and prepare for an important negotiation? Without preparation, teams often descend into an after-the-fact regret of “Why didn’t we say that?” or “Why did we say that?” It is impossible to have too much preparation. While it is impossible to foresee everything, make every effort to prepare for possibilities.
Principles: I cannot stress this enough: we can negotiate price or service, delivery times or any other value attached to the object of our negotiations. But never sacrifice your core values or erode your belief system. There are indeed times to leave the table, and the departure is almost always tied to a compromising of principles.
Any negotiation can be a positive and empowering experience or it can turn into a nightmarish bag of misgivings. As a negotiation skills speaker I can assure you that you can be an effective negotiator. It is not the domain of the rich and powerful, but of those who remember the “Four Ps.”
To book Mike Hourigan, virtual and in-person negotiation skills motivational speaker, contact Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.