To Negotiate Successfully Differentiate Between the Ideal and the Possible

During negotiations, some negotiators may agree to disagree on a point(s). If you think about it, that’s really an oxymoron. If you ponder that thought, you’ll realize that in agreeing to disagree, they’re really agreeing. Of course, they’re still at odds on the point upon which they’re agreeing to disagree, but therein lies the opportunity upon which they can build further agreement. In essence, a good negotiator will seize upon the hidden fact that agreement is occurring, on some level, and build from there.

As an example, if you sense that a point of contention in a negotiation is causing angst in the other negotiator, try to uncover the cause of such consternation. If you can’t ferret out the cause, and it’s one of importance, put it aside and continue negotiating.

(Note: As a strategy, if the point is not terribly important to you, consider putting it aside with the intent of conceding on it later; later in the negotiation, you can use that point as a bargaining chip.)

After you’ve gained agreement on other points, question why the ‘parked’ point of contention cannot have a positive resolution. Do so from a point of sincerity. At that time, if there’s still no resolution and the negotiation stalls, pay attention to the following factors.

  1. What role ‘time’ plays in the overall outcome of the negotiation, as it relates to the point of contention
    1. Are there imposed time constraints? To the degree the other negotiator places such constraints upon himself, your position is strengthened.
  2. Observe the maneuverings that occur in the other negotiator’s camp.
    1. Take note as to whether he’s actively seeking a resolution to the negotiation through other sources, to seek an outcome other than the one you’re proposing. In so doing, assess his probability of success in securing another resource in the timeframe he’s placed upon himself.
    2. Appraise the level of frustration the other negotiator is experiencing, as the result of not being able to conclude the negotiation in which he’s engaged with you. If you sense a high level of anxiety on his part, reiterate your solution as a way to alleviate his anxiety. Remember, ‘no’ only means no for the moment. Everything changes.
  3. Seek other sources and resources that can be brought to bear on the situation that might assist the negotiation towards reaching a favorable outcome. Don’t forget, ‘favorable’ is perceptive.

When you negotiate, if you can differentiate between the ideal outcome and if that’s not obtainable, than an outcome that is possible, you will have found a way to extinguish the darkness that prevents the negotiation from coming to a successful conclusion. Don’t give up on the negotiation just because a point of contention appears to be insurmountable. It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

If you light the candle that illuminates the insurmountable at the appropriate time, you’ll uncover that which is causing the negotiation to linger. The darkness will subside. The negotiation will proceed towards a more favorable outcome  … and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are …

  • When negotiating, always keep your mind sharp. Try to observe that which is not seen or said, while simultaneously pursuing the path that leads to a successful negotiation outcome.
  • Sometimes, you have to distinguish between the perfect outcome and that which is possible when negotiating. The ‘perfect’ may not be obtainable, due to unknown or undisclosed reasons. If that’s the case, uncover the ‘possible’ and let that be where you place your emphasis.
  • When negotiating, if you can’t uncover the reason that prevents the negotiation from concluding successfully, don’t ponder too long in the darkness of uncertainty. Don’t be afraid of alienating the other negotiator by probing different strategic perspectives, in order to uncover what is preventing the negotiation from succeeding.
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