“Without trust, the factor of truth becomes inconsistent.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)
“Trust Is The Most Important Factor In A Negotiation”
People don’t realize; they’re always negotiating.
As the negotiation began, it was open and respectful. The two negotiators engaged with the honest intent of reaching an outcome that both parties could embrace. In part, the interaction was calm because the two negotiators were friends, and they had a high degree of trust for one another. Little did they know, within two weeks, their deal would unravel. It would be due to a factor that would strain the negotiator’s friendship going forward. And it would raise doubts about how they could trust one another in the future. The factor that threatened their future relationship was born out of a third party’s actions. Someone that wasn’t involved in the initial negotiation. The following is how you can protect yourself from having this happen to you.
When capturing the covenant of a negotiated agreement, do it as close to the party’s settlement as possible. Even if best of friends say, “we can do this deal on a handshake,” memorialize it. At best, you’ll have an audit trail of the agreed outcome. At worse, the documentation can serve as a guide to reinitiate negotiations.
In either case, no matter with whom you negotiate, document the understanding of what the parties are to do next. The document will be your roadmap. It can also be a factor that provides insights to draw upon for your future negotiations with others.
Consider How Your Deal Might Unravel
Question – when do you have a problem? Answer – at the problem’s inception. Question – when does a problem’s inception occur? Answer – when you’re made aware of it.
One moment, you have a deal, and then the next moment you don’t. The best deals can fall apart when it’s time to produce the results of the agreement. And agreements are most vulnerable between the period of understanding the deliverables and delivering them. And, many factors can play a role in disrupting what the negotiators agreed upon as an outcome. Factors such as trust can wreak havoc on a negotiated transaction (i.e., I wonder if the other negotiator will deliver what we agreed, third parties, etc.)
To guard your deal against unraveling, don’t become complacent while waiting for the deliverable of the agreement to occur. If you do, you may find yourself waiting for a disaster. Be proactive by reaching out to the other party. Ask if everything is on schedule. And question if there are any negative occurrences on the horizon that might affect the deal, etc.. What you’re seeking are signs that the deal might be coming apart.
Some negotiators think you run the risk of inviting the other party to renegotiate the deal when you ask if it is still on target. But, if the agreement is in the process of failing, you’re already in a renegotiation state. You’re just not aware of it.
Don’t wait for a problem to come to you. Go to it and address it on your terms. You’ll have more leverage in doing so because you’ll have greater control of it at that time.
Sounds of Broken Trust
If you listen intently when a negotiator speaks, you can hear the sounds he makes as he’s breaking trust. Those sounds will be in the form of the words he uses to explain why he can no longer commit to the deal. He may say things like, “I didn’t remember agreeing to that. Or, I thought you meant something else.” Regardless of the excuse, the documented agreement can serve as a refresher of what the two of you agreed.
In the situation mentioned in the opening, the third party that injected himself into the negotiation stated that the negotiator whose side he was on didn’t recall agreeing to the covenants that were specified. With that, he pushed the talks back to the two friends. That maneuver created angst in the partner of the third party.
The person negotiating without a partner noticed the quickness with which the third party wanted to conclude the conversation with him. And that set off a silent alarm. At that point, the lone negotiator suspected his friend would be breaking the trust they’d established about their agreement. That was confirmed when his friend offered a new deal. When asked what occurred with the prior arrangement, the response was a jumble of apologies. The lone negotiator’s regret was, he wished he’d recognized the sounds of broken trust sooner. That would have given him more time to salvage a deal that had already gone astray.
The Price of Broken Trust
No matter your environment, be it in a negotiation or a friendly exchange of information, when there’s a trust void, caution is at hand. And when people are cautious, they’re more measured with their thoughts and actions. Plus, broken trust can belabor a future negotiation due to the negotiators wondering when the other might break trust again. Accordingly, they’ll make offers and counteroffers tenuously, which will hinder the pace of the negotiation.
Always be aware that there’s a cost when you abandon trust. The best way to address that mindfulness is to heighten your awareness about what you agree to, and being willing to live with your agreement. Trust is a precious commodity. And thus, it something to be cherished.
The two friends renegotiated a new deal because the lone negotiator wanted his friend to experience the win he was seeking. But what the third party and the other negotiator didn’t realize was the lone negotiator had a factor that would test their trust in the future. He thought a win is a win until it’s no longer a win. And since he knew that you’re always negotiating, he planned to reopen the negotiation in six months. You see, when trust is orphaned, it can become adopted by the person that embraces it, which enhances that person’s appeal. And everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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