Leadership Skills: The Best Negotiators Bargain Tough

Successful negotiators all bargain tough.

“Integrative” negotiators’ toughness comes from the intense desire to satisfy interests.
However, “distributive” negotiators manipulate to get the upper hand.

(See Leadership Skills: Why You Want to Be an Integrative Negotiator for descriptions of distributive versus integrative approaches to negotiation.)

Recognize these manipulative ploys so you can swim with these sharks anytime you choose.

Plausible deniability is one common ploy:

Them: You are asking $10,000 — will you take $9,000?
You: Okay.
Them: How about $8,000?

You let them set you up with ambiguity. Is it an offer or a question? Here’s a better
response when you smell plausible deniability:

Them: Will you take $9,000?
You: Are you offering $9,000?

You call them on their ploy and switch the hot seat from you to them (yes, you can respond to a distributive tactic with an integrative move).

“Limited authority” is another common distributive ploy in which the other person must consult an inaccessible-to-you third party. You may think this is just a used car sales trick, but the business world is loaded with limited authority.

But, you ask, is limited authority in corporations necessarily a distributive ploy? Great question, since integrative and distributive negotiation can appear similar.

Here’s how you know: How does it feel? Does it feel like a set-up to give them the upper hand over you? If so, then it could be a distributive ploy.

Remember, when your own integrity and the relationship are important, you will get better outcomes by bargaining tough from an integrative approach.

Here’s how:

1. Seek clarity first. Your power comes from your unwavering commitment to your values and interests, so get clear about what you stand for, deserve, and want. This is the most important work! Consider yourself your most important sale. When you are clear, being tough is easy (think about Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus).

2. Focus on interests rather than positions. Most interests can be satisfied from several different positions. In the heat of a negotiation, remain mindful of and keep forwarding your interests. Don’t get stuck defending one position.

3. Honor self and other. Concern yourself with satisfying an array of interests, rather than with beating the other. Do demand that the other person clarify his or her interests so you can honor them while seeking your interests.

The toughest integrative negotiators are always powerfully aligned with human values of truth and dignity. They go after what they want without attempting to manipulate others.

Sometimes they do business, sometimes not. Nevertheless, they stay in rapport and can
look forward to the next opportunity to work together.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Practice Tip

Think of a current negotiation. Write down your interests and the interests of the other person you are committed to satisfying.
Quotable: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
~ John F. Kennedy

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Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Leadership on 01/23/2014 06:55 am
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