Leadership Skills: Why it’s Important to be a Tough Negotiator

We all deserve to get our interests met. Period. If you don’t believe this, then don’t bother to read any further. Everyone needs this mindset to bargain tough with integrity.

You never need to outsmart, perform a balloon dance, or in any other way belittle either yourself or the other party to get the best deal for yourself.

You do have to take a clear stand for your interests and refuse to deviate unless your interests change. Notice I said “interest,” not “position.” More on that below.

We are told that negotiating is a dirty and distasteful dance. The most common view is that two or more parties (1) stake out false positions and then (2) attempt to tease out the other party’s true position, thus (3) securing an advantage.

This is one way to characterize tough distributive negotiation. (For an explanation of integrative versus distributive negotiation, see Why Integrative Negotiations Are More Successful.) But it’s not the only way to negotiate by any means.

To bargain tough from an integrative frame, follow these guidelines:

1. Seek clarity. One’s primary bargaining power comes from commitment to personal values and interests. Get clear about what you stand for, what value you provide, and what you want. Remember, we get exactly what we accept.

2. Prepare. For any specific negotiation, it’s important to assess one’s “whys” (interests or objectives) before jumping to one’s “how” or position. Addressing one’s interests (i.e.,
satisfying work, fair compensation) is the point of negotiation. Most interests can be satisfied from several different positions. In the heat of negotiation, remain mindful of and keep forwarding your interests. Don’t get stuck defending one position.

3. Research. When you do take a position, support it with objective criteria, independent of the will of either party. (The availability of information through the Internet is making all kinds of negotiating more interesting these days — especially purchasing expensive equipment and automobiles.)

4. Honor yourself and other. Concern yourself neither with beating nor taking care of the other party. Do demand to understand their true interests so you can effectively problem solve, and so you can honor the other party while seeking your interests.

The toughest negotiators are masters of their Leadership Gift. They discern and share their interests rapidly. Because they retain high regard for their interests, it’s easy for them to stand powerfully and matter-of-factly for what they want in any deal.

Sometimes they do business, sometimes they don’t. Nevertheless, they stay in rapport and can look forward to the next opportunity to work with the other party or parties.

Get Started With This Week’s 5-Minute Stretch

Think of the last time you felt ineffective in a negotiation and walked away feeling lost. (This is not about the other party. It doesn’t matter what he or she did!)

Ask yourself:

  1. What were your interests? Were you crystal clear about them at the time?
  2. What were you communicating? How do you know?
  3. What were you feeling?
  4. What might you have done differently to have been more effective?

I hope keeping these 4 questions in mind will help you during your next negotiation.

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

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 Collaboration, Leadership, Teamwork on 02/12/2013 01:26 am
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