The Collaboration Effect TM enhances relationships, resources and revenues. It incorporates connecting relationships, actively listening, judiciously educating and negotiating closure. This article focuses on negotiating closure.
From the book Peaceful Resolutions chapter 10 focuses on the Art of Negotiation. The chapter focuses on dialogue between two or more people to reach a beneficial outcome. Given different interests in a negotiation, listening and adjusting as well as persuasion are explored. Social awareness is key as well psychological insight, emotional maturity, empathy, intuition, analytical ability and administrative ability.
There is so much more to say about a negotiation, but this article focuses on negotiating closure.
Frustration at not closing the deal
Sometimes after truly connecting relationships, actively listening and judiciously educating the other side it appears there will never be closure.
Sometimes it appears the discussion will go on forever.
For one reason or another the other side is reluctant to close a deal with you. At this point, it is a good idea to reflect on what has happened to date, what you have learned and what you might want to do for the future.
Strategies to overcome roadblocks
Negotiate the process and set benchmarks and deadlines
Having learned from this example, next time make sure you negotiate not only the issue at hand but the process with time frames.
Are their ground rules? What time frames are involved? Explore the issues and decide in what order they should be addressed. What are the pending results? If there is a breakdown in the negotiations how should we proceed? What are our alternatives with who, what, when, where, why and how?
Here is an example of a negotiation with a dozen identified issues. The parties agreed on the following process. The easiest first eight issues would be addressed in the first two days of a four-day negotiation. If an agreement could be made on these eight easier issues by the end of day two, then the four harder issues would be negotiated on days and 3 and 4. On the other hand, if there was no agreement on all eight of the easier issues after day two, the parties would agree to disagree on all 12 issues. If the issues were not agreed, the parties would proceed to binding arbitration.
Similarly, if they reached an agreement on the first eight easier issues, but there was no agreement by day four at 4:30 PM local time, only the last four issues would proceed to binding arbitration. This really caused the parties to focus with key people and succinct commentary. Both parties were convinced they could do better if they could solve this problem themselves, rather than having a third party make the decision for them. They were the experts and they truly wanted an agreement for not only this deal, but for potential future deals.
Unprincipled negotiators – a shutdown move
As outlined above there were specific benchmarks and deadlines. Not everyone plays fair and is principled. In some instances, one of the parties may throw out something to undermine the process. From the example above even though they agreed to the process one of the members of the negotiating team may decide they no longer are going to honor their commitment. For example, going forward with the first eight items that had already been agreed to after day 2 unless all 12 items were agreed.
When unprincipled negotiators enter the process, you have several choices. You can call off the process, continue despite the new road block, or negotiate a new process going forward. By preparing ahead for such an event such as this, you may already have some other ideas in mind.
Hard, soft and principled bargainers
Keep in mind those that may be hard bargainers or soft bargainers, but you should focus on being a principled bargainer. Soft bargainers may accept a deal initially, but really be irritated going forward. They may initially accept something unfair to simply have a deal, but resent the deal. Revenge may be forthcoming. Hard bargainers are bullying and often change the rules or act unethically. To them everything is about success by beating the other side. Principles bargainers look for opportunities for both sides. Rather than trying to have a larger piece of the pie, they look to make the pie bigger. When focusing on closing the deal, you may win the battle but lose the war as a soft or hard bargainer.
The principled bargainer finds ways to win collectively short term and long term.
A final word on those that don’t play fair
When the other party does not play fair:
Raise the issue explicitly
Question the tactic’s legitimacy
Negotiate over the tactic[i]
Take a break
Negotiations can be very hard emotionally, psychologically and physically.
A strategic break especially when something unexpected has been added to the mix may be a diplomatic and psychological way of addressing something like this.
A break gives you a chance to regroup and rethink your next steps.
You always have your BATNA
Remember that you always have your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA).
Your BATNA is your fall back position should you not be able to reach an agreement using The Collaboration Effect.
The Collaboration Effect works and it works well, but you can never push a rope. You can only pull a rope. If someone decides not to work with you, keep in mind that is up to them. You need to be able to accept this and move on. It is not about you.
Negotiating closure involves all four elements of The Collaboration Effect. This includes the other three of connecting relationships, actively listening and judiciously educating. Exploring mutual gains based on interests using a fair and external standard helps.
Being principled throughout a negotiation or collaboration assists in negotiating closure.
Focusing on the people and separating them from the problem. Place an emphasis on interests rather than positions. Generating options or alternatives together and having objective standards all help the parties focus on closure.
[i] Gregory, Michael A., Peaceful Resolutions: A 60 Step Illustrated Guide to the Art of Conflict Resolution, Birch Grove Publishing, Roseville, Minnesota, page 102.