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.
Here is a handout on the eight-point negotiation process from that chapter. There is so much more to say about a negotiation, but let’s focus 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.
For various reasons 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. What are the ground rules? What time frames are involved. What issues, in what order and what are the pending results.
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 following harder issues would be negotiated on days and 3 and 4. If not the parties were prepared to return to their BATNA, which in this case could have been arbitration or litigation. Similarly, if there was no agreement by day four at 4:30 PM local time on all 12 issues, the deal was still on for the first eight, but not for the last four. This really caused the parties to focus with key people and succinct commentary.
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 of going forward with the first eight items that had already been agreed to after day 2 unless all 12 issues 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 or later they may reconsider and back out of the deal. Most likely they will not have a long-term relationship. 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 so that they have a greater win, but so does the other side.
When focusing on closing the deal, you may win the battle but lose the war as a soft or hard bargainer, but those that are principled find ways to win collectively both 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
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 including the other three of
Being principled throughout a negotiation or collaboration assists in negotiating closure. Focusing on the people and separating them from the problem with an emphasis on interests rather than positions, generating options or alternatives together and having objective standards all help the parties focus on closure.
About the author
Mike Gregory is an expert on conflict resolution business to business, business to government (IRS) and within businesses. Mike is an international speaker and he has written 11 books including Business Valuations and the IRS: Five Books in One, The Servant Manager and Peaceful Resolutions. Mike may be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (651) 633-5311. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]