Closure is not an add on at the end. Instead to have a successful closure, begin with the end in mind. What must you do to negotiate closure in a negotiation? The time to focus on closing the negotiation is from the very beginning. That is the focus of this article. Negotiating closure involves the process, milestones, dealing with negatives, taking a break, working with trusted partners and making sure you have the right people to work towards closure from the beginning.
It is important to negotiate the process from the very beginning.
What are the facts, the issues, the emotion tied to the issues and the interests of both parties? How can this be determined? What will be the ground rules? Work with the parties to address these. Who will be the facilitator? What issues will you discuss and why? When will they be discussed? When these items are mapped out front, this enhances the possibilities for success. By exploring these and similar questions from the beginning you will significantly enhance your chances for success.
It is important to have time frames associated with a negotiation.
This includes interim milestones to ensure the process has expectations along the way as well as an ending time. Often the most serious elements of a negotiation occur near the end of a negotiation. However, by having interim milestones. This can help ensure timeliness overall.
As an example, on a negotiation between two parties where I served as a mediator there were 12 issues. The time frame agreed to by the parties was to address 8 easier issues in the first two days. If these could be agreed the parties agreed to address the harder 4 issues in the last two days. This was the process agreed to by the parties, and it was the process the parties followed to reach their agreement on all 12 issues. There definitely were some starts and stops along the way, but having negotiated this process and having the interim milestone really helped the overall process.
Dealing with unexpected event or negatives
Sometimes unexpected events or a negative person may negatively impact the process.
Sometimes you have to work with individuals that are a poison pill to the negotiation or a very difficult party.
You still have to deal with difficult people. There are positive and proactive steps you can take to collaborate with difficult people. There are many ideas on how to get along with difficult people. When preparing for a negotiation with a difficult person there are proactive steps you can take to minimize the negative. Sometimes a private conversation with other members of your team and possibly a side bar with a leader of the other team may be options worth considering. With all of these ideas remember it’s not about me. If the other person really does not want to work with you, accept this and move on.
Say you were in a negotiation with one party and another third party wanted to present you with an offer. You may want to postpone this discussion or take a time out to address the third party. Keep in mind the issue with the third party may be monetary or non-monetary. It is generally best to explore various options to expand horizons, consider the impacts and evaluate the impacts to expand decision making.
Taking a break
During a negotiation if the negotiation starts to become intense take a break. There may be something you don’t know about that could be impacting the other side.
You may ask to take a longer break, not just a short break, but actually a break of a week or so to let things calm down and give each side a chance to reflect on the process and where they are at.
You may even discover other intangibles that you may want to offer the other party that you may not have thought about in the heat of the moment. Upon reflection, these might be just what the other party was looking for from you. You may also want to initiate discussions with a third stakeholder during the break.
Make sure to leave time for plenty of fluids, food and restroom breaks. During these short breaks you can focus on connecting relationships and building trust between participants. These informal interactions can go a log way towards building trust and connecting with members of the other side.
Working with trusted partners
Sometimes bringing in a third party can be very constructive.
In this case the third party could be a trusted friend or associate. In this instance a trusted third party could help facilitate the process between both parties. If the third party is someone both parties this trust this can be even better.
Sometimes the third party could actually be a mediator that has a background in the area.
A neutral third party could focus directly on the issue at hand and facilitate the process. Another type of mediation is transformative in nature. In this instance the mediator is there to help the parties work to transform their relationship regardless of whether the issue is resolved. Finally, there is evaluative mediation where the mediator is there to provide insight legally of what may happen should the parties not agree. If a mediator is being considered, make sure both parties understand whether the mediator is facilitative (focused on the issue), transformative or evaluative.
Have the right people involved
It is important to have a decision maker there from both sides.
That is someone that can actually make the decision. If not, the entire negotiation may be a waste of time.
Sometimes bringing on board a fresh face with a different perspective can help.
Having someone that is not part of the historical process may prove very helpful. That person would likely not have the same emotional baggage as the rest of the team. That person would not have been exposed to the same events. If that is the case, the fresh face may offer additional insights giving the negotiation a fresh perspective.
We look for food, water, sex and shelter. Having a good-looking person as part of your team never hurts. Note this is not gender specific. Rather just the simple fact of having a good-looking person as part of your negotiating team can help psychologically with interpersonal interactions with the other side.
For a better closure in a negotiation with another party, consider negotiating the agenda and process up front. Setting benchmarks, milestones and deadlines helps parties focus. Be prepared to deal with shut down moves, changes and possible negative participants. Take appropriate breaks, keep hydrated, have appropriate foods and snacks, and leave time for restroom breaks. Work with trusted partners. Sometimes bringing on new third parties on either side who can help take a fresh look can make a big difference. Keep in mind that you can do everything right and, in the end, it may not work out. Realize it’s not about me. Sometimes the other party may simply not want to work with you. You may simply need to accept that.
About the author
Mike Gregory is an expert on conflict resolution business to government (IRS), business to business, 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]