How to Manage Satisfaction with Your Counterpart in a Negotiation

In a negotiation one of the keys to a successful negotiation is managing your counterpart’s expectations.  We would all like to have a win – win negotiation, but part of that is managing your counterpart’s expectations.   In the end what were their expectations of the outcome?  What happens when they shared their results with others?  How was the overall experience with you and the negotiation?  This article will discuss each of these items. Perceptions matter, not just the results.

Each party enters into a negotiation with a pre-c conceived perspective on how it may turn out, and what may be offered at the outset.  It is important to manage expectations from the very beginning.  This may happen well before the meeting by making statements like, “we are under really tough price pressures”, “this has been a tough year for us”, “we only have a very slim profit margin on this line”, “time is of the essence if we are to close on this deal, we have two other parties that want to move now too”, or some such similar commentary. See how by introducing a concept ahead of the negotiation, this helps set the stage for the negotiation?

Timing can be critical.  If the meeting is set up for two hours and upon the very first offer in the first five minutes you accept it, this may cause the other party to wonder if what they offered was too low.  Besides the price, what is that may be missing?  Did we miss something relate to quality, delivery, time frames or something else? Perhaps they should have offered something higher?  They may begin to reflect negatively on what they offered and wished they had offered something higher.

When presenting a counteroffer, give the counteroffer serious thought and discuss how it may be received by the other party.  Making a very small concession may be perceived negatively.  On the other hand making a very large concession may be perceived as your willingness to make additional large concessions.   It all depends on the negotiation and the participants involved.  Stop and consider the magnitude and the percentage of the offer in light of how it may be perceived by the other party.

After a negotiation the other party may begin to compare the results of the negotiation with others.  The comparisons may not be pretty, when the other party realizes you made a much better deal with a third party. Working with three different parties I was involved with final agreements with all three. Each was a competitor with the other. The three were together at a bar and each of the parties grossly exaggerated how well they had negotiated with us.   I knew the results of all three entities. One of the parties called me on this.  I listened to what he had indicated the results were in all three instances. All I could say was that I could not say what the results were with the other two, but I could confirm with him that the results presented to him were significantly inflated.  Each wanted to present that they had a much better deal with us than they had. Each case has slightly different facts, but in the end my employer had operated with integrity and fairness to all three parties. This needed to be clarified. 

Finally, the process needs to be perceived as fair not just the outcome.   By explaining the why along the way of the negotiation and by being as transparent as possible, it is much more likely the other side will perceive the process as being fair.  This is conducive to collaboration and addressing the perspectives and interests of both sides.  Keep each of these points in mind when considering how to manage satisfaction with your counterpart in a negotiation.

B y taking steps such as those offered in this article it is possible not only to have a successful negotiation, but to also have a perception of a fair and equitable process that will ensure satisfaction beyond the negotiated settlement.

Contact Mike Gregory to speak to your group of consult with you, and check out his website, books and very helpful content on the right side of the About page. Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA, MBA and a Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court, is an international speaker that helps others resolve conflict, promote collaboration,  negotiate winning solutions and inspire leaders. Mike services clients business to IRS, business to business and within businesses.  Mike may be contacted directly at mg@mikegreg.com or at (651) 633-5311.