Know these Three Points for Complex Negotiations

Having read the recent article “For Paris Climate Accord, April 22 Marks Moment in Truth in International negotiation, implementation can be more difficult than reaching agreement,” from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard, I was struck by the three key points and some of the current ramifications.   With 55 countries, various political issues in these countries including the U.S. Supreme Court handing down a decision that runs contrary to what the Obama administration committed to at the Paris Climate Accord, now what?

First, to improve the odds of success it is necessary to build a quality relationship by meeting regularly to discuss areas of concern and explore opportunities together.  In the west we tend to move very quickly to the task at hand.  This is efficient.  Most of the time this is what is called for and it works.  In complex negotiations this first step is probably the most important step.  Research your counterparts on social media.  Reach out to others.  Seek to understand the culture, background and influencers on the other party.  Set the stage for success at every turn considering all five senses (taste, smell, hearing, sight and touch).   Have antioxidant foods.  Have a pleasant aroma or none at all.  Ensure no interruptions with outside sounds or influences.   Ensure a pleasant atmosphere conducive to a negotiation.  Include pleasant furniture and other items that will come in physical contact with the parties that are culturally appropriate.

Second, from the beginning the author encourages a focus on long term thinking.  Not next week, not the month, not the next quarter, but over the true long term.   Begin with the end in mind.  Where do you want this to go long term?  What will it take for us to get there?   By focusing on the long term before the negotiation begins this will enable you to potentially make some concessions now that in the long term may be very beneficial.

Finally and I think most importantly:

“3. Improve the odds of follow-through. Negotiators are easily swayed by glitzy presentations, rock-bottom bids, and optimistic timelines. Rather than taking the other side’s promises for granted, ask probing questions and investigate their ability to follow through. In addition, when setting your negotiation agenda, consider adding a clause that mandates renegotiation, mediation, or arbitration in the event of unforeseen circumstances or conflict. Finally, publicize the results of your deal. Both sides may work harder if your reputations would be damaged by a failed partnership.”

Take this third point to heart.   Who will do what by when?  Make sure you know when you leave a meeting or call and if you don’t ask.  Hold others accountable.  Whether at work, volunteering or at home this simple mantra goes a long way towards avoiding many complexities later.   Be sure and stay on top of this question and follow up regularly exploring concerns and being there to help. Ensure that higher ups know this too.  A thank you note to the other side’s boss on what we agreed to and for appreciation of the other side’s negotiator implies not only appreciation, but a way of ensuring a “publication of the results” at the next level of management.  Be creative.

Mike is former IRS Territory Manager that provides services based on his 28 years at the IRS and nearly five years in the private sector.  When not blogging or tweeting, Mike assists clients with conflict resolution as a solution provider, and is an avid writer, speaker and educator.  When not working Mike enjoys family, church, volunteering and daily yoga with exercise.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]