Prepare for Your Next Negotiation

11 Steps to Prepare for Your Next Negotiation

Every negotiation starts somewhere. For the unprepared or uninitiated negotiations start when you encounter the other party at the metaphorical table. If you want to step up your negotiation game and reach more deals that make both sides better off you need to follow these 11 steps to prepare for your next negotiation.

Why prepare for negotiation?

Spending a little time getting ready for a negotiation enables you to consider what you want, what they want and how the deal might work. By gaming out potential challenges you won’t thrown off guard when a new piece of the deal reveals itself. By knowing what you need out of a deal you can avoid the pressure you may otherwise feel to either agree without considering the deal or asking for a break in negotiation that may take with it momentum leading towards a deal.

Negotiation can be stressful but when you prepare for you next negotiation, you can change that. Proper preparation can remove the fear out of negotiating even the biggest and most important deals. Read on to find out how you can prepare for your next negotiation.

How to Prepare for Your Next Negotiation

By following these 11 steps to prepare for your next negotiation you can substantially increase your readiness to participate in your next negotiation. The 8 steps to preparation are:

  1. Define the issues
  2. Define underlying interests
  3. Analyze the other party
  4. Project the other party’s issues
  5. Define other party’s interests
  6. Consider how interests impact each other and the parties
  7. Consult with others
  8. Set goals for the process
  9. Identify resistance points
  10. Develop supporting evidence
  11. Develop a plan

Step1: Defining Issues in Negotiation

As a mediator I’m often faced with parties who skipped this step. Normally parties come to a negotiation with an outcome in mind but forget to go to the effort of defining the issues. You should start by brainstorming the issues that are connected to a negotiation. At this point it is helpful to remember that defining your issues too narrowly can mean less room for a deal.

When planning you may find that you are faced with a single issue negotiation. In these cases, the trick is remaining open to discovering new issues as the process unfolds. Focus is fine but it should not deteriorate into single mindedness. The projecting of the other party’s interests in the negotiation become especially important in this case.

Typical Issues for Employers

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Impact on remaining employees
  • Justice

Typical Issues for Worker

  • Income
  • Benefits
  • Justice
  • Future employment
  • Pride

Typical Issues for Unions

  • Justice
  • Avoiding DFR claim
  • Meeting expectations
  • Member opinion

Step 2: Defining Underlying interests

Knowing what the issues are and knowing what the interests are are two different things. Issue refers to the thing being discussed, the what of the negotiation. Interests deal with the why of the negotiation. We may go into a negotiation looking for more money. Money then is the issue. Asking why you want the money is silly. Or is it? Money is an instrument to do other things.

In this interview with Steve Harvey, Steve reveals what he values about money: “From living in a car to this, I’m really just kinda running. Running from that three years I lived in a car.” For Steve, the value of money is security.

Compare that to This interview from Muhammad Ali:

“People are in this world, we love wealth.They respect people with money.” For Ali money meant respect.

In their seminal text Getting to Yes Fisher and Ury note that the most powerful of interests come down to basic human needs:

  • security
  • economic well-being
  • sense of belonging
  • recognition
  • control over one’s life

Understanding your underlying interests is important. As Uri and Fisher noted “The basic problem in a negotiation lies not in conflicting positions, but in the conflict between each side’s needs, desires, concerns, and fears.” Knowing your interest allows you to be open to good deals and closed to bad deals.

Step 3: Analyze the other party

At this step, turn your attention to the other party and your interaction with them. Start by gathering the information you have based on your past interaction. Think about the relationship and the deals that you have done with them in the past. Do you anticipate an interest based negotiation or something more power based? What do you know about strategic levers they have used in the past to move towards a deal?

If you have no history with them or if you are not familiar with the other party, it may be a good idea to do some open source research on them. Open source research (or Open source intelligence for those of us who read spy novels) is simply gathering public information. Publicly traded companies file all sorts of information, individuals post large portions of their life on the internet, and company news is announced on their website. It is a good idea to consider how much and what kind of data you need for the negotiations. For more information check out this video by Ntrepid an internet security firm that specializes in this sort of thing.

Understanding your other allows you to better forcast their issues and interests for the negotiation.

Step 4: Project the other party’s issues

It’s great That you have been through your own issues and interests and spent some time thinking about the other party or parties. Now you need to turn your mind to what the other people in the deal may want out of the deal. What do you think they are going to bring to the table? Are there any issues you think they may miss and that bear acceptable costs to you?

Step 5: Define other party’s interests

Once you identify the other party’s issues you should use the information gathered in step three in an attempt to determine their interest. Remember that the interests are what drives the issue it is your other’s why. having a guess at their interests allows you to plan your strategy.

Step 6: Consider how interests impact each other and the parties

Having a handle on your interests and their interests allows you to look at the whole picture and determine how the interesting issues may fit together to get the best deal. The key of this step is to take a wide view of what the potential consequences has any deal or no deal may be.

Step 7: Consult with others

Simple negotiations occasionally involve only two parties. Typically at least one of the negotiators is working on behalf of another person or entity. Managing internal and external constituencies is an essential role of a Negotiator. In Union negotiations, the negotiator has several letters levels of responsibility: They are responsible to the parent Union and its affiliated constituencies; they are responsible to the elected bargaining team; they are responsible to be elected local leadership; and they are responsible to the membership at large. When negotiations involve such wide-ranging constituencies talking to each of them about their interests early in the process is essential to building a sustainable deal as it can reveal new interests that must be included.

Consulting with other should be thought of as an ongoing activity throughout negotiations. when a deal is close to the resistance point of the Negotiator it is likely outside of what some members of a constituency would consider acceptable. accordingly those members may oppose the deal and attempt to build support for defeat.
Prepare for your next negotiation

Step 8: Set goals for the process

Once you are clear on your interests and the interest of your other, you should start to set goals for the negotiation process. The goal in every negotiation starts with working with the other party to get a result superior to what you could have achieved by yourself. If your Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement is better than your outcome through participation in the agreement, you should not do the deal. Goals for the process of negotiation may also include developing team members and getting a deal done in a certain timeline. During this phase you should also consider your negotiation costs and budget.

Step 9: Identify resistance points

A Resistance Point denotes a point after which you are going to resist the deal. It is not a point where a deal would make the negotiator (or client) happy; it is the boundary point where the deal would make the negotiator take and live with the deal. A resistance point should be set by considering how the position reflects your underlying interests. it is flexible and can change as value enters and leaves the table.

Step 10: Develop supporting evidence

The important part here is that you’re not developing a supporting argument you’re developing supporting evidence. That means you’re finding facts that helps support your other agreeing to your interest. In the case of a salary negotiation the facts that a competitor pays substantially more and a certain role it’s hard to recruit for is evidence that pay needs to be increased. You have already made the ask, Developing and using an argument often devolves into haggling. by being clear on the facts which are empirical and not debatable you can support you’re asked in a way that causes your other to consider it. this step requires you to consider information from all the previous steps to figure out what facts are relevant and how you can structure them to be persuasive to the other people involved in the deal.

Step 11: Develop a plan

By now you have considered the issues and interest of all the parties to a negotiation; you have consulted with others to build understanding and support; you’ve identified potential points of resistance after evaluating your BATNA; and you have developed evidence to support your position. Now you need to make a plan to pull it all together. Schedule tempo attendance participation and information flow are all decided based on the information gathered in the previous ten steps.

How all this information comes together to develop a plan is where the science of negotiation becomes an art. If your organization needs help putting your strategy together, please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information about negotiation consulting services.

This post on how to prepare for your next negotiation was inspired by the analysis process proposed in Lewicki, Hiam and Olander’s Think Before you Speak A Complete Guide to Strategic Negotiation.

Posted in Negotiation.


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