This four-part negotiation guide isn’t just for people in business or sales. Whether you realize it or not, you can apply basic rules of negotiation and negotiation tips to help you and others successfully pass through what could otherwise be challenging but critical conversations regarding home life, career, personal relationships, and more. This four-part guide is a blend of concepts and action items from Ignite Your Potential and also gleaned from Chris Croft (Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University Business School), Chris Voss (former top FBI hostage negotiator, the CEO of The Black Swan Group Ltd, and co-author of the book Never Split the Difference), and Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation.
Great negotiation is about great collaboration!
It’s about several people faced with different aspects of the same problem. The adversary is not the person sitting across from you at the table. The adversary is the situation. The person sitting on the other side of the table is a counterpart who is struggling with some aspect of the same situation you are in. When you work with them and solve the problem together, you’re both better off. With effective negotiation, you can achieve your goals through collaboration and the use of tactical empathy that creates trust-based influence.
Before we get started, please note that this is a solid primer for negotiation. This negotiation guide reviews some of the most important aspects of negotiation. That said, I want to acknowledge that negotiation is something you can take a series of college courses on and even work on for years before you become an expert. So, if you have an important negotiation coming up with high stakes, use this as a guide. Still, we also advise that you study the subject in-depth, do the necessary research, and make sure to practice. Let’s get started with the first out of four parts of our negotiation guide.
Why Do People Avoid Negotiation?
There are a number of reasons why people avoid negotiating and even steer clear of learning about negotiation. Here are four:
1.) Biases About Negotiation
The first reason included within the first part of our negotiation guide discusses the biases about negotiation. Some people fear that it’s rude to negotiate. This might be true in some cultures, outside of specific business practices, but this is generally true in the US and UK.
There are stereotypes about negotiation and often they fall into this idea that it’s somehow off-putting to negotiate. That one person will win and the other will lose. That the loudest, most aggressive person will win by taking the most, at the other person’s expense. That one person beats another. None of these ideas are true. When you consider how stereotypes form…. they begin as misunderstandings. They begin when one person who offers judgments doesn’t actually understand the other person or thing in depth.
If you feel or believe these things but you’re open to thinking of negotiation differently then consider the idea that people who don’t understand negotiation, could be “speaking a different language” than people who do know how to negotiate. Think of negotiation as a dance. Do you want to be in a situation where this dance is happening, but you don’t know how to recognize what is happening or how to participate? Or you don’t know the dance moves? Or do you insist on not doing the dance because you buy into the stereotype? But the great thing is, it’s so easy and so valuable that it’s worth overcoming this resistance to learning and seeing this practice for what it is. Negotiation is a communication tool that’s been used and honed for thousands of years.
2.) It Appears to Have No Structure
Another reason people will avoid negotiation is that they don’t know what the other person will do. There seem to be no rules. What if it all goes horribly wrong? What if you don’t get the thing you were wanting? Or you don’t get the deal that you wanted to make? But I am going to show you throughout this negotiation guide that there IS a process you can follow and that the process will ensure that you can’t fail to get some aspect of the deal.
People will also fear negotiation because they are concerned by the idea that they could look cheap or greedy. Especially if in the end we have to cave in and say, “All right then. I will pay the full price after all.” What if they laugh at us? What if they think we’re a bad person after we’re finished? Wanting to be liked is one of the biggest barriers to negotiation.
Or a similar reason one might fear negotiation, and maybe this is more important to some people, is a fear of hurting the relationship. Yet it is possible to negotiate and still be liked. And it’s worth saying that, especially in our more important relationships, in our personal lives, and our professional lives…if you can’t have critical conversations with people that are important to you…you may be damaging the relationship already through avoidance. If you aren’t getting your needs met in that relationship, because you don’t know how to communicate your needs effectively, that is a problem that will eventually come to a head and backfire later. In other words, you need to bring attention to that issue immediately.
4.) A General Blindspot
In this case, one may just not have encountered any lessons on negotiation. Maybe you don’t have a shared language or understanding of what negotiation really is. No fear…. that is why we created this negotiation guide!
All of these feelings and concerns can be resolved. In fact, every reason for not negotiating is really presenting us with an opportunity to learn. So, what do you think is the most significant barrier for you when it comes to negotiation? And how will you overcome it?
One trick is to think of this as a game or a dance. Remember that humans have been doing this for thousands of years. It’s a type of conversation. In the worst-case scenario, in the event that you negotiate and the other person, says no or will not participate, the most regretful fate is that you’re back where you were before you began to negotiate. You aren’t going to lose the deal or the offer if you follow some basic guidelines.
What Happens When We Avoid Negotiation?
We lose money. We leave money on the table. Research has shown that women (and men as well) who do not negotiate are leaving 1 to 1.5 million dollars on the table through the course of their lifetime of careers!
We lose opportunities because we don’t know how these conversations work.
We don’t get what we ultimately want. This is both short-term but also the achievement of our big-picture goals and dreams. And most of all we don’t get what we deserve.
Enjoy Part 1 of Our Negotiation Guide?
Find part one of our negotiation guide helpful? If so, please join us in part two of our negotiation guide series where we will begin to give you the best tips for getting the most out of any negotiation.