Negotiations outside the box
Keeping an Open Mind
article by Diane Shawe M.Ed
Have you ever started working on a project and had someone come along with an idea you never thought of that made the project much better? Perhaps it sped up the process, gave it much more depth or meaning, or led to a richer result in some way.
If you were closed-minded about the project, you would not have even noticed that someone came to you with a better suggestion. Being open-minded, however, allowed you to recognise the value and merit of someone else’s ideas, and voila! Things worked out much better than you had ever imagined.
When you apply open-mindedness to negotiating, it helps to support your flexible and adaptable nature. For example, perhaps you set your mind to negotiate the best price you can, but your counterpart approaches you with a better price than you had imagined as your benchmark. If you are open-minded, you hear what your counterpart proposes. If you are closed-minded, you are so focused on the outcome that you might not hear what they offer at all, and you may actually negotiate yourself a weaker deal.
Not every negotiation is about reaching a win-win solution. Sometimes, not everyone can win. For example, when an organization is preparing to downsize, the employees may be looking for the most benefit they can get, but they know that they will not have a job in the end. In collaborative negotiations, your real objective is to reach the best possible result for all parties. This might include some compromise, and should always involve working toward relationships.
Long Term and Short Term Relationships
When you consider relationships in negotiating, the length of the relationship is very important. If you are negotiating with someone that you will never see again, and with whom you have no investment, go ahead and put everything on the table. This would be the case if you were bargaining about a one-time purchase (such as furniture or a television from a commission based salesman, for example). In many cases, however, you may be looking at a much longer-term relationship. In the case of labour negotiations, many unions have strong negotiators who work with them for many years.
The union negotiators are skilled professionals, and they may approach your meetings very confident that they, themselves, will be around much longer than the current group of managers and negotiators that the employer has. If you are an employer negotiator, you will want to consider the long-term effects of the relationship that you foster, as well as the specific terms that are agreed upon. Expect, for example, that if you are currently negotiating wage or benefit rollbacks, the union is going to be very resistant, and that if you are successful in negotiating those reductions, the union is going to negotiate their reinstatement at the next round.
Labour negotiations are about long-term relationships. Consider also that the terms that you bring up in this kind of negotiation will have a long lasting effect on the company and its employees. The union knows this too, and that it is important to realise that the negotiations are a part of a long-term relationship that can be strengthened or damaged by the results of the negotiations that you are taking part in.
When you are thinking in terms of relationships, be ready to leave some items on the table. That means that some items that you thought were important may not be considered in this round of negotiations. This is one of the times when detaching yourself from the outcome is important; there will be other opportunities to work with this contract or similar ones again, and those may be the times that you will be able to bring those other items to the fore.
About the Author
Diane Shawe is a speaker, trainer, mentor, consultant, entrepreneur and author with 15 published titles on Amazon. With more than 25 years of experience. She has personally trained over 2800 people around the world in a variety of fields and has published a number of works. She has contributed to over 100 Kiva Entrepreneur’s around the world.
She was also one of the producers of a Day time Ladies Talk Show in 2015 and Host of one of the UK’s best loved Annual Hair Extensions Awards.
Diane also enjoys oil painting, sailing and clay pigeon shooting. She focuses on topics that she is passionate about in her writing and has attracted over 36,000 followers on her popular blog.
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