to negotiate through conflict is obviously critical within
any organisation, regardless of which side of the fence they happen
to sit, and in reality most of us sit on both sides of the fence in
the different situations we find ourselves in. Sometimes we are
buying, other times we are selling. Often we are managing others
and maybe we are being managed.
Point is we have to be able to handle all of the above.
The good negotiator must also have an eye on the value and
relationship that the other side perceives. One of the epiphanies I
had when I first became involved in negotiation was that deals that
worked really well for me, but badly for them were unlikely to be
easy to live with for either side. The car dealer who has been
screwed down on price, is hardly likely to offer great deals on
servicing, the home seller who has had you drop a last minute price
reduction on them, may not clean the house or leave a light bulb in
place when they leave. That is even worse when the relationship is
less transactional, and the two parties need to work together in
the short to medium term at least.
Less obvious I guess is the way that we feel as negotiators
ourselves after the deal is done. Do we feel we have done a good
job? Are we content that whilst we have struggled to land the deal,
is it a good deal all round, that both parties have worked hard to
find a solution that works.
This intangible feeling is mostly about self-worth, have I tried
hard enough to create the value for both sides. A job well done,
that has improved the relationship rather than soured it. Have I
been able to hold my ground when needed and flexed when I can. Am I
satisfied with the result?
A family of balloons, were having problems.
The mummy and Daddy balloon had been trying to persuade Baby
Balloon to stop coming into bed with them at night, without
Daddy balloon says to the Baby Balloon, “enough is enough. You
are not to climb into bed with us tonight”
Baby balloon slinks off. But in the middle of the night he
wakes, and decides to climb into his parents bed. But mummy and
daddy balloon are snuggled up and there is no room.
Undeterred, Baby Balloon unties the knot in his dad and lets a
little air out. Still he can’t fit. He unties his mother's knot and
lets out a little air. Still no room. One last attempt and he
unties his own knot and lets out a little air. This time he is able
to fit without waking his parents.
Morning comes. Daddy Balloon is furious, and yells,
“Baby balloon you have let me down, you have let your mother
down, but worst of all you have let yourself down”
Ill-judged or poorly thought through negotiations can let our
business down, our clients or suppliers down or ourselves down.
In many ways that is the most unpleasant let down of all.