Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting Past No: Negotiating In Difficult Situation (2/6)

As mentioned in my first entry, most people find it  very challenging to negotiate with difficult people or under  undesirable circumstances. These challenges can be broken down into five categories: your own reaction, opponent’s negative emotions, opponent’s negotiate habits, opponent’s skepticism about the benefits of agreement, and opponent’s perceived power.

William Ury invents an all purpose five step method called “breakthrough negotiation strategy”. This strategy specifically addresses the five common challenges in negotiating under adverse conditions. I will talk about key concepts of each step in the following entries. A summary of the particular step will be given at the end of each entry as well.   
The first step of the “breakthrough negotiation strategy” is called “GO TO THE BALCONY”.  Basically, it means that when your opponent plays hard ball (obstructive, offensive, deceptive tactics or all of them)   with you, you have to stay calm. Don’t react to these tactics. Generally, we have three natural reactions to difficult negotiation. They are striking back (you are going to pay for this!), giving in (ok ok, I will accept your demand, I just want to make the deal quickly. That is me unfortunately) and breaking off (I don’t want to deal with you anymore, go away!).   

All of us have our own preference of natural reactions. Skillful negotiators are always actively looking for our natural reactions and exploit them. They use many different tactics to test our reactions. You can always see such social exchanges from procedure cop shows. Cops use a wide range of tactics to get criminals to confess (give in).  The key in  getting their confession is to disrupt and control their emotions (both positive and negative). They call it “knock them off the balance”.    
Therefore, the first step is all about maintaining our mental balance. How can we do it? We go to a place called “the balcony”. Imagine you are negotiating on a stage and then imagine yourself climbing onto a balcony overlooking the stage.  The balcony is a metaphor for a mental attitude of detachment. 
What do you do on “the balcony”? Well, we need to think about at least five issues . 1) We have to identify our interests in that negotiation.  2) We also have to identify and develop our BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement).  3) You need to ask yourself “should I negotiate at all?” “Are the outcomes worth the time and effort?” 4) We have to recognize our opponent’s tactics (obstructive, offensive or deceptive). 5) We have to know our mental weaknesses (our  hot buttons), and ask the question “Are they pressing them?”

Here, I have to clarify a crucial concept in negotiations: interests. People are often confused about their positions and interests. Positions are concrete things you say you want, such as terms and conditions, the dollars and cents. Interests are the intangible motivations that lead you to take that position: needs, desires, concerns and fears.  When we negotiate with people, we negotiate interests and dissolve positions between you and your opponent. In the word, we have to humanize negotiation processes. This allows us to have room to move around in negotiation, instead of adding or subtracting cold hard data. Remember we can only negotiate with human beings, not machines.
How can we go to “the balcony” in the middle of negotiations? The answer is very simple. You do whatever you need to do to buy time for yourself. The best way is to allow you to leave the negotiations physically. Taking a coffee break, making a phone call to your bosses outside or simply going to toilet are all very legitimate methods. If you cannot leave the place, you can always slow down the negotiations. This creates a mental space for you to go to “the balcony”.      
In summary, we have to recognize and understand our emotional reactions during negotiations. And then we have to suppress these reactions and focus on our interests. As the author states, “Your worst enemy is your own quick reaction; only you can make the concession you will later regret.”

Click here to download Chapter Summary 1.1 or View it here

1 comment:

  1. Cool! That's some useful advice:) Can try next time..ahha! Oh, and nice mind map by the way - nice of you to put in the effort!