How you negotiate will determine your success after the close

If you want to get an agreement and set you and your team up for success, consider negotiation as an opportunity to develop a relationship and stay open. Negotiation is a key step in the process for starting off on the right foot - but only if you choose to.

I've been through many negotiations in my career - for job roles (internal and external), contracts, renegotiating project scope, even setting expectations for partnerships with team members and peers. What I've seen and experienced is a norm that approaches negotiation as a win/lose battle from which both parties usually lose. The day after the close, both parties spend time and energy building trust and repairing a relationship that is already soured. On the other hand, when you are able to build trust and be collaborative during this process, then you may actually get to focus on the work you've just contracted. Realizing there are many aspects to what you are negotiating, such as the requirements, legal considerations, definitions and assumptions for example, I am providing three ideas about how you can lead during your next negotiation.

Be Curious. Find out as much as you can about what the organization wants to derive from this relationship. The trap I see people falling into is a focus on gathering this information for an advantage rather than a focus on mutual dependence. How will this engagement benefit both parties? What does each party bring to the table? What commitment will be required from each one?

Be curious about who you are dealing with. Has the person been in the industry or company long? Are they experienced in contracts and negotiating? What do they really want from the negotiation process? I encourage you to think broadly on the last one, beyond terms or requirements - is this a career changer for him/her? What do they like or dislike in negotiations?

Find new ideas in preparation. Successful negotiation depends on the work you do before you engage with your counterpart. While it's easy to go through a standard checklist of information, it is important to keep asking "What else should I know?" or "If I were in their shoes...". While performing this work, keep an attitude of openness, learning with each finding instead using findings to confirm what you expected. What I've experienced is that I'm able to make connections between the data points and realize entirely new solutions that provide avenues to keep the conversation going instead of stalling out.

Be clear on what you want. I've started asking myself this question every day and it is incredibly powerful in moving you toward your goals. It's no different with negotiations. The more clearly you can communicate what you want for your organization and yourself, the more easily your counterpart can respond. That said, its important to know, even before your are interacting in the give and take of this process, where there is room for compromise. It is a negotiation after all.



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