I included this first since we often think that negotiation is about getting what you want from others, which is true. But what we don’t focus on is that you have to first negotiate with yourself first in making sure you know what you really want. Until you have do this, you are not ready to negotiate with others.
Negotiation is hard according to the Forbes blog “Why Negotiators Still Aren’t ‘Getting To Yes’ .“ First, there is a lack of trust; second, people are irrational when it comes to making a decison; third, people hate negotiating. If you think negotiating with others is tough, but what is even harder is negotiating with yourself. But that is what you have to do first before you are ready to negotiate with others.
The first thing you have to ask yourself before any negotiation is “What do you really want?” Without doing that, you may ultimately get what you want, but later realize that you did not want what you got through negotiation.
This often happens when you get stuck with your positions and not your interests. But to know your interests, you have to first know what you really want, and then only can you focus on what others want. Doing it in this order will help you come up with creative solutions to reach an agreement that is a win-win one. Otherwise, you will be engaging in a win-lose negotiation where you may win in the short-term but lose in the long-term.
What is the first thing you have to take care of in any negotiation?
Before you can negotiate with others, you have to first negotiate with yourself. This is what William Ury (an American author, academic, anthropologist and negotiation expert) recommends in his book, "Getting to Yes Yourself: (and Other Worthy Opponents)." Until you get this right, you are going to find it difficult to negotiate with others and resort to a win-lose attitude that can be destructive to both you and the other party.
We can't control what the other party's inner needs are, but we certainly know have to know what our inner needs are to negotiate effectively. Theodore Roosevelt once observed, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
You want to practice mindfulness over mindlessness. Mindfulness is a buzzword associated with meditation, yoga, and spirituality. These are all means of getting to know yourself better and get control of your mind so you can better understand yourself without being judgmental. But you can get to know yourself better by practicing silence, writing your thoughts down or recording them while you are going for a walk. The main thing to remember is that you want to get control of your thoughts and feelings and focus on what is is that you really want.
One of the most stressful thing we do at work, in relationships or purchasing something is negotiation. To make things difficult, we often have other things on our minds and are operating on autopilot. This works when you are flying a plane, but does not work in real life. When it comes to negotiation if you are not completely focused, you will crash and burn.
You may ask won't practicing mindfulness make me a weak negotiator. Isn't negotiation like going to war as Mika Brezinski (co-host of "Morning Joe" on MSNBC) advises women on her "Knowing Your Value" tour so they can get what they want? How will this make me a better negotiator if I am focusing on my inner needs while the other person is looking after his interests?
This may sound difficult since it is easier to focus on others than ourselves. But you must start with “What do you really want?” Why waste time on something that is not going to satisfy your inner needs?
We often get stuck on positions and are looking to vanquish the other party into agreeing to our positions. The other party---seeing you are focused on your positions---will also get stuck in his position. This makes it difficult to come up with creative solutions to reach an agreement. To prevent this from happening, Ury writes that "If we can learn to influence ourselves first before we seek to influence others, we will be better able to satisfy our needs as well as to satisfy the needs of others."
Based on his lifetime of personal and professional experience, Ury identifies six steps toward negotiation while looking at yourself.
We have all heard that to be an effective negotiator you have to put yourself in others' shoes. But before you do that, you must put first put yourself in your shoes in understanding your deep needs and interests. You have to ask yourself a question that Ury asked one of his clients, "What do you most want right now in your life?"
I recently worked with a client who is in her mid-50s who was negotiating her salary for an excellent job in New York City. When I asked her what she wanted, she immediately brought up salary. I pointed out to her that she is making a big move, and there will be plenty of challenge and a lot of hours she will have to put in this new job. Salary may not be that important months after she accepts the job. I again asked her using Ury's question, "What do you most want right now in your life?”
This time she gave it some thought and said that she would like both challenge and freedom and would be willing to compromise on the salary. She wanted to work more days from home, get more days in vacation, an opportunity to attend two company paid seminars, etc. When we worked it out, she agreed that she is not willing to hold her position on the salary if she could get the other things she valued more. As it turned out, she got the salary she wanted and other items we had discussed; hence, she pulled the trigger and accepted the job.
To put yourself in your shoes, Ury recommends you have to follow three actions: First, see yourself from the "balcony"; second, go deeper and listen with empathy to your underlying feelings for what they are really telling you; third, go even deeper and uncover your underlying needs.
1. See yourself from the “balcony”
When things get heated during a negotiation, instead of attacking, Ury recommends stepping into a balcony, a metaphor for a place where you can calm yourself down and look at the situation objectively. Ury suggests you have to identify your emotion whether it is fear, anger, hatred, etc. and acknowledge it and manage it with thoughtfulness so you can remain calm and continue your negotiation with a clearer perspective.
Going to the "balcony" is like when a teacher used to ask a nursery student to go in a corner for a time-out. But as adults, you have to do it yourself and take a time out. Once you are on the "balcony," take a few deep breaths, gather your thoughts and focus on what's important. Ury writes that "the more effectively you will be able to deal with others and to pursue your interests with ease and success."
2. Go deeper and listen with empathy to your underlying feelings for what they are telling you
This step is hard since we don't know how to listen to our feelings. Often we don't want to. But it is something we must learn to do if we want to find out what we really want. You have to listen to yourself with empathy, trying to understand what you are feeling. When others lose jobs, you may sympathize with them, but the only way you can empathize with them is if you have gone through a similar experience or are currently going through it yourself.
Listening with empathy is very difficult for all of us since we do tend to be very judgmental and not try to understand ourselves. And when this happens it affects our negotiation negatively since we don't have a solid inner base on which to stand. During conflict, it is too late to listen to your inner feelings as you get into "win-lose" mode. You have to practice so that you have clarity in what you are doing and remain calm. If you remain calm, it will affect the other party to do the same and come to a "win-win" agreement.
For example, when you are negotiating for a job, ask yourself, what are you really feeling? Do you fear that you may not have marketable skills in the future to get a good job? Are you fearful that you may not get both personal and professional satisfaction with your job? Do you fear that you will not like your boss or colleagues? There is a lot that goes inside yourself that you need to bring out before you are ready to negotiate. If you don't do this, then you will end up focusing on the wrong things and resort to a "win-lose" attitude that will not lead to a successful negotiation.
A good way to do this is to write down your feelings or thoughts. Once you identify it, you can ask several whys to get to the root of your feelings or thought. I tend to take an audio recorder with me when I am going for a walk and come back with at least 20 to 30 minutes of what I am thinking and feeling. It helps me get it out of my system and I am often amazed later when I listen to it that I expressed what I was feeling and thinking in such detail.
3. Go even deeper and uncover your underlying needs
To get this requires asking simple two questions: "Why?" "Why do I want this?" If you ask this to yourself, then you may be able to come up with creative solutions. The reason this exercise is important is that we tend to focus on positions rather than our deeper interests. Questioning yourself gets to your deeper interests that you alone can answer.
I was once offered a job by a big software company. But when I asked myself what did I want, I realized that I was looking for more responsibility. I knew I could not get that by joining a new company right away, so I had a talk with the CEO of a company for whom I was working. I explained to him that I have a job offer, but I would prefer to stay if I could get more responsibility. I was not asking for a pay raise which I feel he would have given me since he did not want to lose me. The CEO appreciated my candor and said he would see to it that I got more responsibility with a new title reflecting my new role.
Did I negotiate a raise? No. I did not care about money. What I cared about was to get some experience leading a project. I got what I wanted, and the CEO got what he wanted (a good employee who was willing to take an initiative) and no one was resorting to a "win-lose" approach. Because of the experience I gained leading a project, I became more marketable and six months later was offered an excellent job by a big software company that I accepted.
BATNA was something that Roger Fisher and William Ury write about in their famous book on negotiation "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In." William Ury writes in his latest book that through his experience in negotiation over the years, he is now convinced that before you can get to your outer BATNA, you must know your inner BATNA. If you have your inner BATNA then you will remain strong under pressure since your inner BATNA is fixed and can't change based on what your counterpart does. Furthermore, you have complete control over your inner BATNA, which you don't over your outer BATNA.
This is not that different from my telling my son that before he goes for his test, he should create his own test to make sure he really understands the material. This is something he has control over, so when he takes the real test, he will be able to better deal with whatever the outcome. He will take the test with total confidence.
Your inner BATNA is your inner test so you can handle the outer test. Without knowing your inner BATNA, you are more likely to engage in a win-lose negotiation which is hard, time consuming and unpredictable.
Change the Frame
You have a choice when you negotiate whether you want to collaborate or to be confrontational. Many negotiation degenerate into a win-lose negotiation because of both sides focusing on scarcity. When this is the case, the best thing to do is to reframe the problem. This will allow of you and your counterpart to focus on what both of you will get and not what both of you will lose.
Here again, you have to remind yourself that your happiness is dependent on you, not the other party. If what your counterpart gives you will determine your happiness, then you have given up your power during the negotiation process.
Just because there is scarcity of resources does not mean there has to be scarcity of creativity. You have to change the frame and look for creative ways to negotiate so both you and your counterpart are looking at the problem from what you are gaining and not what you are losing. This is hard, but all you can do is to first take control of your inner self, then only can you work on getting your counterpart to see it this way. Remember, any short-term win is going to be temporary so look for a long-term win.
Look For An Opening
Negotiation is mostly a listening game. You want to listen to what other side really wants and where is this coming from. While you are listening and probing, see if there is an opening that has not been explored. If not, go there. For example, you can ask after listening to your counterpart, "What is the minimum you have to see from me that I am really serious in getting this negotiation done?" This is your way of finding out what kind of flexibility you have to come up with in a creative way to get the negotiation done. You don't want to offer any suggestions till you know what your counterpart needs to see from you first. If this gets difficult, then "go to the balcony" and regroup your thoughts.
Respect Your Opponent
No matter how tough it gets during negotiation, you want to be polite and respect your counterpart. This is something you owe him no matter what he does. People sometimes go by the signal you send that you are not only looking after your interest, but the counterpart’s interest too. The only way you can demonstrate this is by showing respect during negotiation.
William Ury writes in his book that this is the strategy hostage negotiators use when they are dealing with a hostage situation. Their first rule is to be polite and “Give the hostage taker a hearing. Listen with close attention and acknowledge his or her point of view. Don’t react, even if, as often happens, the hostage taker goes on the verbal attack. Stay cool and courteous, patient and persistent. In other words, respect and accept the very person who is attacking and rejecting. Meet exclusion with inclusion.”
This can only work if you are able to make your happiness and not react to what your counterpart says and does. Your focus is to get the deal done that is a win-win one.
The thing to remember is to stay in the present. You can't do much about the past and you don't know the future. The only thing that is in front of you is the present. Often we lose track of this and make negotiation intractable since both are difficult to ascertain since everyone understands the past from their viewpoint and everyone has a different viewpoint of how future will turn out. You want to stay away from this since you are negotiation with something no one knows what it is and may make it difficult to reach an agreement. You want to keep it in the present.
Give and Receive
This is not some kind of a manipulation game. Often if you know your inner self, then it will be much easier to give since you know what will make you happy. There is no point holding on to a position just to win the negotiation game. It is better to give so you are reinforcing a win-win attitude and moving away from negotiation with the viewpoint of scarcity. Often giving can payoff, but only give if it it satisfies your inner needs. Without that it is hard to reach an agreement. But you will find that if you give, your counterpart will act the same to reach an agreement that is a win-win one.
Are you happy with your current situation whether you are employed or unemployed?
This is important since unless you get this fixed, you are going to have a hard time negotiating your job. Your happiness should not be determined by a job. You must find something that makes you happy so even if you can’t negotiate a good job, you will still be happy. This gives you a big advantage when you are entering any negotiation, especially a job.
Will the job make you more marketable than before?
If you are taking a job, then it has to be additive. It should help create more options so others would want to hire you. If this is not the case, then you may end up at some dead end job that will be hard to leave.
Will you be happy if you take the job?
This is often the hardest question to answer, but it is a question you must since many people do not spend time on this and then find themselves unhappy few months after they start their new jobs. This takes you out of the present, but you need to have some certainty three to eighteen months from when you start your job.