Published - June 2002

By Dave Jakielo


You may have heard the term, "win-win" battered around in conversation. It's most often used in reference to the negotiation process. I don't just mean the "formal" process of negotiating a client contract but all types of negotiating.

We are constantly in the negotiating process, especially if you're married, have children, have a job, or ever come in contact with another human being. Everything we have has come from a negotiation. Everything we want in the future will require a negotiation.

Given we can't avoid these type of encounters let's look at some elements that are involved in the process. There are five areas we need to examine.

One premise of a negotiating session is that the party with the most information has the best chance for a successful outcome. Without the proper preparation, you're walking in the dark, and you'll have trouble finding your way without bumping into obstacles.

It important to know what you'd like the outcome to be so you can prepare a road map to reach your goal. Here are some ideas to help with the preparation process:
-- Make sure you know all the issues involved.
-- Determine what your side and the party on either side have in common.
-- Try to understand the style of the other party.
-- Decide what the starting position is.
-- Know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish.

Both sides will maneuver as best they can. It important to recognize if the other party is trying to gain an advantage. Here are some techniques to be aware of that may be used against you in a negotiating session. Of course, these may also be techniques you might want to use yourself:
-- Stalling-the old "let-me-check-with-a-higher-authority" ploy.
-- Avoiding-setting aside a difficult issue with the "let's-get-back-to-this-later" line instead of hammering out a solution.
-- Appending-asking for one more "little" thing after an apparent agreement has been reached.
-- Clamming up-giving the other party the silent treatment when you're trying to reach an agreement. The first one who talks usually loses.

OK , OK, you think I've made a mistake, one doesn't listen with one's eyes, one listens with ears. WRONG! Let's examine how you listen with your eyes, too, to hear the message being sent across the divide.
-- Eye contact. People have trouble making eye contact if they aren't being completely straightforward. Look into the eyes of the person on the other side as you negotiate. At best you'll get a good straight look back. At worse, you'll unnerve him.
-- Posture. Sitting or standing, is the posture of the other individual open and friendly or hunched and closed? Arms folded across the chest usually doesn't make for open communication.
-- Tension. Signs of tension send a clear signal of nervousness. Tapping on the table with a pencil, jiggling a knee, or working three small balls in the palm like Captain Queeg are a dead giveaway that the other side is feeling a little vulnerable.
-- Facial expressions. Is the person smiling, signaling a willingness to communicate or scowling and frowning, putting up a barrier?

The following mistakes are common during the negotiation process:
-- Setting up artificially high demands.
-- Being closed minded.
-- Attacking the toughest issue first.
-- Making assumptions.
-- Getting defensive.
-- Not knowing when to walk away.

Now that we know what to watch out for, here are some ideas that will help you to achieve your goals.
-- Try to hold the meeting on your own turf. The home team usually has the advantage.
-- Allow enough time. Don't rush. If you don't have ample time, reschedule.
-- Stay cool. Keep your emotions under control so you are thinking with your brain rather than reacting. If you lose it, you lose the advantage.
-- Always seek the win-win solution. Victory is sweet, so leave the other side with a good taste in the mouth so both parties are content with the final outcome.

Last but not least, let me leave you with this one final piece of advice: Never say yes to the first offer. Happy negotiating.

This monthly feature addresses topics of interest to you. If you have questions or would like additional information, or have ideas on topics, contact Dave Jakielo, Seminars, Training and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15205-3214. Phone and Fax numbers are 412-921-0976. Email Web page (which includes past articles):

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