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Business Negotiations



Negotiations should be thought of as healthy discussions and not as argumentative conversations. Business works on the basis of relationship, thus helping a business earn friends, not enemies. Refrain from only winning the negotiation, but take the time to focus on winning the person across the table as well. Negotiating is more than a discussion of issues or a signed verbal agreement. Negotiating is an unwritten judgment on the quality and character of the participants. In reaching that judgment, integrity is the key element. Integrity, without substitution, makes deals work. The absence of integrity cannot be offset by intelligence, competence, or tight legal documents. Without integrity, no deal, however carefully written, is worth a grain of salt. Built into the transaction must be a high sense of values, the generosity to resolve subsequent difficulties equitably, and a commitment to meet the intent of the agreement.

Principles For Written Negotiations

Written correspondence has long been a trusted formal medium of communication, but when negotiating is the matter at hand, take heed. Even though advances in technology facilitate the accelerated delivery and receipt of discourse, the absence of nonverbal communication allows room for misinterpretation. For example, e-mail's efficiency makes it an integral component of negotiations today, adding a new dynamic for work flow plans, but at the same time appears to take longer than traditional face-to-face negotiations. Moreover, utilizing e-mail for negotiations typically provides less diplomacy, fairness, satisfaction, and are considered more impersonal, all of which lead to an increased rate of misinterpretations, deadlocks, and eventually, mistrust.

While face-to-face negotiations provide an opportunity to clarify questions, build rapport, and observe both non-verbal and verbal indicators, e-mail serves to transmit factual information. As the lack of a strong personal relationship with the other negotiating party is a major concern which may lead to hostility, adopt negotiating techniques to overcome potential negotiation problems. E-mail correspondants should utilize blended negotiations starting with a personal telephone call or better yet, an actual face-to-face meeting. Within the content of daily e-mails, share personal information about yourself and invest a few moments developing a personal relationship with the other party. Take advantage of visual emoticons, and if you find yourself in a cross-cultural environment, ensure that you have enough knowledge about the other culture to keep your foot out of your mouth. Utilize non-task chatting, which helps develop trust, encourages honesty and builds rapport, to improve your networking skills while keeping one business model in mind: profit. Keep in mind that e-mail negotiations are not inherently good or evil: they are just another medium for written communication which should facilitate, not impede the negotiating process.

Strategies For Spoken Negotiations

Persuading someone to accept your viewpoint:

  • If you don't have anything important to say, shut up and listen.The other person wants to be heard and when you let the other person speak, gain insight into their viewpoint. The other party will reciprocate and be more attentive when you have something to say.
  • Refrain from interruption, which ushers in anger, effectively blocking all forms of communication.
  • Mellow out and do not convey a belligerent impression. A soft-spoken person encourages corresponding treatment from others. An argumentative attitude hinders when trying to change opinions.
  • Be an oak: strong, pacific, and patient. Hear the other personís full viewpoint before expressing yours.
  • Restate the other person's position and objectives as soon as you understand them. People like to know they have been heard and understood. This is an inexpensive concession for you to make; forcing you to listen better; and helps you to phrase your points in the other personís terms. Paraphrase to indicate your bias.
  • Stick to your guns: cover one point at a time and avoid overwhelming with arguments.
  • Exhibit time management awareness by keeping the other person from digressing: temporarily agree on nonessential points while procrastinating minor discussion until a later date.
  • Be optimistic: no one likes to come home and hear that the sky is falling.