Who won – your goals in negotiations?

Desmond Williams

The word “negotiation” originated from the Latin expression, “negotiatus”, past participle of negotiare which means “to carry on business”. With international negotiation the key is not only for you to “carry on business” but also for you to help your customers, suppliers and partners to carry on business.

Now there will be some “negotiators” out there who are always looking for ways of winning at all cost, even if it means eliminating suppliers and customers and it’s easy to see where this deal maker mentality comes from. The media glorifies big name deal makers and the film industry has also had its role in perpetuating the “win at all costs mind-set” through films such as “Wall Street”

But what kind of behaviour does this approach create? People who view negotiation as an act of manipulation and aggression view the contract as the conclusion and see themselves as solely responsible for getting there, whatever the cost. They behave very differently from those who see the agreement as a process, a way of building long term relationships where both they and their suppliers and customers are aligned and who believe their role is to ensure that the parties involved actually realise the value they are trying to create.

Effective International negotiation requires both parties to understand that they cannot control environmental factors dictated by culture, but that they can make adjustments to their approach and to the way they manage and control the immediate context. This means not only knowing the process of negotiation but adjusting language and pace. You may not be always talking to the decision maker but you will need to know how to manage the people and process in order to work with the decision maker whilst including the whole team.

International negotiation requires you to pay much more attention to whether both parties’ commitments are realistic, whether stakeholders are sufficiently aligned, and whether those who must implement the deal can establish a suitable working relationship, not just during the negotiation process but afterwards when the agreements are implemented.

Sure, you still need to know how to structure the negotiation process, how to work alone and within a team. You will need to understand how to prepare, when to propose, how to trade and creating value for the other party and of course how to bread deadlocks. But you will need to understand what the other party values both intrinsically as well as extrinsically within the boundaries of their culture and to be able to work with both of these factors and not only carry on in business but prosper and grow together.

This article is authored by Des Williams, a global trainer living in the UK, who has assisted national and international organisations with practical support in developing their business for over 25 years. His experience in psychology made him investigate the different motivation and outcomes of individual and group negotiation, why agreements fall apart and why they work.

Des runs for example Advanced Negotiation Skills training.

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