December 2019

Reaching your negotiation objectives

The Master Negotiator Bestseller Amin Talab

Setting, understanding and pursuing a goal:
1 of the 6 essential strengths of the Master Negotiator

His unconditional orientation towards his own, but also his partner’s objectives, is one of the main success factors for the Master Negotiator (this article is an excerpt from the book “The Master Negotiator”).

By neglecting his own objectives, he will hardly achieve them. Ignoring opposing objectives will leave his negotiation partner little reason to come to an agreement.

Preparing well also means being aware of one´s own aims and the partner’s presumed objectives and interests by asking very specific questions:

  •     What do I really want?
  •     How much of this do I really have to achieve?
  •     Which parts could I abandon the easiest?
  •     Why do I want exactly that outcome?
  •     What personal, organisational and other interests are involved?

Already, by briefly considering possible principles, character of the negotiation partner and viability of expectations, a lot of time and effort will be saved later on.

However, the most important homework is specifying one’s objective. You must be very clear on what you really need to exit the negotiation with. When formulating objectives, one has to be clear about its main tasks:

  •     The objective determines the journey
  •     Time efficiency
  •     Offers can only be rated by reference to objectives
  •     The aim legitimises the negotiation process
  •     Competency requirements become clear
  •     Clarity of objectives fosters the creation of options

It is useful to formulate a rather limited negotiation objective and build in “alarms bells” that force you to stop the negotiation and reconsider your situation, given certain outcomes. But be careful. If you limit yourself too much, you might find it hard to develop creative solutions with the little development space left.

achieved completely

all major parts

satisfying

minimum

not acceptable

catastrophe

 

Goal Setting and Attainment

As an “negotiation joker” – advisor and “ghost negotiator“, it is my task in preparations to come up with ideas and analyse strategies. Sometimes, time is rather limited and I only meet negotiators on the day of the negotiation round.

After getting a first overview of the strategy, I generally like to put forward a very simple question: “What is the specific aim of this upcoming round?” It is startling that in 7 out of 10 cases, I do not get a satisfactory answer, but something along the lines of “I want to get out of this as much as I can” or “I am not sure what I can abandon. I want to see first what the other side is offering.” Naturally, problems are bound to happen.

If one does not know what port one is steering for, no wind is favourable to him.

Lucius A. Seneca, 5 BC- AD 65

Even if objectives were set initially, one sometimes loses sight of them in arduous, lengthy proceedings. However, objectives determine the success of the negotiation. The negotiation is not meant to be an end in itself; working on objectives is the central element in the preparation.

At first sight, flexibility in the negotiation and the consideration of the negotiation partner´s wishes seem to contradict the attainment of one´s goals. Often, this contradiction can be solved by uncovering the hidden interests behind the stated positions.[1] In order to stay flexible, it is crucial to know one´s own interests and motivation and be able to prioritise.

An experiment proves the dependence of the outcome on the formulation of the objective[2]:

In a classic buy-sell transaction, the negotiators were given a specific objective. Reaching that objective meant being able to continue and go to a “bonus round”.

The first group was given the objective of $2.10 to continue. The second group was given $6.10 as the objective to be able to continue. Both groups were given the same minimum price (walk-away point) and both groups thought the objective was realistically achievable. Why else would there be a bonus round?

A look into the results is most revealing: The group with the higher qualification objection achieved an average of $ 6.25 whereas the second group only bargained for an average $ 3.35! The sales price was doubled with identical conditions apart from the given objectives!


[1] For the distinction see above Interest: the lighthouse in the negotiation

[2] Sydney SIEGEL and Lawrence FOURAKER “The Effect of Level of Aspiration on Differential Payoff“

Chess, Strategy & Silence

Kineke Mulder conducted this interview for Chess unlimited*

What brings the “Master Negotiator” to playing chess?

As Keynote Speaker and Consultant my main tool is the spoken language. For a change, I enjoy interaction without having to talk. Ideally, this is considered polite when playing chess.

Strategic dialogue without spoken words is exciting and leads to be in the very moment. I can focus on the position on the board and be with my myself and my thoughts, contrary to my professional responsibilty, where I always do have to have the interests of my participants and the development of the group process at the top of my mind.

Are there other reasons for favoring chess as much as you do?

The chess game offers lots of advantages for travelling professions: I can take it with me to seminar or congress venues anywhere in the world easily. It also is easy to find chess partners, as you don´t need to find somebody with a particular mindset or even talk the same language.

Playing chess also is a time for me absent of the responsibility for other peoples´ success. In contrast to being asked for my expert opinion in my Negotiation Jokers and trainings, it doesn´t matter who is the expert and who is student. Playing chess sometimes you learn, sometimes your opponent, or, in the best case, both from each other.

Amin from Wien in front of his books

To your last tournament in Vienna you brought your children with you?

Yes. My twin daughters got interested in chess from age 6, to my delight! It activates the brain and fosters skills like anticipating enemy moves and thinking strategically. My girls are in general pretty curious, ask lots of questions, also philosophical and cultural ones.

You just started an intercultural project together?

In my opinion, animating young minds to think critically and independently is of utmost importance. This is particularly true, when you take the current societal and political development of pitting groups against each other, migration and the search for meaning for so many people into account. These are all topics that have a lot to do with negotiation in a more extensive sense, of being and dealing with each other, of balancing interests to reach your goals.

With this in mind we started a special project on intercultural tolerance: Together with other families and their kids we will create the book The Little FreeThinker, with images and texts coming from “little, free, open minds”. We are in the Crowdfunding phase right now and hope to find enough support to print a colorful example for crosscultural team work, and maybe even fund a website on the topic.

Find more on the project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amintalab/little-freethinker

Our intercultural Book Project Video (5 minutes)

Thank you for the invitation and our conversation!

My pleasure. Good luck for you also as freelancer negotiation and selling your services, as well as with Chess Unlimited. You create a lot of pleasure by organizing very intercultural chess meetings in Vienna.

*The original was posted on https://chess.mulder.at/amin-aus-wien-a/

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