Reaching your negotiation objectives

23. December 2017
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“

 

What a Negotiation Consultant has to offer you

16. December 2017

What is my profession as Negotiation Counselor about? How do I help people improve their negotiation results?

If you want to know what makes people choose me, you might like this video:

Even more information about us here

 

Learning by making mistakes

17. September 2017

Striving to improving your negotiation skills can be a humbling enterprise. When designing the Master Negotiator Curriculum, I ensure participants learn by mastering different objectives in negotiation cases, i.e. role-play simulations.

I am choosing these cases specifically to expose inconsistencies in argumentation, option seeking or strategy, such as the tendency to be overconfident or to assume that they are in a zero-sum-game.

Delegates (and people in general) tend to feel threatened when they discover that they have been making bad decisions because their intuition was flawed. If they see these mistakes as a personal deficiency, they sometimes start making excuses, blaming the very case and setting for being unrealistic or even unfair. They feel “tricked”.

In order to grow negotiation skills, however, changing sub-optimal behavior presupposes feeling uncomfortable with some aspects of a specific action.

Otherwise, why should you even change (it)? This is the reason I reserve quite a bit of time in the beginning of any training to explaining the importance of giving and receiving feedback. It is essential and making mistakes a prerequisite to learning.

Feedback like “you were pretty good, stay like you are” is simply not enough. It is impertinent to be able to name the specific action that should be changed, and how. Only then can the participant choose freely whether they want to try a new line of action.

In negotiations, sometimes you win,
and sometimes you learn.

Brain research has firmly shown that negotiators are susceptible to judgment biases and perception traps like the “Primacy” or “Halo” effect (see Master Negotiator p108). These shape our decisions in negotiations unconsciously.

Once you allow yourself that awkward feeling of making mistakes, you’ll be in a much better position to change patterns that help you improve your negotiations relationships, options and outcomes.

So before going into your next negotiation, make sure you win either way: getting your objective, or learning what you could do better next time.

Tip: Don´t waste your mistakes. I am here to help preparing you for your negotiation and spotting your learning experience as your Negotiation Joker.

Negotiation Sparring Center

22. May 2017

It was a relaxing and uplifting Opening celebration of our new Sparring Center (how to get here). We were enjoying each others company, stories, and having lental soup, tea and ice-cream together. Our doors are now open for the next Sparring Rounds

Sparring, Workshops or Online-Joker – don´t wait any longer to get the support & results you deserve.

See the 500 books in the background? Awesome!

The Name is program: People are really communicating here

Our smallest fans even signed with a heart (see glass chart in the background)

Thanks to one of our SparringClub Pro members, who happens to also be a superb photographer, Dr. Georg Krismanic, we are able to offer you views from around the whole Sparring and Coaching Center here:

Want to see our seminar room in 3 D – Just walk in here

Want to see our coaching room in 3 D – Just walk in here

Are you dealing with people? Give them hope and have a future.

9. December 2015

Like most of my clients I am working in the “knowledge industry”. No matter if you are a legal, financial, pharmaceutical, sales or other expert: Ultimately you deal with the transfer, activation and/or implementation of your knowledge to help your clients better achieve their objectives, just like I do with my keynotes and training.

So I figured I should share a few ideas from attending the #KnowledgeSummit here in Dubai, UAE. They made me think about my role as Negotiation Counselor again.

“It´s said that you can survive for 40 days without food, you can survive eight days without water, you can survive for eight minutes without air, but you cannot survive for one second without hope. Education is about hope” stated Gordon Brown.

I totally support that. When giving keynotes, It still strikes me every time how important the element of hope is, and how thankful the audience for it, independent of the content.

Sure enough, not only negotiations break down without hope, but so do most interpersonal relationships. As many of you know, I am very heavily leaning on the concept of “trust” in my workshops. I guess i will have a closer look at “hope” (for a better outcome, relationship, or what it might be) from now on.

Knowledge Summit Dubai

Interestingly, Brown mentions this also in a context that has been occupying all of us: “Even in the most hopeless of situations, we can create hope […] When it comes to the refugee problem in this region, where young people are without hope, we have got to give them that hope by making sure that they have education”.

Couldn´t agree more. And let me add that education might also help with another group that gives reason for grave concern: Young people that are not sure what to do with their lives, some of which end up finding interest in fundamentalist ideologies, whatever their name, color or shade.

I love the thought that I should be able to create hope in my area.

Maybe you like it, too. Let us make it the starting point to make this place a better one.

Efficiency Interview

18. July 2015

WHAT IS NEGOTIATION EFFICIENCY?

Interview conducted and originally posted by Syngroup on 17.3.2015

HOW DO GOOD NEGOTIATIONS BEGIN?

With the right objectives in mind. And these are often derived from our own aims in life. Just negotiating well or efficiently is hardly going to bring me happiness in life. I first need to reflect on what I actually want. What kind of benefit do I derive from taking the supplier to the cleaners and bankrupting him?

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS IN NEGOTIATIONS?

Negotiating efficiently means sounding out where I can create added value at no cost to me. Negotiating effectively means setting yourself the right objectives and pursuing them in the negotiation process. When someone pushes past me in the checkout queue at a supermarket, I can either negotiate or simply do nothing. But I do need to know beforehand whether it is worth it for me. Do I have to be in the right, as otherwise I’ll lose face? Then perhaps it’s not worth the effort. If I can turn round and soon forget all about it, it is of no consequence.

SO, ARE WE TALKING HERE ABOUT EFFORT AND BENEFIT?

Yes. Because the things that make us what we are – creativity, belief, hope, happiness or luck – are not efficient. This means that negotiations do have some kind of hybrid structure. They are not just about contents, but also about relationships.

AND THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DEFINED IN TERMS OF EFFICIENCY?

Exactly. Efficiency is, after all, a very mechanical attribute. If however you happen to have a trusting relationship between two parties, people or groups, the actual content is often not a particular problem. It’s like in a marriage. If the two people in a marriage understand one another, the question of whether the face cloth should be on the left or the toothbrush on the right is no longer an unsolvable issue.

SO IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT IS IT THAT TENDS TO BE LACKING: THE READINESS OR ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE?

These two aspects can’t be separated. Only if I am prepared to negotiate am I capable of negotiating. Lots of people tend to think that you always have to be hard when negotiating. That’s completely wrong. You have to strive for both sides to come out with something. Of course it’s a spectacular sight to see someone bang on the table and say: “Take it or leave it, Baby.” Everyone then thinks this is how to negotiate. But this is only one minute in a month-long process. I would like all of us to learn to negotiate better. And to actually properly negotiate. And not be afraid of facing up to things.

DR. STEFAN AMIN TALAB, LL.M. is a coach in negotiating, author of the bestseller
The Master Negotiator and director of the comeon.institute. He is a qualified economist and lawyer, developer of the sought-after Negotiation Sparring and is active throughout the world as a “ghost negotiator” and key note speaker.

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