The special ingredient in negotiations? Collaboration!
When you’re negotiating, it’s natural to focus on getting the best possible result for yourself, your organisation or someone else whose interests you are representing.
Having an awareness of and taking into consideration the other party’s position, however, can be equally beneficial. By adopting a collaborative approach to the negotiation, you can have a quicker, more efficient negotiation and increase the chances of reaching a more effective outcome for all parties.
Building rapport and trust with the other party is an essential first step.
In establishing a connection based on shared interests or experiences and creating a positive atmosphere for the negotiation, you can promote the creation of trust between the parties and make it easier to identify mutual goals and desired outcomes.
It also helps instil a more relaxed environment, which can reduce the chances of contentious exchanges.
Asking the other party questions about their position and listening to what is said (as well as what is not said) paves the way for for a more detailed and nuanced understanding of their perspective, needs and red lines.
By asking open questions, you as a negotiator can uncover the underlying interests and motivations driving the other party's stance. You can use this to identify areas of common ground and generate creative solutions that meet both parties' needs.
Think about the broader context of the negotiation. This context - for example, the wider relationship between the parties - supports you in uncovering areas where compromises can be made. When you look beyond the immediate negotiation, you can more easily avoid getting bogged down in minor details and focus on the bigger picture.
Being well-informed and having that broader context I mention, will also reduce the likelihood of you making rash concessions or counter-proposals, that may, ultimately, not be in your best interests.
When you next find yourself heading towards a negotiation, consider how you would build rapport, ask more open questions and assess the position on the basis of an understanding of all the relevant facts as well as the bigger picture.
Approaching the negotiation with a collaborative approach increases your chances of getting to a better outcome – for you as well as everyone else involved.