Life is full of negotiation. They come one after the other. The irony is that most of us are not equipped enough for negotiations. We turn to think that great negotiators are born and not made. But professional negotiators in government and business will tell you that there is a scientific aspect of this art.
You don’t have to win every point but knowing a few things will make you get great results no matter what you are involved in.
Know your boundaries
Preparation before the process of negotiation starts is a very important thing.Â You must take time to know what you are looking for, what you can accept and the point at which you will have to walk out. You will have to research to know what the other party wants and how badly they need it. You will have to do more on the other party in order to find out about the reasons for entering into the negotiation as well as their strengths and weaknesses. You should also know your own strengths and weaknesses – the kinds of negotiations that interest you.
This means you have to choose the right people to do the negotiation. If it is a one–off transaction you need people who are competitive and see the negotiation as a match they have to win. Those who are long-term relationship builders should not be allowed to lead these types of negotiations.
It is good to build trust during negotiations. All parties must be made to feel that the process is fair and everyone will be listened to and considered. This was the case of George Mitchell during the time he was leading negotiations in Northern Ireland.
Know your ZOPA
ZOPA means zone of possible agreement. You need to establish this before you start the negotiation. In negotiations there are lots of overlapping interests. These should be defined at the beginning so that reference could be made to it later when unnecessary details threaten to break down talks.
Know when to walk out
If you cannot determine a ZOPA, you should be bold enough to walk out. You can have better chances another time. There is no need hanging on to what will not work. There is a time to let go.