Discover why tailoring your approach to negotiation will achieve new results
A traditional negotiation approach is consistent and reliable: it employs classic bargaining strategies like assertiveness, pressure tactics, projections of authority, and competitiveness. It frequently leans towards a win/lose mindset known as ‘distributive negotiation’, in which each party tries to maximise what they get out of the deal while minimising the other party’s gains.
However, no two negotiations are ever exactly the same – even successive negotiations between the same parties aren’t identical! Why?
- There are many different types of negotiations.
- Every negotiation will have its own unique context.
- Each party will have their own negotiation styles.
- The timelines for each deal will differ.
- The parameters of each party’s bargain zone (‘negotiation range’) will vary.
Clearly, employing the same old approaches to negotiation every time cannot work. Every new interaction warrants a tailored approach with carefully chosen negotiation strategies. And if you’re still using a traditional approach, you’re not achieving the success you could be.
What exactly do we mean by a ‘negotiation approach’? Think of it as a plan of action or a framework that guides how we manage the negotiation process, informs our behaviours along the way, and equips us for influencing the other party effectively.
Why planning a negotiation approach is important
A negotiation is much more than the interaction at the formal meeting; it’s a multi-stage process that begins long before. If we prepare strategically for all the stages of negotiation – pre-negotiation, meeting, and post-negotiation – we can incorporate the most effective negotiation techniques and bargaining strategies into a plan that will withstand any challenge throughout the whole process.
For example, a bespoke negotiation framework that recognises the other party’s needs and motivations will enable us to use appropriate tactics. It will allow us to respond creatively to their tactics, purposefully deploy a variety of negotiation skills, and use our chosen negotiation strategies advantageously. We will be able to adopt a collaborative negotiation style to build long-term relationships with the other party.
On the other hand, if we stick to a traditional negotiation approach we will react to the other party’s tactics instead of responding. We’ll be caught off-guard, lose focus and miss opportunities to control the perceived power balance. And we feel out of control, our fear of losing could take over and any creativity we thought we had in reserve will vanish.
Negotiation case studies show that for optimal results, a fresh, specifically tailored approach to negotiation is important every time. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail – so why risk a valuable outcome on inadequate preparation?
The elements of an effective negotiation approach
If the first step to negotiation success is understanding the importance of planning your approach, the second step is knowing the key elements of negotiation that ensure an effective approach. The ENS methodology, drawn from over 40 years of experience around the world, identifies 5 essential elements:
- Both parties enter into negotiations to get something they want because they both have needs to be met, whether stated or hidden. If we discover the other party’s hidden needs, we can then identify our common ground and leverage it. Everything about the other party – their chosen negotiators, company information, past behaviours, personal drivers, company image – can inform an effective negotiation approach.
- While people have varying styles of negotiation, we all have an underlying set of behaviours that kick in under pressure – a ‘reflex’ behavioural style based on learned attitudes and beliefs. Behaviour styles fall into a range from ‘red’ (a highly competitive style) to ‘blue’ (a more collaborative negotiation style), and the different types of negotiation styles have different impacts. Planning our behaviour styles enables us to use them responsively and intentionally.
- Three key variables – time, place and mood – set the atmosphere, or climate, of the negotiation meeting. Choosing the duration of the meeting, its location and venue, the tone and structure of the language we’ll use, the body language we’ll adopt, even the seating arrangement in the room can all colour a negotiation climate more ‘red’ or ‘blue’ in line with our prepared strategy – rather than the other party’s.
- Tactics. The process of negotiation rides on perceptions of power – the impressions of advantage – which come from the tactics each party deploys. Like behaviour styles, tactics can be positioned along the ‘red–blue’ scale. During planning, we can choose a range of tactics designed to both resist the other party’s challenges and make them doubt their own strategies, while not selecting tactics purposefully will put us at the mercy of the other party’s planning.
- Phases. Commonly, a negotiation unfolds in a pattern of 4 separate phases:
- Introduction (set the scene, explore the relationship)
- Differentiation (explore differences between the parties)
- Integration (review alternative options for solving issues)
- Settlement (make final offers, lock in agreement).
Factoring these phases into our approach enables us to leverage each one to take the lead in the negotiation process. Otherwise, we may try to deploy tactics at an inopportune time or from reaction, rather than strategic response.
Learn more about new approaches to negotiation
At ENS, we know that our psychology-based, ‘win/win’ philosophy of integrative negotiations can transform you into a highly skilled negotiator. Through experiential workshops and negotiation training delivered both online and face-to-face, you will discover examples of negotiation strategies, learn about different styles of negotiation, rethink your traditional negotiation approach and realise you can achieve more than you ever thought possible.
Becoming a highly skilled negotiator through the unique, sophisticated ENS methodology will open up your business career. Book into an ENS training course today and discover how to develop the most effective negotiation approach every time.