How to Negotiate in Tough Situations

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In 1998, The Power of Nice: How To Negotiate So Everyone Wins- Especially You!, by Ronald Shapiro and Mark Jankowski, was one of the top 10 “On the Job” business books. Shapiro was a sports agent before writing his book, and he subsequently started the Shapiro Negotiations Institute to help professionals understand the keys to good negotiations.

This is an undervalued and under-discussed part of business. Most professionals, regardless of whether they are self-employed or work for a corporation, will have to negotiate with vendors, clients, sales prospects, or perhaps even managers or co-workers. Everyone wants to create a “win-win,” state that this book hopes to help you achieve. 

By breaking down a negotiation into three distinct phases, Shapiro describes a method that will help reduce anxiety and increase the odds of a successful outcome in almost any negotiation:

Prepare: Preparation is the first step in any negotiation. Shapiro breaks down the steps you need to take before your first meeting. He advises the reader to explore precedents (how much have similar deals “cost”), to consider the strengths and weaknesses of both parties, to assess the impact of deadlines on the negotiation (is there a “time sensitive” element for either party), and much more. After walking through the steps, Shapiro suggests putting all the research and decisions on paper. 

Probe: It's no secret that more information will lead to better success. However, the emotion of a negotiation can often cause people to stop listening to the other side. If you followed the first step, you've got a plan in writing for what a successful outcome means to you. You should also have enough information to develop good probing questions before your meeting.

Again, Shapiro recommends writing down your questions prior to meeting. In addition, he cautions that you need to make sure you're hearing what the other side is saying that may either contradict or complement your research. 

Propose, but Not Too Fast: Shapiro also discusses the power of acting second in a negotiation, letting the other side make the first offer. This goes hand-in-hand with the last step. Hearing the value the other side is placing on an offer gives you a good idea of what they think.

In addition, in complex deals, you'll get an idea of the relative worth of each individual point of the negotiation (up-front money vs. long-term value, time to execute, etc.). The book offers advice on how to encourage the other side to make the first offer, as well as what to do if they will not make the first offer.

The Power of Nice: How To Negotiate So Everyone Wins- Especially You! has great tools for business professionals. In addition to separate sections on dealing with difficult negotiators and negotiating from a position of weakness, the book has tools, worksheets, and checklists to help you prepare. This systematic approach can help take the emotion out of negotiations, make everyone more confident, and help you be more pleased with the results of your negotiations in the future.


photo credit: chiptape via photopin cc

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