The drama and theatrics one sees during conflict and confrontations easily leads one to believe that victory lies in persuasiveness, eloquence, and clever maneuvering. What good courtroom drama would be without these critical factors for entertainment? While these elements may be the enjoyable part for some negotiators, and certainly are the entertaining portions for observers, they are not the keys to negotiation workshop success.
This next quote was so important in Essentials of Negotiation by Lewicki, Saunders, Barry, and Minton that the authors italicized it. I point this out because I want you to pay attention to this closely, "The foundation for success in negotiation is not in the game playing or the dramatics. The dominant force for success in negotiation is in the planning that takes place prior to the dialogue."
Yes, the tactics learned during a negotiation workshop are important, and success is also influenced by how you react to the other side and implement your own negotiation strategy. However, the foundation for success is planning.
In the Essentials of Negotiation the authors set forth areas to focus on during effective planning for both distributive and integrative negotiations. I want to briefly share and comment on them.
1. Defining the Issues. Analyze the negotiation workshop and define the issues to be discussed. The more detailed, the better.
2. Assembling the Issues and Defining the Bargaining Mix. Assemble the issues that have been defined into a comprehensive list. The combination of lists from each side of the negotiation workshop determines the bargaining mix. Large bargaining mixes allow for many possible components and arrangements for settlement. However, large bargaining mixes can also lengthen negotiations because of the volume to consider. Therefore, the issues must be prioritized.
3. Defining Your Interests. After you have defined the issues, you should define the underlying interests and needs. Remember, a negotiation workshop is what a negotiator wants. Interests are why you want them. Asking "why" questions will help define interests.
4. Knowing Your Limits and Alternatives. Limits are the point where you stop the negotiation rather than continue. Settlements beyond this point are not acceptable. You need to know your walk-away point. Alternatives are other deals you could achieve and still meet your needs. The better alternatives you have, the more power you have during the negotiation workshop.
5. Setting Targets and Openings. The target point is where you realistically expect to achieve a settlement in the negotiation workshop. You can determine your target by asking what outcome you would be comfortable with, or at what point would you be satisfied. The opening bid or asking price usually represents the best you can hope to achieve. One must be cautious in inflating opening bids to the point where they become self-defeating because they are too unrealistic.
6. Assessing My Constituents. When negotiating in a professional context, there are most likely many parties to the negotiation workshop. Things to consider include the direct actors, the opposite actors, indirect actors, interested observers, and environmental factors.
7. Analyzing the Other Party. Meeting with the other party allows you to learn what issues are important to them. Things to consider include their current resources, interests, and needs. In addition, consider their objectives, alternatives, negotiation style, authority, and likely strategy and tactics in the negotiation workshop.
There are many different planning templates. Each emphasizes different negotiation workshop elements in different sequences. These ten areas represent what the authors of "Essentials of Negotiation" believe to be the important steps in the planning process.