Although nearly everything in life is negotiable, few people either understand the nuances of the art and science of negotiating, or enroll in negotiation seminars to adequately prepare themselves for negotiations. However, in one of life's ironies, it appears that negotiating is often considered easy and many people believe that anyone can negotiate. There are many simple and basic examples from everyday life that clearly demonstrate the need to be a better negotiator, from the car buying and home buying processes, to wage negotiations, etc. While these circumstances certainly put some individuals at a competitive disadvantage, the results are generally personal, and thus not that impacting on larger groups or society. When organizations which have sent their people to negotiation seminars are in negotiating situations, how well they handle these circumstances often dictates their eventual success or failure.
In my more than thirty years as a professional negotiator, I have learned how essential negotiations are. Many inexperienced negotiators, those who have not taken negotiation seminars, falsely believe that a negotiation is a contest, where one party needs to best the other. In fact, the best possible scenario is invariably when the negotiations end up being win- win (meaning both sides are content with the result). In many cases, the victories are far more subtle, and while one side gets what it wants and feels it needs, the other side is also satisfied.
1. One of the best examples comes from the event planning world, where an event/ conference organizer is dealing with a hotel. In order to get the best result, the organizer must first do his homework, and understand the needs of the hotel, and what it seeks and needs. Some inexperienced negotiators push too hard for certain concessions that may be harmful to the hotel. What invariably occurs is either the hotel terminates the discussions, resolutely refuses, or in a weakened state, agrees because they desperately need the business. When the last scenario occurs, the hotel will often adopt an inflexible attitude after the contract is signed, and thus the group generally loses in other areas. When there are open and honest discussions, the kind advocated in negotiation seminars, and the group explains its budget, what it needs, etc., and permits the hotel to suggest alternatives (for example, serving in specific rooms, tweaking menus, piggybacking other groups menus to create economies of scale for the hotel, etc.), the optimum resolution to the negotiations often results. For this to occur, however, the group's negotiator, especially one who has prepared by negotiation seminars, must be totally prepared and know the group's needs in advance, such as audio- visual requirements, special dietary needs, guest room needs, etc. When the two negotiators build their relationship based on mutual trust and respect, negotiations have the best chance of being resolved to both sides satisfaction.
2. Many groups falsely believe that they save monies by doing their own negotiating rather than hiring a professional negotiator. While occasionally that is the case (for example, if the group happens to have in- house a qualified and experienced negotiator who has sharpened his/her skills in negotiation seminars), in most cases, a professional negotiator will attain results which will end up best serving the group's needs. One caveat, however, is that the group or organization must carefully interview the professional negotiator, and clearly make sure he understands the needs and the group's philosophy. Like in most consulting situations, many claim to be experts, but few can and do actually deliver. For example, in my years of negotiating professionally, I have found that I will generally save a group at least 30%, which is often the difference between the event being a rousing success or a dismal failure.
Negotiations are essential, and the most groups that utilize proficient, skilled and expert negotiators who adds value from their experience in negotiation seminars generally save time, money, aggravation, as well as ending up with a far better overall situation.