“…at the end of the day, negotiation is always fundamentally about human interaction.” – Professor Deepak Malhotra (Harvard Business School)
Whether it be with colleagues, clients or your boss, negotiation is something that we all need to do in the workplace. In fact, every relationship we’re involved with, personal or professional, involves some form of negotiation. We often negotiate without even realising it. At work, the need to negotiate can arise from disputes, making deals or simply as a part of usual working practices.
However, when it comes to the term ‘negotiation’, many people associate the word with things like ‘winning’, making the best deal possible for ourselves, and moving on; or taking everything we can from a situation at the expense of the other party. This is known as a competitive approach to negotiation, and creative solutions are rarely found. When it comes to competitive negotiation, both parties often end up losing, or taking away much less from the negotiation than was necessary.
On the other hand, a collaborative approach to negotiation happens when both parties seek to find an agreement that is acceptable or beneficial to both sides. Creative solutions are often found when they are sought out and neither party is selfishly approaching the discussion. This approach is more beneficial, and an important skill we should all seek to master.
Being a collaborative negotiator does not mean being weak or giving in. On the contrary, a collaborative approach seeks to gain the best possible solution for all.
Our negotiating in the workplace e-learning course offers a structured approach to negotiating that would be beneficial for all employees in your business. Negotiating skills are critical to career success, and with the help of our clear, step-by-step approach, employees can learn and develop their skills over time.
Before you explore our resources to learn how to be a successful collaborative negotiator, maybe you need some more convincing as to why this practice is invaluable.
Trust and Control
When you employ a structured approach to negotiation, you feel much more in control of the situation. Not only will this stop you from rushing into accepting an outcome that may not be ideal, but it will also make you more confident to seek what you want. A structured guide to negotiating limits the risks of striking a hasty solution.
With more control, you can take time to develop a relationship with the other party. This is a key element of collaborative negotiation. Being as open as possible (granted, some situations require limited disclosure of information) helps to eliminate suspicion and create trust between parties. Whilst some negotiation instincts tell us to behave like we’re playing a game of poker, being clear about your needs and end goals can help both teams achieve a positive outcome.
When we are open about our end goals, we can work together to treat the negotiation like a problem needing to be solved. By laying out the individual needs and desires on the table, we can take an objective and collaborative approach to negotiating an outcome.
Walking away from a competitive negotiation can feel unsatisfying. Even when we walk away as winners, it tarnishes the results knowing it was at someone else’s expense – especially when it is within your business. Being able to collaborate and find a solution that creates gain for both parties feels significantly more satisfying.
There is almost always a solution that benefits both sides of any negotiation, and by laying out needs and working together to find solutions, there is an increased likelihood of better results.
‘Winning’ a competitive negotiation does not always mean you have the best results possible, as the back-and-forth dispute can wear down your outcomes. Collaborative transparency ensures you understand your desired outcomes, and the controlled and trusting approach helps you stay on track to meet those as best as possible.
At its core, collaborative negotiation is about building and maintaining strong relationships. Where competitive negotiating creates rivalry, collaboration builds relationships that can be beneficial to both parties in the long-term.
This approach has its challenges, as it works best when both parties are taking the collaborative route. Sometimes, perhaps with clients or competitors, others may try to take advantage of your transparency and trust. Remaining calm and being assertive is the best way to deal with this type of situation. You can still seek to collaborate by understanding their needs and offering an olive branch where possible. You can be collaborative and still stand your ground.
Ready to learn how to do it, and encourage your employees to do the same? Our negotiating in the workplace e-learning course provides learners with all the tools and techniques they need to manage effective negotiations, helping them to identify potential issues and alternatives, build rapport and other useful techniques. Ultimately, they become effective at navigating fair and honest negotiations that lead to success through a structured step-by-step method.