How to negotiate successfully

Published: 07 Jul 2016

Negotiation is part of everyday life and it’s vital to the success of all businesses. My book starts by noting that negotiation has “delivered peace in war, resolved bedtime tantrums with our children, helped to avoid millions of court cases and has probably helped to save a few marriages along the way, too. It is how you resolve differences and form agreements based on mutually acceptable terms. It can represent the difference between viability and insolvency.”

Most people believe that they are good at negotiating, so it’s not easy to recommend ways to do it more effectively. The Negotiation Book suggests that people need to be motivated to adopt different ideas and improve their skills in this discipline. The book offers numerous real examples
of commercial negotiation and the many lessons that can be learnt from these, but it maintains all along that there is no right or wrong approach. It’s all about applying the most appropriate approach to the circumstances.

I introduce the “clock face” model and explain how each of the varied negotiating strategies it presents can be relevant. Their applicability depends on whom you are talking to, the level of trust and the complexity of the discussion. For instance, 1pm is bartering, while 4pm is hard
bargaining and 11pm is relationship-building. This model offers a unique way of looking at how negotiations play out and why they can often shift, putting an agreement, and all that it’s worth, at risk. The problem that many people face is that they want to stick to their preferred way of negotiating, based on their personal values.

This is not a “win-win” book; it’s one that acknowledges human irrationality under pressure and shows how maintaining an idealistic approach to negotiation rarely helps, given the complexity of most relationships. For instance, being collaborative and creative is appropriate in many situations, yet it can expose you when the person on the other side of the table
holds considerable power in the relationship and does not adopt the same approach.

I also look at the psychology of negotiation, perceptions of power and the
impact that pressure and dilemmas have on the participants. Ego and emotion are tackled head on as being dangerous distractions that prevent many negotiations from reaching a successful conclusion.

Ultimately, the total value of the deal should be your main focus in a negotiation. Understanding both the tangible issues on the balance sheet as well as the value of more subjective issues – for instance, risk, convenience and exclusivity – should be at the forefront of your mind. I hope that my
book encourages you to become a more prepared negotiator and provides a practical framework for maximising value.

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