The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter September 2008
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The occasional newsletter of
The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc. (TNSC)
Number 41, September 2008
FIGHTING FIRES WITHOUT BURNING BRIDGES(sm)
The occasional newsletter of The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc. (TNSC)
If everyone were the same, if every factory produced identical goods, if every professional had the same skills, negotiation would be less likely to yield additional value to the negotiating parties. Life would be boring if every restaurant menu was the same, if we lived in the world posited by Henry Ford. When he was asked what colors people could choose for their Model T Ford automobiles, Mr. Ford's response was simple: "Anything they want, as long as it's black."
Product and service differentiation are key drivers of the market economy. When we want to acquire something, our decisions may be heavily influenced by price - especially if that is the only differentiator. Looking for additional factors upon which to base decisions might seem to make life a bit more complicated - but basing choices on a multitude of factors is likely to increase the degree to which a given result is satisfactory.
Our choices of friends or business associates may happen by chance. However each of us has a choice of how close relationships may become and how much we rely on business colleagues. This is particularly true when we choose people with whom to negotiate. Someone who adds value, who brings things to the table that might never have occurred to us is far more appealing than someone who is consistently predictable and from whom we have no reason to expect anything special.
Each person's success as a negotiator, as a contributor to agreements, depends heavily on whether others view them as someone who can add value to the process - or to the relationship. People with a reputation for creativity, for out-of-the-box thinking that contributes to the quality of a negotiation's result are far more likely to be sought after as negotiation partners. They add value.
One of our many jobs as negotiators is to make the best choice of negotiation partners. Choosing someone who we anticipate will add value to the proposition increases the likelihood the negotiation process will be a worthwhile use of our time.
The greater challenge is to do everything we can to be someone who can add value to the negotiation process - and outcome. Having a reputation as a value-adder increases the likelihood others will seek to work with us - and a value-adder reputation also has the potential to contribute to both our professional and personal success in our collaborative decision-making activities.
We've got to figure out how to get there from here; it is hard to imagine that we can simply stand in front of a mirror and transmogrify ourselves into a value-adder by sheer force of will. One crucial way to enhance the likely value we can offer others comes from doing an excellent job of preparation. By figuring out every possible person or organization that has a stake in a negotiation's outcome - and then making the most realistic possible assumptions of their interests - we should be able to see possibilities for adding value ahead of time. Preparation yields competence which yields confidence - and enhances our ability to bring added value to the process.
One other way to add value is to step away from our normal areas of competence - to use an 'out of the box' perspective when we advise friends, family members, and colleagues on issues that are not a normal part of our lives. We must be careful not to act as if we think we're experts. Rather, the sensible approach is to ask questions.
If our questions help others to look beyond 'Standard Operating Procedures', we may help trigger their creativity and in so doing add value to the situation. It is not necessarily our answers that lead to more desirable results, but rather our questions that can do so.
We continue working across North America, Southeast Asia, and Europe, providing world-class negotiation skills training for corporations from almost every business sector. In addition, TNSC has continued our practice of coaching business executives involved in transactions involving both large and small numbers of stakeholders. Please let us know if you would like more information about the services we offer.
Robert Kennedy said, "Some see the world and ask 'Why?' I look at the world and ask 'Why not?'"
Good luck and good negotiating,
Steven P. Cohen, President
The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.
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