Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.
Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.

The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter June 2006

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The occasional newsletter of
The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc. (TNSC)

Number 35, June 2006

The occasional newsletter of The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc. (TNSC)

Information Is The Fundamental Asset In Negotiation

Negotiation is all about exchange; people (or organizations represented by people) bargain over who acquires what bargaining chips. Ultimately a successful negotiation process yields an agreement regarding the distribution of things that parties to the negotiation hope to gain from other parties.

People will argue that negotiation generally focuses on price, on value, on who gets what. Each of those propositions is true, especially when applied to specific negotiations. The items of value that can be exchanged range from national boundaries to 'bragging rights' when parents succeed at convincing their child's football/soccer coach to let their kid play rather than sit on the bench. In business negotiation can cover design, delivery, price, intellectual property, which unit of a company gains leadership of a particular project - or how much a person is paid.

However, in each of these situations, before negotiation begins and before agreement can be reached the negotiating parties need to learn some - or many - things. Just thinking about the preliminaries, we must become at least somewhat knowledgeable about a variety of factors:

  • How do I define my needs, my objectives, and my interests? Do stakeholders who depend on me agree with my definitions?
  • Who - or what organizations - can provide good solutions responding to my needs?
  • If multiple parties offer what appears to be what I want, how do I choose among them, with whom does it make most sense to negotiate?
  • Once a choice is made, I need to understand as much as possible about the decision-making process of potential negotiation partners. Among other things, if one person says "Yes", does that mean the deal will be fulfilled?
  • How much time am I prepared to invest in the negotiation process?
  • Does it make sense to conduct discussions with more than one potential supplier/customer/organization at a time?
  • What benchmarks should I use prior to, during, and after negotiating to determine whether the process is going to work?

    This list of preliminary questions is open to considerable expansion. Similarly, during the negotiation process, we are on a constant fact-finding mission:
  • What indications are there that I've made the right choice of negotiation partner?
  • How accurate were the assumptions I made about other parties' capacity or willingness to deliver?
  • Is the strategy I adopted working favorably or should I rethink the whole process or specific tactical elements?
  • Has a negotiation partner surprised me - and is the surprise good or bad in terms of my interests?
  • Should I walk away from a particular negotiation partner - or have I discovered I need them more than they need me?
  • Have I found out what value other parties place on things I have to offer - or the extent of my capacity to influence their decisions?
  • Has the information exchanged provided leads towards creative approaches that may increase the value of the negotiation's outcome for the parties?

    The answers to these, and the many more questions that arise in the negotiation process, can all be described by a single word: information. Whether we are learning about the price range within which a deal is likely to be reached, the role of ego in a negotiator's decision-making, or whether details included in the discussions contribute to the decision-making process or are simply meant to mislead us, in each case we are gaining information that contributes to our capacity to reach a wise conclusion.

    If knowledge is power, and the acquisition of information is the means to gain knowledge, then we must remember to treat each negotiation as a forum for the exchange of information to enable us to arrive at informed, wise, effective agreements. After all, information is the one asset that is exchanged in every single negotiation.

    TNSC's Activities

    TNSC's programs continue to be presented to clients in a broad range of business sectors from around the world.

    Recently a client said, "TNSC builds mastery of universal tools that yield powerful results."

    Check our website for descriptions of Fighting Fires Without Burning Bridgessm , our flagship two-day program, Building Bridges&cop; -- TNSC's one-day program for clients needing a shorter seminar, Tactical Choices for Strategic Influencing - a short module focused on bringing about buy-in to agreement. TNSC also provides executive coaching, back-up assistance for current negotiations, and a variety of other services.

    As one of our long-time clients has told us, "You guys do it best!"

    With members of our professional team located in North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia, TNSC provides truly global "World class" (another client's words) services. Let us know if you would like more details for your company or organization.

    Quotation of the moment

    When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

    Enjoy your negotiations,
    Steven P. Cohen, President
    The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.

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    The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.   P O Box 172   Pride's Crossing, MA 01965, USA   
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