Humility is the key to getting what you want in business negotiations. Adopt the perceptions of others because folks will shut down if you don’t.
A master negotiator is an artist with a penchant for science. The artistry comes first as the best of them will exact their objective with subtleties of vocal inflection, body language and a little touch of something best described as interpersonal magic that only comes with experience. The science credit comes with critical thinking skills and the ability to meticulously analyze people and situations at a speed that mere mortals can only admire…and hope to emulate.
The lines should never be blurred between aiming to become a skilled negotiator and snaking your agenda through the fingers of those with whom you bargain through unscrupulous manipulation (then brag about it). Con men only get so far. Ultimately, no one aligns with or roots for the villain or the braggart. Whether you are a high-powered, white-collar executive negotiating a raise, a parent negotiating bedtime with a red-faced three-year old…or if you’ve had it with threats of corporate layoffs and are thinking about running your own business, lead your negotiations with the perceptions, feelings and objectives of the other party and let those help you pursue your agenda.
If you do not become fully-versed in the objectives of those from whom you hope to gain something, you have no point at which to begin and they will not be a receptive audience anyway because they will feel subject to perceived manipulation. Guards go up immediately when people start pushing an agenda, especially if we sense that they believe we have no clue. We are taught, from childhood, to play fairly and we respect others when they give us the feeling that they are doing just that.
Real-life scenarios that teach us the importance of THEIR perception…
Not all negotiations require you to put your IQ to the test with deep analysis, but you must always be artful and able to judge situations, even if your objectives are simple. For instance, you could buy cheap tickets to a concert (let’s say Dave Matthews Band) and decide you’re going to charm your way to 2nd row, center. First, you have to choose the right usher, maybe avoiding tough looking women and the guy who carries a “terminator” air about him. After making him laugh, you could tell him that it’s your “first time” and he’d be your hero if he could use his authority to plant you closer to your favorite band.
Lesson: People enjoy playing the hero role and don’t mind flexing their authority in exchange for some awe and admiration. Emotions play a role in negotiations of all kinds, even the biggest deals. If you pick your usher wisely, you will get that seating upgrade and you will have done it with on-the-level negotiations. You get the upgrade and the usher gets his ego stroked through confirmation that he’s the hero in the situation.
On the other hand, when you force your agenda without regard to others’ feelings or perceptions, you’re going to turn them off before you start. Imagine hanging out with a friend who invited you to lunch just to have some Mexican food and catch up. You are enjoying yourselves until her face changes and she “eases” into a pitch to sell you make-up or homeopathy, but tries to camouflage the pitch. Maybe they get you to bite, but a lot of the time, you want to say, “Oh. This wasn’t about our friendship. You invited me out to sell me lavender oil or face cream and you think I don’t realize I’m getting a sales pitch.” But, maybe you’re merciful and politely navigate the pitch and finish eating. You probably don’t buy a thing purely on the annoying feeling that she betrayed your perception of the get together and insults your intelligence by barreling forward as if you don’t recognize the bait and switch.
Lesson: Keep it real. If you do not value what the other party envisions in their heads, you’re intent to gain something will overpower the exchange and feel like a shakedown. Instant turn-off. Negotiations are over and a nice blow to your reputation is thrown into the mix.
Make the connection feel human THEN get to the nuts and bolts of the deal
Whether in personal or business affairs, if you want to get something, you have to be willing to give; but first you need to know what to give, no matter what the point of negotiations. It doesn’t have to be cash, but it has to speak to the essential wants or needs of the other party. This is why being a captive audience is crucial because the more you learn about what tickles their fancy, the more you have to offer in exchange for what you want. What parent hasn’t incentivized their kid with extra time on Minecraft in exchange for a clean room? In business, depending on the size of the negotiation, you could make headway towards your objective with coveted tickets to a sporting event, a gift card; or even the non-material things that show respect or help give them an edge will help, from insider advice, discounts for referrals or grateful appreciation through public thanks online.
Negotiating as a long-established and respected franchisor proves that size and endurance matters when it comes to getting results
Minuteman Press International leads the modern printing industry in part due to the sheer power of the brand when it comes to negotiating beneficial deals on behalf of its nearly 1000 franchise owners around the world. Minuteman Press franchise complaints do not exist in this realm of negotiating advantages such as mass purchase agreements with the numerous vendors needed to construct an award-winning franchise.
Jim Galasso represents the corporation as a Regional Vice President for the NY/NJ/CT area. He defines successful negotiations, generally, as it should be, a win/win. In his words, “Negotiating an arrangement between two parties should not be a win or lose situation but a win-win. Sometimes it’s best to have a third party involved to prevent what may be an insult to the buyer or the seller. I’ve been told that a successful negotiation is when a buyer feels they paid too little and a seller feels they sold it for too much.”
Jim adds a truth about franchising that attracts a lot of entrepreneurs who seek allies with serious negotiation skills, “At Minuteman Press, since we have so much purchasing power, we not only get the best negotiated pricing for our owners, but the service we get is outstanding from our vendors.”
“I’ve grown up a little bit. I understand the importance of the negotiation. It is a collective act.” -Thom Mayne (American architect)
When it comes to charming your way to the front of a concert venue in your time off or in business, securing key contracts or raises as desired, leading the way with the other parties’ needs and perceptions as a guide is the way to go. For entrepreneurs who wish to put experienced mentors into the hot seat to work out agreements to their advantage, franchising with a preeminent franchisor is the way to go. Overall, if you forget trying to be a “master” negotiator and instead proceed with humility as you offer respect, compromise and a willingness to seek partnership with allies as needed, you’ll likely get what you want with greater ease.