April 27, 2018

The consequence of winning

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Today I met someone who said something about negotiation that struck me as misguided: ‘I must be a great negotiator because I always get what I want.’ That can be taken many ways, perhaps as a warning (it was said at the end of our very first meeting about a project we are to work on together) or as a trite off-the-cuff remark. Or perhaps this person simply believes that negotiation is all about getting what you want.

I won’t bore you with the background, but I genuinely believe it was said with the latter in mind. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, maybe. Negotiation is about getting (some of) what you want, but it also about giving something to the other side (some of what they want). It is not a one-way affair; it is very much a two-way collaboration.

The very definition of negotiation is the process by which I get something I want from someone who wants something from me.

It is not a demand, an instruction, a coercion or an extortion. In negotiation, we exchange wants to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Either side or both sides can say no at any point if the deal doesn’t work for them. Getting what you want can be part of the deal – but only part.

Ask yourself this. You have two clients, both of equal value to your business. One negotiated well and you have a good deal with them; the other pushed you very hard and you ended up doing a very poor deal. One week both these clients need your skills/services/products immediately for an emergency situation. You can only give one client your ‘A’ team, so which client do you choose to give the very best skills/services/products to?

Getting everything you want is not always a good thing in negotiation when we have to live with the consequences. Remember to think about what the other party is getting too. After all, you never know when you might just need that little bit extra from your suppliers.

My response today is, ‘Negotiation is about living with the consequences of the deals you do.’

Do you agree?