The photo above shows the group of mainly professional content experts who speak, train and consult to deliver their expertise. Included were dealmakers, and business owners used to dealing with millions of their own and other people’s money. It was a great day of fun, learning, and sobering self-discovery. The little blue books lifted high are the Quick Reference Guides that summarise key points in the 2-day programme. More pertinently, the workshop gave me some time to think about several negotiation myths that need busting – if you want to succeed in 2013.
So here they are:
1) You have to be ‘tough’ in negotiations to ‘win’
Busted – you can be ‘tough’ and win, but it is unlikely you will do business with the same people ever again. Companies who have come in from a strong bargaining position and ‘squeezed’ their suppliers, have found this principle out to their cost. So, in a negotiation, factors like the deal design and the set up come into play; including issues like – will the deal be repeatable? And are you dealing with the right party in the right circumstances? If you do the set-up perfectly, and deal allows both parties to gain great value, you don’t have to be anywhere near ‘tough’ to do well.
2) women aren’t really good at negotiations
Really? Once negotiations begin, there are not many differences in gender. However, research ( see Babcock) show that the big issue is that many women don’t even choose to negotiate many times. When asked to describe a metaphor for negotiations, most men in a study said ” It’s like a ball game” – while most women said,” Like going to the dentist”……..But when they do negotiate, they impart greater interaction to the situation (International Studies Quarterly 2009); and often bring value to a negotiation.
3) We should always aim at getting a “win-win” solution
Nope – not necessarily so if you do not think the relationship is worth preserving, or if there will be a need to repeat the negotiation. In such cases, there could be just to go for a win-lose situation, taking most of the value in a negotiation for oneself. That being said, most businesses are interdependent, and regular use of such an approach will likely be counterproductive. I always teach how to look for a “mostly-win-mostly-win” scenario. if parties can be imaginative, both might walk away with more than what they had expected.