Monday, October 22, 2012

Helping the Other Party in a Negotiation

Jim Sebenius has written an interesting new working paper.  Sebenius is a negotiations professor at Harvard Business School.   Sebenius argues that a good negotiator thinks about the other party's "behind-the-table" barriers.   In other words, what challenges may the other party face within their own organization?  What pressures are they feeling?  How will they be judged by their organization?  We can succeed in achieving a successful outcome if we seek to understand the other party's "internal negotiation problem." Why?  The other party will be more likely to agree to a negotiated solution if it helps them achieve certain internal goals and overcome certain internal obstacles that they face.   What then should a person be doing in the early stages a negotiation process?  Learning!  You should be trying to understand the other party's internal predicament, constraints, and pressures.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Try to appreciate the ways in which they will be judged, rewarded, and perhaps punished based on the outcome of this negotiation.   Moreover, you should seek to understand how you might help the other side "save face" if the solution involves certain "bitter medicine" for his or her organization. 

3 comments:

Bret Simmons said...

I really like this advice, Michael. I am getting ready to enter into a negotiation tomorrow and I've tried to set myself up to get what I want by first asking others how I can help them get what they want. Thanks, Bret

Andy Kaufman, PMP said...

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Allan Cohen regarding his book Influence Without Authority. The Cohen-Bradford model has a related step which they call Diagnose the world of the other person.

My experience is similar to what you discuss in this post, Michael. By doing some homework ahead of time it can keep us from getting blindsided as well as approach the influencing/negotiating situation in a more relevant way for the other person. Thanks for the reminder!

city said...

thanks for sharing..