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.