4 Obstacles to Successful Negotiation
Successful negotiation should never be a gamble! Effective negotiators are logical thinkers and can change their communication style to meet their objectives.
In their book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton describe four obstacles that stop the exploration of multiple options.
Going into a complex negotiation with your mind made up means that you might miss something that could be ideal, if it is given some consideration. Having your mind made up will interfere with imagination, creativity, and real problem solving.
Be open to ideas and do some brainstorming with colleagues or your committee beforehand. While this kind of creative exercise may not feel natural to you, it does reflect the need for great ideas to be a springboard for conversation and the perpetuation of the business (or whatever it is that you are negotiating).
Searching For the Single Outcome:
Human nature makes us critical, and if we become cynical about negotiation, we may just want to get in and out of the meeting as quickly as we can. By searching or aiming for just one best answer, you exclude every other possibility. You might leave better answers outside of consideration.
Give consideration to other approaches (such as brainstorming, formal problem solving, and negotiating in a pleasant location) to open people’s minds, including the other party. If that’s not possible, you could also solicit the advice of experts in the area.
For example, there is plenty of discussion in schools about providing healthy lunches. If we eliminate junk food machines and options on the school ground, do students leave the grounds to look for unhealthy options within their neighborhood? If so, how do we respond as a community?
Consultation with nutritionists, social workers, the business community, students, parents, and teachers can all result in feasible, healthy, and manageable solutions.
The Fixed Pie:
A third problem with creative solutions lies with a fixed pie. This is the assumption that the more I get from a deal, the less there is for you. This is rarely true, since both sides could
clearly be worse off than they are now, but the idea of it still interferes with negotiation.
Consider that there is shared interest in negotiating (otherwise the two parties would not be speaking to each other), and at the same time is the potential for shared gain. If we operate
together, what is the potential for future growth or benefit for both parties? If I want to negotiate the price of my car, and wish to pay less, but you are able to upsell me on the paint and rust protection in addition to an extended warranty, we both benefit.
Solving Their Problem is Their Problem:
Another truth of human nature is that we are usually only concerned with our own problems, and we want the other party to solve their own problems. However, to really achieve that agreement, the negotiator has to appeal to the other party. If the negotiator(s) get tunnel vision, the result is only going to appeal to one side. That can lead to an agreement that comes unraveled, or in the case of collective bargaining, does not get ratified by the membership.