The ability to hold successful negotiations is possibly one of the most important skills you can possess as an entrepreneur. Quite often, disruptive entrepreneurs are always meeting with many challenges mostly from persons fearful of change. Unfortunate for the entrepreneur is that these persons usually are the ones who occupy positions of influence. Resultantly, for you to have your way in a manner acceptable to those with different perceptions you will have to negotiate in one way or the other. There is no doubting the fact that opportunities and requirements for negotiation and persuasion will always present themselves daily. You can thus imagine the increased chances of having things go your way if you master the art of negotiating. In this article, therefore, I attempt to have a quick look at some of the key pointers in negotiations.
What Is Negotiation
Negotiation can loosely be defined as a discussion between two or more parties who must cooperate to achieve their respective and otherwise diverging goals. Some would want to look at negotiation as a means by which two people attempt to come at an agreement through discussions in the midst of conflicting interests. Engaging in such a discussion would be preferable when compared to other means of solving disputes such as open fighting, just giving in or even completely breaking off contact. While this is the fact of negotiation, you also need to take note that when interested parties are not working together to reach an agreement in a discussion, the essence of negotiation becomes absent. The essence of negotiation, therefore, is to ensure that parties involved have to agree no matter how diverging their viewpoints and goals are. In the process of coming to agreeable terms, as a negotiator, three factors have been proposed as being critical for a successful negotiation encounter.
Time is a scarce resource which often makes us panic from the instance we realise that we no longer have much of it left for our use. When you approach a negotiation you should have a clear understanding of the time perspective and how it can affect your results. Some would urge one to always try and get clues about the time perspective and deadlines of the other party. There are always deadlines set against the completion of any task or project. On your part as a negotiator, you are not required to reveal your deadlines to the other side, if you do happen to have one. Revealing this will make you vulnerable especially if your concerns have surfaced just before the deadline. However, the most important factor in anything is that you cannot achieve the best outcome quickly hence you should be as patient as possible if you do want to have the best of results trickling to your end.
Broadly speaking, information is key in our day to day lives and more so in the life of an entrepreneur. You could be intending to purchase inputs for your factory and the lack of information as to where such inputs can be sourced at affordable prices. Among other things, this might cause you to burn out your budget way before you intend to. This suggests that you need to have as much information as humanly possible to avoid such pitfalls incurring unnecessary cost. In negotiation, the more information you have about the other side the better of it will be for you. You could be negotiating with a supplier of raw materials and you realise that they need you to purchase because they need that many to service a debt account. Without factoring in compassion, you could use this to bargain for a lower price. The reverse is equally true in situations where you do not want the other side to have information about you.
The process of gathering this information can be looked at as vital before any negotiation encounter. It is encouraged that you perform your research diligently as you strive to gain as much information about the other party as possible. You should take note that to get information from someone you also have to give out information unless you are holding the other party at gunpoint. Hence, when you give out information to the other person always be on the lookout for unintentional cues which could either be verbal or behavioural these will work well in informing you about the other person.
Power can loosely be defined as the ability to exercise influence and/or act over others and this is greatly needed in the process of negotiating. While the whole idea on power has overtime received bad connotations it should be acknowledged that the abuse of power is the only factor deserving all the rebuke levelled against power. In negotiations, power is an important ingredient where various types of power can be used to influence an outcome. The most common types of power are about the position in which one occupies in any given setting. In this regard, you could be an employee with an entrepreneurial mind thus seeking to negotiate for your idea to take up by your superiors in your organisation. Knowing who has the final say in decision making can thus be beneficial to you since you can attune your proposal in a manner that excites the respective decision-maker.
Knowledge or expertise yielded by a person or party is also another facet to power which has to be paid attention to in the process of negotiating. While the adage has it that knowledge is power, it may well be said that it is actually the application of knowledge which forms the basis of power. As has been mentioned above, information is key in any negotiation process and this regard, information builds knowledge and the same knowledge may be used against you if you are too quick at letting the cat out. This also points at a person`s character or behavioural style where it is largely believed that individuals are seen as trustworthy always have an upper hand in the negotiation process.
Having said the above, it may well be pointed out that as you commence into your entrepreneurial journey you will meet many hurdles and stumbling blocks. Where human beings are involved, your ability to negotiate on your behalf will prove to be your only limiting factor in the attainment of your desired goals. Hence, you are encouraged that you take your time to study and master the art of negotiating where your starting point can be reading the book by Herb Cohen, titled Negotiate This.