The other day we spoke about the fact that leaders should know when to negotiate and when not to negotiate. Sometimes negotiation is not just the right tactic. The question is when do you negotiate? I’d like to suggest six points that you should consider when you’re thinking of negotiating.
1. You negotiate when you share something in common. Negotiation demands at least an inkling of common ground. Sometimes there is no common ground at all. Without common ground, you don’t have a base and nothing much to talk about. First and foremost, you need to share something in common. This doesn’t mean that you share everything, but at least you have a beachhead.
2. You negotiate when you have the time to negotiate. Negotiation takes time, and you have to calculate if you are better off taking action without negotiation because time is against you. There are times when the delay that formal negotiations will create makes the process not worth it. Sometimes, the time invested in the negotiations may not be worth it….
3. You negotiate when it’s clear you don’t have the ability to get your own way. The truth is, and people don’t want to hear it, we negotiate when we realize we need the help of the other. We negotiate when we can’t have it totally our way. So it’s a certain realization that we need the other. This may sound Machiavellian, but it’s not. You negotiate when you need cooperation.
4. You negotiate when you have the ability to have it your way in the short-term, but having it your way in the short-term could have long-term consequences. Sometimes in the short-term, you feel you don’t need the cooperation or involvement of another party, but in the long-term, there are benefits to sustaining the long-term relationship. You realize that you don’t need their help in the short-term, but you do need their long-term cooperation.
5. You negotiate when you aspire to a long-term relationship. When the relationship is long-term, negotiation is critical to sustain that relationship. More often than not, we don’t negotiate in short-term relationships and if we do, the negotiation is highly focused. If we want to sustain a long-term relationship, you negotiate. The simple realization in international relationships is that these are long-term relationships, and we have no choice but to negotiate.
6. You negotiate when you could be wrong. Even if you have the capacity to go it alone, negotiations is a process where you check the appropriateness and quality of your ideas and positions. We sometimes forget that negotiation can reveal not only our agenda and position, but the agenda and position of other party. When we negotiate, we discover the strengths and flaw of our position. So, we gather more knowledge. When you think there’s a chance you could be wrong, you negotiate.
When do you negotiate? First, when you share some common ground. Second, when you have the time to negotiate. Third, when it’s clear you don’t have the ability to have it your way. Fourth, when you have the ability to have it your way, but having it your way could have long-term consequences. Fifth, when you aspire to a long-term relationship. And sixth, when there is a chance you may be wrong.