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Drop The Macho Negotiation Stance

The weekend when strong and stable became soft and shaky.

Democracy continues to throw out shocks.

Through the media’s pant-wetting fervour, the main remarkabling was surely that both main UK parties – whom mopped up a greater share of the electorate between them than anyone thought possible which in any ‘normal’ vote saw them record landslides – agree, yes broadly agree on the single biggest issue of the hour. Both Left and Right want Brexit.

Negotiations start in a week from when I blog this.

Doing the rounds, the Government’s Brexit Secretary sought to sound reassuring.

Not quite a “nothing has changed, nothing has changed” moment, but still keen to report that preparation is over and the first round is ready.

Then he made a series of observations on the act of negotiation itself.

These I feel are worth listening to. David Davis wrote a book on ideal business turnaround from his time in industry. How to negotiate being an apparent cornerstone of his writings.

The tiny snippets you can find online from his long out-of-print tome includes this wisdom of which you cannot help but see delicious irony from 2017;

“In a typical crisis situation the key decision is the change of the leader. From this decision virtually all others flow.”

As well as, any new leader;

“will have a honeymoon period of about 100 days”.

And I wish the web contained his full list of “golden rules”, which seem to include;

“quick negotiations are very bad for one party or the other” &
“losers make the first concession on major issues”.

It is these beliefs on negotiation though that strike me today.

He decries that many in politics regard negotiation as a “macho” activity. There are winners and losers, and you must grind your opponent into the ground.

He steadfastly holds the opposite view.

‘It is about what’s best for them and what’s best for us.’

In his experience, there exists definitely the concept win-win. As seen from another small summary;

“Adequate preparation is vital. The first essential step is to view your problem from the perspective of the other side. Understanding clearly the intent of the other side is the first step to a mutually successful negotiation and quite often turns a straight win or lose style of negotiation into something more creative and mutually beneficial.”

Negotiation is a major skill that throughout my career I see salespeople really struggle with.

It’s too simplistic to say that ‘discount’ is the only tool often used, and used with abandon.

But there is certainly a reluctance to pause and ask a reflective; ‘how is that best for you and best for me?’. Getting to feel like you’re both on the same side of the table is tough, but any attempt (repeated, prolonged) will pay you back many times over.

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