Unless someone is dealing with a person who has renounced all worldly desires, nobody gets what they want from someone for nothing. There is always a "give and take" in every deal. The process through which we determine the list of "give and take" is commonly referred to as negotiation. It takes on a whole new meaning when deals are negotiated in a commercial setting.
Just because a negotiation on a business deal takes place within the confines of a nicely manicured venue, doesn't necessarily mean that it is done in a structured way. Negotiations, by its very nature, is premised on a highly cultural context. Social norms being the core of the context, negotiations often proceed in tangents that miss the common concerns of both parties. It is wise to approach this artwork in a scientific manner.
Putting structure to negotiation begins with the separation of the negotiation topic from the person or organizations involved in the negotiation. Once the topic has been understood and analysed thoroughly, it can then be mapped with the individuals involved to ascertain a path forward for negotiation. Preparation is the key to this. One needs to gather as much information on the issues that are to be negotiated as possible. Statistical insights, personality profiles and behavioural patterns of the individuals are keys to a sound preparation for a negotiation.
Before beginning the formal negotiation, arranging a few preparation meetings to discuss the objective of the negotiation and set the "dos and the don'ts" through mutual agreement can help. Putting together an agreed-upon guideline is very important before the negotiations start formally.
Both parties need to put an effort to build up confidence in each other to create a positive atmosphere at the beginning. Being willing to listen to the other party before speaking and referring to good memories usually settles the nerves right. Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to start playing the mind game. Alluding to the imminence of the deal closure usually gets the other party on the edge. However, it would be foolish to accept the offer made at this stage; take your time, and dig deeper into the opponent's psyche to achieve your objectives.
One should also keep in mind that riling each other up with too much of mind-game may derail the negotiation. Therefore, it is very important to engage experienced negotiators who can influence the opinion of the opponent; especially, when dealing with industrial disputes or crises, experienced negotiators can apply wisdom to bring down the temperature on both sides which creates the space to think rationally.
Everyone needs to avoid emotion when outlining or debating their position, views or expectations. A simple trick to avoid emotions can be asking basic questions to the other party. This helps to gain each other's confidence by clarifying doubts or confusion. To ask the right questions, one needs to have a positive frame of mind. There may be instances of seemingly irrational behaviour on part of the other party, but one shouldn't allow it to disturb the positivity required to close the negotiation on a winning note.
As the negotiation approaches conclusion, give enough opportunity to allow the other party to share their views on the outcome of the negotiation, so that the essence goes into the agreement that is to be signed once a deal is reached. Make sure once an agreement is reached, senior officials from both parties sign it off as a mark of owning the outcome. But signing is just the beginning, one also needs to agree on a method to ensure that the agreed-upon actions are followed through.
Negotiation may be highly fluid, but with these structures in place, it may yield rich dividends for the negotiators on either side.
N – Need to separate self from the issue
E – Emphasize on preparation
G – Get control over the process
O – Open yourself to others' expectations
T – Take time, don't rush
I – Influence to achieve results
A – Avoid emotion
T – Think positive
I – Invite other party's views before concluding
O – Own up to the outcome
N – Never leave the agreement unwritten
Md. Faisal Imtiaz Khan is the Chief Human Resources Officer, Robi Axiata Limited.