Rule 4: Evaluation
Rule 4.1: Look beneath the surface.
Novice Negotiators focus on facts, or dollar amounts, or legal issues, or personalities. Master Negotiators understand that every negotiation is a combination of these factors, as well as others.
"... skilled negotiators see more than just opening offers, counteroffers, and closing moves when they look at what happens at the bargaining table. They see psychological and strategic currents that are running just below the surface. They notice where the parties stand in terms of the reciprocity norm. They look for opportunities to use what psychologists call the consistency principle to commit other parties to standards and then hold them to their prior statements and positions, and they know that the timing of a proposal is always as important as its content." 54
"So when you formulate your goals, consider carefully what really matters to you. Sure, money is important. But identify your underlying interests and needs clearly."55
Rule 4.2: Break the problem up into issues.
Every negotiation involves one or more problems, or "issues", which can be sub-divided when necessary, to make the negotiation more manageable and to allow for partial agreements.
If there are multiple issues, look for trade-offs.
"you gain credence for your inflexibility on a few choice issues by your willingness to give ground on the rest." 56
Fisher and Ury discuss methods of negotiating. They argue that their model of "principled negotiation" is superior to the traditional method of "positional bargaining" in which the parties take positions and then make concessions to reach agreements.
"The method of principled negotiation developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project is to decide issues on their merits rather than through the haggling process focused on what each side says it will do and won't do. It suggests that you look for mutual gains wherever possible, and that where your interests conflict, you should insist that the result be based on some fair standards independent of the will of either side. The method of principled negotiation is hard on the merits, soft on the people." 57
Rule 4.3: Look for multiple solutions.
Master Negotiators do not look for the truth or the right answer. They explore options. They know that there are usually a number of workable solutions to the problems that vex us in our social interaction. Finding out what those solutions are may take a little work, and, even though a solution may be workable, it will not necessarily be palatable to everyone. Nevertheless, Master Negotiators know that, once they get an understanding of the whys and wherefores of each party's "positions", more often than not, there will be several options for bridging the gap, solving the problem, or resolving the issue.
"... effective negotiators care about being 'fair', but they also are assertive about their goals. They push the other party to find the best solutions, not just the simplest compromises". 58
Rule 4.4: Evaluate people, interests, options, and criteria.
Fisher and Ury summarize their method of principled negotiation as follows:
"People: Separate the people from the problem.
Interests: Focus on interests, not positions.
Options: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
Criteria: Insist that the result be based on some objective standard." 59
"Begin your preparation for negotiation by considering your own underlying needs and interests".60
Many people fight over money. But, money usually symbolizes something else. Is "feeling like a winner" what it is really all about? Is it feeling like you are being treated fairly? Look behind the money. You will find a lot of solutions there.
"Begin your preparation for negotiation by considering your own underlying needs and interests."61
Rule 4.5: Evaluate the leverage.
"The first basic skill of smart negotiating is an awareness of the leverage factors at work, plus the ability to apply leverage when it's in your favor and make do when it's not."62
Leverage is negotiating power, plain and simple.63 It is the gas in your tank. If you have no leverage, you are at the mercy of your opponent. Master Negotiators understand leverage. They know how to develop it and use it to maximum advantage. They know that if they do not use it when they have it, it may not be worth as much tomorrow. Leverage has a way of evaporating. Master Negotiators understand that leverage is wonderful, but if you don't use it, you will probably lose it.
Freund lists common leverage factors as: necessity, desire, competition, and time.64 These factors usually come along with the deal; they are intrinsic to it. If someone steals your car, and you need another right away, you have less leverage than the person who can wait a month or two to see if the market will soften. If you fall in love with a Porsche, you have less leverage than the person who can live without one. If three people want to buy your house, you have a lot more leverage than if no one will even stop to look. If you have to get that premarital agreement signed because the wedding is tomorrow morning, you do not have as much leverage as you did a month ago.
"It's the ability to walk away from the table if acceptable terms can't be worked out that puts backbone into your bargaining posture." 65
Because leverage is rarely static, you can usually enhance your leverage, or develop leverage where you had none, through:
4. understanding your opponent,
5. exploring and developing other options,
6. timing, and
"The research on the importance of preparation is extensive. Nearly every research study on negotiation has confirmed its importance".67
"Good negotiators are patient, exercising a healthy dose of self-control." 68
"The most common mistake I observe (and am guilty of myself on occasion) is giving in to a sense of impatience, satisfying the need many of us feel for instant gratification." 69
Shell discusses what he calls "normative leverage". He defines this as "the skillful use of standards, norms, and coherent positioning to gain advantage or protect a position." 70
"You maximize your normative leverage when the standards, norms, and themes you assert are ones the other party views as legitimate and relevant to the resolution of your differences. The best practice is therefore to anticipate the other side's preferred standards and frame your proposal within them. If you cannot do this, prepare to argue for a special exception to his standard based upon the special facts of your case. Attack his standard only as a last resort." 71
"By positioning your needs within the normative framework the other party uses to make decisions, you show him respect and, as a result, gain his attention and sympathy." 72
"Standards and norms have power in negotiation in part because they carry an authoritative message about what the market, the experts, or society has determined to be a fair and reasonable price or practice. ... Psychologists have discovered a form fact about human nature: We are inclined to defer to authority."73
In fact, if we were searching for the definition of the Novice Negotiator, we could simply say that he is one who ignores leverage. While he knows something about the problem, he is relatively unprepared. He is either scared to crunch numbers or is inept in that regard. He gives little thought to his opponent. He fails to explore and develop other options. He does not consider the timing of his proposals or responding to the other party's proposals. Or, he does not exhibit the patience required to close the deal.
Master Negotiators crunch numbers. They know the actual costs of doing the deal, and the actual costs of not doing the deal. They can calculate present values, if need be. And, they understand the tax consequences of the transaction.
Rule 4.5: Consider the "consistency principle".
Master negotiators understand the "consistency principle"74 , which states that we all have a strong psychological need to be consistent with our prior acts and statements. If you are looking for tactics you can use to manipulate your opponent, consider trying to hook him with some small commitment and then following up with a larger request.
"The goal of the consistency trap is to precommit you to a seemingly innocent standard and then confront you with the logical implications of the standard in a particular case - implications that actually turn out to run against your interests. This is a form of intellectual coercion, and you should be ready to defend against it". 75
For example, if you are in a negotiation over child support, and you represent the Mom seeking child support above the norm, consider asking the Dad something like, "You don't want the children to suffer because of this divorce you wanted, do you Mr. Jones?" If he takes the bait, the follow up questions might be: "And, you know how it would affect them if their lifestyle was substantially reduced?" "And, you know what that lifestyle costs?" "You've always been generous with them haven't you?"
This concept may have a material effect on your negotiating strategy. In a fight over money, when they are not getting as much as they want, Novice Negotiators often react by accusing their opponent of being a skinflint or a cheapskate or by threatening him with going to trial if he does not loosen up. Although counter-intuitive, it may be much more effective to remind the skinflint of all of his generous past acts so that he will act consistently with a pattern of generosity.
The consistency principle can also be invoked in order to persuade an opponent to act consistently with established standards and norms.
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