To wrap up the month, let’s consider the last two guiding principles of successful negotiating – protecting your reputation and learning by doing. Here are my thoughts on both:
Jealously protect your reputation. Sounds simple and straightforward, right? Of course. But many negotiators apply a different ethical standard to negotiations than to other parts of their lives. Justiﬁcations abound. “Everyone lies in negotiations,” some will say. Or, “It’s just a white lie.”
Here’s the deal. Even the most competent and professional negotiations involve a certain amount of “salesmanship.” In fact, a signiﬁcant dynamic in many negotiations involves one party attempting to convince the other party that their bottom line is different than what it is in reality. Or that they have more leverage than is actually the case. Or they try to avoid answering certain questions or revealing strategically important information.
But at the end of the day, deal or no deal, everyone will leave the negotiation with an impression of whether their counterparts dealt with them in a professional and honest fashion. If you gain a reputation as an honest and trustworthy negotiator you will be more likely to get what you want in the future. If not, you will lose credibility, fewer opportunities will come your way, and fewer negotiations will conclude with you achieving your goals.
Strategic thinking. Conﬁdence and a comprehensive negotiation toolbox. Preparation. A stellar reputation. Effective negotiators need all of these tools. But they don’t help much until you have learned how to apply them in real-life negotiations.
It’s one thing to understand the negotiation process. It’s another to put this knowledge to use in actual negotiations. As with any skill, becoming a more effective negotiator takes time, effort, understanding and practice. Especially practice.
Next week, we’ll begin exploring the Five Golden Rules of Negotiation in more detail…