Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

“The thing I always try to keep in mind in any negotiation is to know what I want at the end of it. And I always make a practice of writing it down – what is victory for me?

And then I set up a series of stages, as the negotiations unfold, and I always [try] to be sure that the steps and maneuvers and motions and practices are consistent with getting us to that end line.

I’ve seen more bad negotiations simply because the client, or side A or side B, really forget what they’re trying to get in the end.”

This negotiation nugget, from Malcolm Jozoff, former chairman and chief executive of Dial Corp., came during a seminar in which I asked a panel of Phoenix business, political and legal leaders to share some of their most effective negotiation strategies.

These nuggets bear repeating as they represent a cross-section of critical negotiation strategies everyone can use. Here are some of the rest.

Mary Upchurch, vice president – AT&T: “Know what your best alternative is [to a negotiated agreement] so that you can remain grounded in what you’re trying to accomplish and what your choices are. . . . [And] don’t get invested in the path that you thought was the best way to get there from here, because that actually shuts down dialogue. It allows emotionalism to creep in.”

In short, Upchurch suggests, know your alternative and be open to creative options that might accomplish your and the other side’s targeted outcome.

Michael D. Kimerer, criminal defense attorney – Kimerer & Derrick: “It’s really your word. It’s really what you have developed as a reputation, so you have credibility . . . . So when you say something, someone listens to you, and believes you. That’s how come it’s so important . . . that basically you’re forthright in everything. . . . Because it always helps you on anything you negotiate.”

Hon. Roberta Voss, chairman, judiciary committee, Arizona House of Representatives (R-Glendale): “My counterpart in the Senate is a Democrat. We sat down early on in the [2001] session, even before session, and said how are we going to work this session? . . . And we laid out a map, and it worked out.”

Voss said their success largely was due to “mutual respect for one another [and] the fact that we pre-planned for the session, so that we knew what [each other’s] hot buttons were.”

Richard M. Romley, Maricopa County Attorney: “Maintain objectivity. Know your case. Go from there.”

Terry Goddard, former Phoenix mayor: “The real breakthrough [in these acrimonious negotiations] came at the human moment.” That moment, he said, completely changed the “tenor of the relationship” between the parties. It occurred, according to Goddard, when the party seeking higher wages told his counter-part a heart-wrenching story highlighting how he and his family – due to his insufficient wages – shopped exclusively at thrift stores.

Understand the emotional dynamic in negotiations, Goddard suggested. It can make or break them.

Danny Ortega, trial lawyer, Ortega & Associates : “In my business, the most effective negotiation tactic is to be ready to go to trial, plain and simple. You have to show the other side that you have your ducks in order.”

Richard Hannon, senior vice president for marketing and provider affairs, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona: Consider using creative and untraditional strategies if you reach impasse, Hannon suggested. Sometimes it may require unusual steps to ensure the other side fully appreciates the degree of your interests and leverage.

Paul F. Eckstein, chairman and civil litigator, Brown & Bain: “One of the key things is to find the right time [to negotiate].” Another key, Eckstein said, was to choose the appropriate parties to sit at the table.

Patricia D. White, Dean – ASU College of Law: “I had the experience of being the tool that was being used to attempt to move the process forward in the context of Major League Baseball [just prior to the strike.]” How? White was hired as an independent tax expert to help the owners and players break an impasse that revolved around their mutual lack of trust.

The use of independent and credible experts, White recognized, can often help parties resolve difficult issues.

Put these nuggets into your negotiation tool bag. All of us can learn from these experts. The challenge, of course, is appropriately putting these nuggets into practice.

Published April 5, 2002 The Business Journal

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