Getting what you want

Much of my time is spent negotiating – mostly on behalf of others. For many of today’s organisations there are flatter structures and a continual drive for efficiency. Part of the impact of this is the requirement to negotiate with colleagues in order to get things done. We negotiate a great deal. More than we realise. Sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it seems difficult. We all have different styles. In positional bargaining one may take a soft or hard approach. With a soft approach the focus is on:

  • Parties getting along
  • The goal is agreement
  • Trusting others
  • Making concessions to cultivate the relationship
  • Making offers
  • Disclosing your bottom line

With a hard approach, the focus is on:

  • Parties as adversaries
  • The goal is victory
  • Distrust of others
  • Demanding concessions as a condition of the relationship
  • Making threats
  • Mislead about your bottom line

The approach you decide to take is ultimately up to you. Arguably, both have advantages and disadvantages. Last year I was invited to Coach a senior woman whose career had become de-railed. She had developed a hard approach as a natural style over the years but had unknowingly collected a long list of enemies who were looking forward to her downfall. It eventually came. Although very competent at her job, she had been described as manipulative and scheming. You will probably negotiate over something today. It could be with your spouse, the children, the shop keeper, the garage mechanic or a parent from your son or daughters school.  Negotiation is a way of life.

Next time you feel as if you are in a negotiation session, stop – if you can and ask yourself whether the position you are taking is for long term or short term gain. It might just mean that you adjust your style.

Have a great month.