Effective negotiation is not a shoot from the hip, fly by the seat of your pants activity. Effective negotiation requires preparation and acquired skills, but few lawyers have ever learned the techniques and strategies of effective negotiation. Many negotiations are haphazard, without adequate preparation.
Preparation is the key to success of any endeavor. I call it TTTP: Timely, Thorough, Thoughtful Preparation. Negotiation experts all focus on the importance of preparation. Martin Latz says the following: “What is the most universally ignored but most effective negotiation tool? Preparation. Most people fail to sufficiently prepare. Renowned UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said: ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’ He’s right.” Gain the Edge! Negotiation to Get What You Want, p. 5 (New York, St. Martin Press, 2004). Abraham Lincoln said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.”
William Ury joins Martin Latz and says, “The secret of effective negotiation is that simple: prepare, prepare, prepare. Most negotiations are won or lost even before the talking begins, depending on the quality of preparation. People who think they can ‘wing it’ without preparing often find themselves sadly mistaken. Even if they reach agreement, they may miss opportunities for joint gain they might well have come across in preparing.” William Ury, Getting Past No, p. 16, (New York, Bantam, 1991).
David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius remind us that all negotiating parties and lawyers care deeply about the outcome of the negotiation and then state, “Unfortunately, when it comes to negotiating success, caring deeply doesn’t make the difference. Only effective preparation and focused action make a difference.” 3-D Negotiation, p.18, (Boston, Harvard Business School Press, 2006). According to Lax and Sebenius, “The very first part of preparation is understanding what you’re really up against.” You must know where you want to go, your interests and your counterpart’s interests and the barriers that stand between you and the deal you want. You must determine your destination and map backward on how to get there. 3-D Negotiation, pp. 18, 19. William Ury also states, “Unless you know where you want to go, you’re unlikely to get there.” Getting Past No, p. 17. John F. Kennedy said “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
Negotiation Tip: The first pancake is never the best. A “perfect” pancake takes preparation and practice and more preparation and practice.