This article is taken from parts of Michele Huff’s book, The Transformative Negotiator, 2015. Michele Huff, J.D. states, “Your overall goal in negotiating is to modify another’s behavior to get what you want or need. To do this you must be able to clearly articulate what it is you want, need, and expect from your partner. It is your responsibility to create clarity by being specific and eliminating ambiguities.” If you say you want chocolate, what do you really mean? Do you want a half-pound of baker’s chocolate, a bar of dark chocolate, regular or peanut M&M’s, or a Snickers candy bar? Know what you mean and say what you mean.
“Every successful negotiation requires that from the outset you know yourself and, as much as possible, know your negotiation partner. You can never be too prepared for a negotiation—and you can all too easily be unprepared.” Learn as much as you can about the specific circumstances of your negotiation. What does your client want and why does your client want it? What are your client’s real interests, concerns and goals? What is your client’s BATNA, WATNA and RATNA, i.e. best day in court, worst day in court and realistic day in court? What is your client’s walk-away position? Not only do you need to know the answers to these questions about your client, but also about the other party. What are the barriers to reaching an agreement from your client’s point of view and from the opposing party’s point of view? If you do not know the answers to these questions, you are not prepared to negotiate.
The more information you and your negotiation partner have about each other, the issues and the answers to the questions above, the more likely you both are to negotiate from a place of understanding instead of misunderstanding. Help your negotiation partner see you as a creative facilitator instead of as a stubborn tree stump.
If there are some easy issues, start with them and obtain some agreements and thus build trust and momentum. Deal with the harder issues next.
Preparation and sharing of information helps parties reach an agreement. What are the common interests and the strong opposing interests? If neither side has this knowledge, neither side is prepared to negotiate. Remember the opposing party will say yes to the deal for their reasons, not your reasons. Your client will say yes for his or her reasons, not the other party’s reasons. Each side should try to build a bridge of understanding about these matters.