A negotiation is the interest-driven tug-of-war to attain an agreement. This may be purchasing hardware, agreeing a service or other reconciled interests. The assumed relationship between the negotiators has a great influence on the negotiation. If an applicant is in a job interview, the question, who offers what, is crucial to the relative negotiating position. In the case of cheap labor, the applicant is in a lost position, because the next one is already waiting for this chance. Rare specialists are more likely courted and thus are in a better position. These black-and-white situations are rather easy to cope with. It becomes difficult, if a conversation partner devotes himself to the illusion of holding all the trumps in his hand and gambles without measure. A few prerequisites have to be created in order to have negotiations on a level playing field with reciprocal satisfaction. Then mutual enrichment is reachable.
In real negotiations both parties have to offer something and the outcome is open. Only when this starting point applies to both, it is worthwhile to invest time into the negotiations.
- Sufficient information
Even if it sounds banal, the availability of the relevant information is crucial. This does not only mean that you get the desired information, but also that you have the obligation to provide relevant information. This information does not consist only of length, width, weight, quality, or price, but also includes the expectations of the contracting parties, which are often hidden behind the object of negotiation. This does not mean, however, that all cards are put on the table from the beginning. It is more important to give at any time a satisfactory answer to the questions of the opposing party. The difference between tactics and the state of not knowing results from one’s own preparation, which has to be done in advance. It is an important expression of mutual appreciation. The parties continuously receive that way a better insight. This allows both sides to approach each other.
- Ensure feasibility
The negotiating items are often not specific enough that one would be able to compare one alternative with the other. The effort involved in a project is determined by the difficulty, the components, the quality, and it often depends on the cooperation of the customer. The description of these framework conditions is never accurate enough that one could derive exact estimates from it. The first and most important step is that the negotiation object, what the customer expects, is feasible. The client is usually represented by several people, who might have very different ideas. In the interest of feasible outcomes, sufficient information about all requirements and the offer is crucial. The feasibility is the easier to recognize, the clearer the assignment is for both parties. On this basis, it an agreement materializes, or not.
- Live and let live
The real contractual object is the price. Actually it is not necessary to point out that the buyer wants to achieve as much as possible for as little as possible, as well as the seller fights for as little as possible for as much as possible. Nevertheless, there are always negotiating partners who think that this issue is unknown to the other side. It is smarter to choose a more understanding approach. Striving for a good price and a suitable offer is legitimate. One’s attitude determines the acceptability for the other in the negotiation. It is not an advantage to bamboozle the contract partner. In the worst case, it hurts him so much that he is no longer available – which becomes one’s own disadvantage. That’s why: Live and let live.
Negotiations have a clear goal – achieving a closing. Considering the expenses that both parties put into the needs-oriented preparation, it is inconvenient for both, if the closing does not materialize. However, to make a conclusion, the key is the magic word “compromise”. Everybody has to approximate the respective situation and each other’s expectations. This leads to the adaption of some requirements – e.g. a price limit, a desired range of services, an overstated claim to the result quality, and cheeky excessiveness. In order to nip later dissatisfaction in the bud, it is absolutely necessary to bring the facts into a form which adequately outlines the requirements and deliverables. The final contract is the framework for the delivery of the service. Potential changes should be documented later on, to avoid unnecessary frustrations.
Bottom line: Many people have already talked about the prerequisites for negotiations. In any case, it is crucial to provide sufficient information, to focus on feasible areas, to ensure your own life and the life of the other side, and, above all, to eventually reach a printable conclusion. Now nothing remains to reach a mutual enrichment.