Negotiate like a Pro
This week I hope to finish an article I'm writing on negotiation tactics for the August issue of Print Professional. I've interviewed a lot of great people for the piece, one of which was Professor Seth Freeman, adjunct professor of negotiation and conflict management at NYU's Stern School of Business and at Columbia University. Below is our entire conversation, which gives a few great pointers on negotiation, from specific ways to prepare to how to frame your thinking to ensure better results overall. If you like what you read, don't forget to visit www.printprofessionalmag.com in August for the full article!
Print Professional: What is a common negotiating mistake that people make?
Professor Seth Freeman: One of the most frequent mistakes that negotiators make is failing to prepare. There was a really interesting study several years ago that looked at 48 excellent negotiators and 48 mediocre negotiators. It found that one of the primary differences was not how much time the negotiators prepared, everyone said "oh I prepared a lot," but the ones who were excellent did very specific things that the mediocre ones never thought to do. Knowing specific ways to prepare effectively is probably one of the most important things. There was a recent study I saw that said if you do these specific preparation tasks well, it can improve the return results. It can improve the amount you actually take from the negotiations by 15, 16, 17 percent, and you can improve how much the other guy gets by 10 percent. It's hard to think of things that would improve a business person's return by that much that wouldn't be valuable, that wouldn't be of interest, but you know, a lot of people don't do it.
PPRO: Could you explain a few of these specific things people should be doing to prepare?
SF: Sure. I'll give you two, then if you like we can get into more. One is that excellent negotiators think and talk a lot about common interests. That is, what is it that allows me to complete this sentence: "Look, we're not enemies here, we're on the same side. If we work together, we can ________." If you can come up with an answer that's specific, compelling and not self-serving, it can often turn adversaries into partners, sometimes shockingly so.
Another one is that excellent negotiators come up with many more creative options than mediocre negotiators. Typically, an excellent negotiator comes up with five creative options for each negotiable topic, which seems excessive when you're doing it at first, but I can't tell you how many times students have come to me and said, "You know if anything, I wish I've had more."
One more thing I'll share with you. Most naïve negotiators, if I can use the term, think only about "I-win-you-lose." And if you do that, you're often missing huge opportunities. Not just to create wealth, but also to create better relationships and improve your trustworthiness. There are a lot of ways you can make it better for both parties. ... It's true that if you do look beyond just "I-win-you-lose," there are specific things, and I've just mentioned two of them, that can really foster much more satisfaction.
PPRO: Do you have a favorite style of negotiation you prefer to teach your students? (always be aggressive, focus on amicability and diffusing tension, etc.)
SF: Well, it's an interesting question, what style means. Studies find that you can be aggressive and do well, you can be nice and do well, but if you're unprepared, you won't do well either way. So, I have a personality, I have my own preferences for approaching people, but I don't try to urge my students to be like me. I urge them to be like themselves, to use their training to make them more effective. So, I hope this is a helpful thing, that you can retain your natural character and style and personality, and be fine with whatever that is, but there are certain skills that make a difference.
That's all for this week eveyone! Thanks for reading, and remember, if you liked the article, check back in mid-August on www.printprofessionalmag.com for the full article.
MONDAY MIKE FACT: I have not at all mastered negotiation with my new beagle puppy. Not really my fault though, since her answer to everything is "well I'm gonna chew on this now I guess, arf arf arf."