If we negotiate primarily to achieve our goals, then options and alternatives are the lifeblood of negotiations.
Most negotiations that people participate in are fairly straightforward and not too complicated. However, as the level of complexity of these negotiations increases, so too does the need for creating alternatives and options.
It is easy to hit a brick wall or stumbling block in any negotiation. The big question is, however, how are you going to get around it and reach your final destination? You will never do it if you cannot find different avenues to the same goal.
In any negotiation, there are really many different approaches to reaching an agreement. You may try one or several and find that those paths are blocked. If you are persistent and creative, however, you will come up with the path that will lead you to success.
You should not let yourself be stopped by someone’s initial rebuke of your position. Instead, you should try another option or alternative on them. It might just be the one that does the trick. If it is not, however, you must find another alternative, and you must keep trying until all options have been exhausted.
In negotiating you have to be persistent. Have you ever watched an ant carry an object that was at least twenty times larger than the ant itself? The ant may stumble many times along the way back to its nest, but each time the ant stumbles, it finds another hold on the object, picks it up, and continues towards its goal. So too should you not let minor setbacks block your way to your goals.
The Significance of Body Language
While body language has been a source of interpersonal understanding from the very beginning of the human race, only in the past few decades has behavioral scientists started producing methodical observations of nonverbal meanings.
They have developed complex notational systems, layered people interacting for slow-motion frame-by-frame analysis, and performed thousands of other experiments. The scientific study of body language is subtle in its infancy, and even though conclusions are rather tentative, most considerable contributions have already been made to our understanding of human interaction.
Through history, by means of body language reading, when we add this research of modern scientists to the observations of sensitive people, we have a remarkable means of understanding others.
Nonverbal communication was the only language used all through the most of humanityâ€™s existence. There was absolutely no oral or written language for many centuries. So, body language was the only means of communication.
When language finally developed, people commonly let themselves to be abstracted from body communication. Some, though, continued to concentrate on nonverbal cues.
An ancient Chinese proverb warns, “look out for the man whose stomach doesn’t move when he laughs.” In the eighth century B.C., the prophet Isaiah commented, “The show of their countenance both witness against them.”
Face-to-face interaction comes from words by means of only a small portion of the understanding one gain. One well-known authority asserts that a mere 35 percent of the meaning of communication derives from words; the rest comes from body language.
In a widely quoted article that in situations he examined, Researcher Albert Mehrabian stated only 7 percent of the impact was verbal – the remaining 93 percent was nonverbal.
You may question the specific percentages arrived at by these researchers, but few people argue the common direction of their findings – that body language is a very vital means of communication. You easily put the whole thing into this statement: No words are as clear as the language of body expression once one has learned to read it.
Did you know that a person cannot stop communicating, although he or she may make a decision to stop talking, it is not possible for her to stop behaving.
The behavior of a person – their facial expressions, posture, gestures, and other actions – offer a continuous stream of information and a constant source of clues to the feelings they are experiencing. Therefore, one of the most important skills of good listening is the reading of body language.
Never Negotiate Without Being Prepared
It cannot be emphasized enough that preparation is the key to successful negotiation. Every minute you put into preparing will be rewarded many times over as you go through your negotiations.
Do not let yourself be bullied into a negotiation for which you are unprepared. It is only through a thorough command of the situation that you can expect to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.
Some of the negative consequences that can result if you allow yourself to negotiate without being prepared are as follows:
- Inability to defend your position
- Short-sightedness in evaluating all the issues
- Succumbing to pressure to close the negotiation
- Giving up too much to soon
- Forgetting key details
- Not considering all alternatives
- Building an incomplete case for yourself
- Becoming a target of your counterparts’ questions
- Losing control of the negotiation process
Brainstorm, draw your counterparts into the discussions, and ask them to suggest options. Do not let anything get past you.
Do not think that any particular alternative is too trivial or is certain to be turned down by the other party. It may very well be this particular angle, which gets you to your goal. Do not be afraid to suggest something that at first glance might seem impossible to achieve.
Time is Money
Ensure first to establish the limits of your counterpart’s authority. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of negotiating with someone who does not have the authority to reach final agreement with you. This, however, is something that you should avoid at all costs.
Time is money. The last thing you want to do is invest a lot of time in trying to work out a solution with another party only to find out that he or she lacks the authority to reach a final agreement with you.
It can be a very frustrating experience to invest hours and hours in a negotiation only to find that you have to present your position again to someone above your negotiating counterpart.
Ask your Peers
Do not let yourself fall into this trap. You need to ask your counterparts very pointed questions. What are the limits of their authority? Can they make decisions for their organization? If so, what are the limits of those decisions? Will someone else in the organization have to ratify the agreement? If so, who, and how long will that take? Do your counterparts have the ability to bind their company in writing to the agreement that you reach? These are the kinds of questions you should ask to, fully explore your counterparts’ authority.