Style / Relationship Planning
The final plan you should make is about your negotiating style – which is another way of talking about the relationship you’ll have with the other side. The standard for discussing negotiating style is a matrix where the X axis is your ranking for how you value YOUR SIDE’s satisfaction with the outcome and the Y axis your ranking for how you value THE OTHER SIDE’S satisfaction of the outcome.
This the standard negotiating styles chart:
(But it might be easier to think of this way:)
If you are Competitive, then 99-1 in your favor sounds great. You don't plan on seeing him again or know that he has few options.
Accommodative is the opposite. You’ll take a 1 – 99 split in his favor as long as it means making the deal. You’re in a weak position, but you really need to walk away with a deal.
Collaborators are the classic Win-Win deal, but it’s not easy – and not always appropriate. Collaborators tend to leave money on the table in the short term, and plan to profit by growing the size of the market for both partners.
Avoiders are happy enough with things the way they are. They don't necessarily want to engage in a new negotiation, and don’t seem to care if you walk away or not.
In the middle is the Compromiser. Compromisers are the consummate professionals – they know how to give and take in order to get a deal that works for everyone. A lot of great negotiators will end up here. The catch is that you can’t really start off as a compromiser. No one believes you, and will press for additional concessions.
Your decision – What is best for you?
Your negotiating style isn’t about personality or chemistry. It’s about what is best for your business. Check your strategic plan – it will describe whether you need a long-term partnership or a one-off transaction. If you plan on seeing him again – even if it’s just for service or maintenance – then you probably should plan on some kind of relationship, and must negotiate accordingly. If you see yourself shopping around for new counter-parties – or plan on eventually competing with him – then you can be more competitive.
3 Rules for Planning a Negotiating Style
1. Your negotiating style is a decision – not destiny.
The style you use in a negotiation is not serendipity or personal chemistry. You are using tactics to shape your style so that you can build the relationship that will help you carry out your strategic goal. You make the choice based on what is best for you.
Work backward from your strategic goal. In 3 – 5 years, is this counter-party going to be a strategic partner or a competitor?
Your tactics determine your relationship. If you use cutthroat tactics but want to end up with a long term, trust-based partnership, you’re going to have problems.
2. It's just business.
Don’t confuse a business relationship with emotion or family or romance. Your negotiating style is a decision that you make in advance. Your strategic plan will tell you what kind of style you should use based on your need for a partnership or a one-off transaction.
Many Western negotiators operate as though a cordial business relationship is a deal-point to be guarded jealously – and contingent upon a successful deal. You would be better off treating your relationship as a tactical weapon – not a bargaining chip.
3. You decide, or the decision is made for you.
Style, Strategy, and Tactics are linked. Strategic goals should give you a basis for determining what kind of relationship is best for your buiness -- a one-off transaction or a long-term strategic partnership. Style is the sum of all your tactics.Do you want a one-off transaction or a strategic partnership? Are you a cutthroat competitor, or a win-win collaborator? You either decide about the relationship or the decision will be made for you.
For International Negotiators:
Different cultures perceive basic style issues differently. Americans tend to be seen as aggressive and domineering in negotiations – even when they consider themselves to be restrained and compromising. Relationship-oriented negotiating cultures (which includes most of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and LatAm) tend to prefer longer relationship-builds, which can strike Westerners as avoiding.
Americans and Northern Europeans tend to be less adept at building and leveraging relationships than their Asian or Middle Eastern counterparts.
Pre-Mid-Post Deal Relationships
Will you have the same relationship after the deal? What about those hard-fought battles between strategic partners? Can I start off as competitive, and then soften my position – making me look like a trusted collaborator? Or can I start off avoiding and gradually use my charm and wits to take over the operation?
Maybe. Probably. Depends on you.
BUT – if that’s your plan, then make sure you plan it out. You wouldn’t think much of a counter-party that seemed inauthentic or manipulative. But it can work for some people. Check the culture and the resources, and make sure you understand what happens if the deal goes south.
Final Word: Make sure the style you think you’re projecting is the style he’s seeing.
Others tend to see us a much more competitive than we see ourselves.