The Meyer Group - Blog
Saturday, 27 January 2018 05:43

Growing Your Business - Better Negotiation

You want to succeed at negotiation, but is it strategic for your business growth? How can you make this an advantage inside as well as outside your company? 
Many of us were trained to approach negotiation with spreadsheets and margins and then add game theory. It’s a start.
However, is your business just about numbers? Not a chance. Don't you use negotiation throughout your day, with people on whom you rely? Let’s look at a way to integrate all this to help foster growth.
Your Start
You may know Chris Voss’ book on negotiation (“Never Split the Difference”) as a discussion of very high stakes. He was a top hostage and terrorism negotiator for the FBI. Despite his personal aggressive style and the hard people and situations he faced, he suggests that you negotiate with “unconditional personal regard.”
If you sit down with someone and just assume that they are nothing but good, Voss holds that you will have an advantage in the negotiation.
This does not mean that you assume that they are right or that you should give an inch. You just assume that they are good. This works. It’s grounded in research. 
“Unconditional personal regard” comes from work done by Carl Rogers back in the 50s, where he applied it to therapy. I’m not suggesting that good business negotiation is therapy. It’s an ongoing process to get agreements that work for you while you improve relationships that matter to you and your business.
Don't Split the Hostages
When you start with unconditional personal regard, two things happen. One is that you are relaxed and able to use that to build and hold a position. The other is that you telegraph your ease. That can help the other person trust you. And maybe trust themselves more. 
The title of the book, “Never Split the Difference,” refers to how Voss succeeded. Using unconditional personal regard as a start, he never chose to say: “You have 4 hostages, I’ll take two and you keep two and we’ll split the difference.” He went for everything. He usually got it. 
So what does that have to do with your results? It means that while you hold to your position, both you and your opposite feel comfortable that you are held in regard. You strengthen your relationship even as you get the results you came to get. 
Unconditional Personal Regard
One of the keys to Rogers is that he let his patients feel that they were capable of doing their own work. Instead of the therapist fixing the problem, doctors who use this take the position that the patient inherently has the tools and just needs to be guided to use them. 
In business, this would be like saying: “You have what it takes to make this happen, I’m comfortable that you can. Now go do it.” Isn’t that how you like to be managed?
This is not about negotiating transactions anymore. This is about how people feel about working with you. Do they feel like there is a constant need to defend themselves? To be on their toes just in case?
Or do they feel that they can work with you over time? Do they feel that while you may not support all their actions or results you will always hold them with unconditional personal regard? 
If you start that way, you have a good chance of ending that way.
Voss uses unconditional personal regard when he negotiates. He usually gets everything. But for a growing business this is about more than negotiation. It is about making a business grow. 
On that subject, I want it all and so should you.

This is going to be an odd question, but could be a very useful one for you. If you try it, you’ll clearly differentiate yourself with customers. You may learn a lot about them and they about themselves.

At the same time, if you ask the people on whom you rely some will increase their respect for you. Some may think that you are crazy. Consider yourself warned.

Oh, many people you ask will want to know your answer, so you’d best have an answer for yourself. So the question is:
     Why did you wake up this morning?

Of course there are no wrong answers. When I have asked over the past week, the replies include “To urinate,” “Get going for a meeting,” “To sell” and “To find more ways to grow myself today.”

What Is In This For You?

Consider these three benefits you can gain:

1 - If you ask a potential candidate for a hire, you’ll probably get information that can make your decision easier. It’s a great interview question.

2 - If you want to get a customer to reflect (instead of just hammer you on price or product) this can be a great question. You may find it hard to ask. However this question helps you to move from a commodity image to a more thoughtful one.

3 - Some people will take this as an aha moment. They will start to change their day based on the answer. With luck, you will benefit as they do.

My Own Answer

Yes, I’ll answer this as well. Of course this varies day by day, but in the past few weeks my own answer has been consistent. I was surprised by what I discovered.

I expected the answer to be around gratitude for my own ability to write and work. I was wrong.

When I’m just plain honest with myself, the reason I woke up this past few weeks is to do more today than I did previously. It is sort of about pushing my envelope, growing into new areas. As soon as I ask, it is really obvious to me.

I’m happy with the answer but I am even happier with the idea that I was wrong before. I think that we all want to learn, especially about ourselves. And I did. Using this question can help generate learning. With it, you can be a positive influence.

Benefits to You

Any time that you help a key person, or a customer, or yourself learn more you are differentiating yourself and your business.

- In commodity markets, this helps you to differentiate your business.

- In high service markets, this help you to show why you should be the vendor of choice.

- And when you want to attract and retain great people, this might help them see you as the person with whom to work.

Give it a try, ask the next person to whom you talk: “Why did you get up this morning?” You may both learn a lot. You may change the ground rules for your year. You will probably get a grin.

Three practical questions for you:

- Do you make gratitude?

- Is now the right time to do it?

- Does it help grow revenue, your access to time, and the people on whom you rely?

The answers to all three are ‘yes.’ As you start the year, let’s look at quick hit ways to make that work for you.


Do You Make Gratitude?

This is both obvious and not. You know people who are good at expressing gratitude, and you also know people who just don’t seem able to express it. It isn’t about what you do for her or him. It’s about how they choose to act, is it not?

And isn’t that true for you? Are you a person who looks for reasons to be grateful? It could be gratitude with customers, employees, suppliers or anyone else significant in your life. More important, it could be to you. You can choose to do this, you need not wait.

You are always the best place to start, and when you do you set an example that others can follow. Some will, and then you will benefit.


Is This the Right Time?

If you’ve not been known for expressing or promoting gratitude, the start to the year may be the exact right time to start. Whenever you change behavior, people assume that it is temporary and that perhaps it should not be trusted. If you do it at the times of highest pressure (for example, at the end of a sales period) many folks will just ignore it.

This week is the right week, when you may have been out of sight for a little while. You can come back and say “I have been reflecting. I plan to practice gratitude a lot more this year, starting now.” Then you can start. Until you display it, nobody will believe it. And why they should they?


Does it Help Grow Revenue? Time? People?

Each of the key people in your business life has a choice of where they focus their time, energy, and best effort. If you are the one who expresses gratitude, you can expect more of their best work. And you will have earned it.

Post holiday is a great time to think about and express gratitude. Not about for what you are grateful from the past year. This is the time to do it to create a new standard for yourself, and then for others to emulate. Your business, and daily life, will do better for it.

Today is the right day to start.