Saturday, 27 January 2018 05:43

Growing Your Business - Better Negotiation

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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.
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Peter Meyer

Owner/Founder of TMG

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