Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!
In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.
Over the next few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.
(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)
Choosing the right location for a negotiation is important for practical, emotional, and energetic reasons. A location can be convenient or inconvenient, comfortable or uncomfortable, calming or distracting, elegant or shoddy. A good negotiator chooses the location that feels best and meets the particular needs of both parties.
You are more relaxed, comfortable, and in control on your own turf, where you feel at home in familiar surroundings, and you can access people and information to get practical support you may need in the moment. So, meeting in your home or office gives you a home-field advantage. This is true whether the other party is coming to buy something from you or to sell something to you.
A neutral venue levels the locational playing field but, if you meet in a neutral venue, try to visit it beforehand, if possible, to get a sense of the environment. In an ideal meeting place you can sit comfortably, listen without environmental distractions, and talk and take notes without excessive noise or interruptions (noisy, crowded coffee shops and restaurants are not ideal). These environmental factors are more important than on whose turf you are meeting.
But don’t place undue emphasis on location, as it is secondary. Always rely first and foremost on thorough preparation and your skills as a negotiator.
Various factors, such as your need to access information or a product, or brief access to knowledgeable members of your team who needn’t be part of the negotiation, or convenience of location to both parties (such as wheelchair access or distance to travel), should determine where you meet.
There are advantages to visiting the other party’s location. You can get a much better picture of the person and enterprise you are negotiating with. And this tends to negate common stalling tactics like, “I don’t have that document with me now but I can email it to you later,” or, “I’ll have to discuss that with my boss when I return to the office and get back to you.” (Of course, meeting in your office will preclude your using the above tactics as well!)
Once you’ve decided on a location, your seating position is important. Whenever possible, try to sit next to your support staff, if you have one. If you are on friendly terms with the other party and expect a smooth win/win negotiation, it’s fine to sit beside them if you’re going over papers together. This creates a sense of professional intimacy, of working together side by side. In such cases, if you have support staff, let them sit on the opposite side of the table. Then you and the other party can jointly request information from your support staff to iron out the unresolved issues.
If you’ve never met the other party or don’t know them well, it’s fine to sit opposite each other as too close a proximity can make people uncomfortable. If the negotiation involves confrontational issues, by all means sit opposite the person you are negotiating with, as sitting side by side will only create awkward tension.
Always make sure you are seated on the same level as the other party, or even a little higher. And always sit erect. You don’t want to be towered over or looking up at the other party while negotiating. In the same vein, don’t allow the other party to assign you to an “inferior” seat, such as a small or unstable or uncomfortable chair, while they sit in “superior” taller or more comfortable seats. If you need to exchange an inferior seat for a better one on your own, by all means do it, even if you have to drag another chair across the room. This shows that you are willing to stand up for yourself and will not allow the other party to manipulate or control you. If the location isn’t working for you, if it’s making you feel physically or emotionally uncomfortable, take charge and request a change of location to a more comfortable spot.
But while these elements of location are important, they are secondary. Don’t confuse your location with your power. Your power doesn’t reside in any location, in any office, in any chair, or in any organisation you happen to work for. These accoutrements of power are not the source of your power as a negotiator. The source of your power is the foundation of skills, ethics, and character described throughout this book. The source of your power is within you, but only if you have developed it in the ways described here. If you haven’t developed this foundation, you have no real power, and no external location or official title can make up for the lack.
As a great negotiator, you are the location of power wherever you go.