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)
The ability to motivate and inspire others, to get them to do what you want them to do because they see it is truly in their best interests, is an invaluable character trait of a great negotiator. The two basic ways to motivate people to do things they might not otherwise do are indicated in the carrot/stick analogy. The carrot method is the way of encouragement, of positive incentives, of loving support. The stick method is the way of pressure, of intimidation, coercion, threat of consequences or punishment.
The carrot/stick approach leverages the most basic human drives of desire and fear. Great negotiators identify these basic drives in the “what” and the “why” of the other party and use them to their advantage. Knowing what the other party desires and fears, you can determine what carrot or stick to use in the negotiation process.
The carrot is more common and straightforward in a negotiation. You offer the other party something they want as incentive to close a deal. The stick is less common and more tricky. Do you threaten or try to intimidate the other party? If so, why and how? Intimidation, as we saw earlier, is mostly used in negotiations involving prosecutors and police in criminal matters. Fear of punishment has a legitimate place there.
What a stick in business looks like
But in business and personal negotiations between independent parties, threats, intimidation, or the blunt use of the stick are rarely appropriate. Yet other sticks can be applied. Suggesting that a deal the other party wants may not go through, unless certain terms are met, is a stick. Suggesting that a particular element the other party desires will not be included in a deal, unless certain terms are met, is a stick. Suggesting that you wish to end the negotiation or even the relationship, due to unacceptable tactics or behaviours by the other party, in order to get them to stop using such tactics and behaviours, is a stick. These are some appropriate ethical uses of the stick within the armoury of a great negotiator. You may discover others.
The stick is a bare-knuckles negotiation tactic, only to be used at certain times when your carrot incentives fail. Premature or inappropriate use of the stick negatively impacts the negotiation and the relationship with the other party. The cost of such consequences generally outweighs any benefits you might achieve. Alternatively, if the other party calls your bluff and you can’t or don’t follow through on your threat, you lose your perceived power and probably the negotiation as well.
A smart negotiator thinks through the potential effects of any strategy, especially use of the stick. A small or short-term gain at the cost of long-term negative consequences, such as the ruin of the business relationship, is bad business and bad negotiating. Better to simply end on a diplomatic note that costs neither party any serious inconvenience or harm. Great negotiators prefer the carrot, and apply the stick only as a last resort.
And now the correct carrot
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a useful tool in understanding the basic levels of human need and motivation. When you understand the basic needs of the other party – what they are trying to get, and trying to avoid, what is at stake for them at their current level – you can discuss matters in terms that have meaning for them.
For example, when negotiating with someone seeking the highest level of self-actualisation, trying to appeal to his or her more basic needs for safety and security is ineffective.
Conversely, someone whose primary concerns are safety and security will not be moved by idealistic appeals to lofty humanitarian goals. Mahatma Gandhi pointed to this when he said, “To a starving man, God is a loaf of bread.” Great negotiators discern the other party’s primary needs and show them how they can help them fulfil those needs. They know which carrot to use.
Motivation is also promoted in how you use language. Sometimes it’s as simple as promising a reward for success. For example, “There’s a promotion in this for you if you do a good job.” Promises of financial rewards, bonuses, commissions, or share options are also highly motivating carrots.
Remember that people think in images and ideas, not in words. Motivating words convey powerful or appealing images and ideas that evoke promise and potential. Compare the following sentences: “Do you want some ice cream?” and “Try this ice cream. It’s so creamy and smooth, like heavenly ambrosia!” Which is more compelling? Again, consider these sentences: “Would you like a position in our company?” and “We’re looking for someone who really wants to grow and go places with this company, and help us improve the quality of life for many people. Does that sound like you?” Which sounds more inviting and exciting?
Great negotiators motivate people by offering the most powerful carrot. And the most powerful carrot is a vision of how the other party can achieve a meaningful goal, succeed financially, grow professionally, and fulfil their potential, in a way that benefits, enriches, and serves the best interests of both parties.