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The negotiator type you want in your corner

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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 second section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the 26 different personality traits of negotiators you are likely to encounter in the course of your negotiating career are identified. Over the next few weeks we will recommend ways of dealing with each type of negotiator.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

3 The advocate

An advocate negotiates on behalf of another party for any number of reasons. An advocate’s job is to press for the maximum possible advantage on the client’s behalf and to secure that advantage. At the same time, the advocate’s job is to avoid committing the client to complicated or burdensome agreements or obligations, unless they are absolutely essential and justified by the benefits of the deal they are negotiating on the client’s behalf. Sometimes the other party is present at the negotiations and sometimes they are deliberately absent.

Negotiating against an advocate can be a disadvantage, and can become a no-win scenario. An advocate in a negotiation can always avoid a difficult decision or avoid pressure by saying, “I’ll have to confer with my client on that point and get back to you.” So, it’s generally preferable to avoid negotiating with an advocate wherever possible, except in cases where negotiating directly with the client is not possible, is not standard protocol (as when literary agents negotiate with publishers on behalf of authors), or in hostile situations where direct negotiation is too difficult or counterproductive.

When negotiating with an advocate, start by asking him or her to precisely explain the following:

  • His or her mandate for the client.
  • What authority or powers of attorney he or she has to make a decision, a deal, sign a contract, etc.
  • What, if any, limits he or she is operating under in that regard. Will the advocate need to secure the client’s permission to finalise the negotiations?

By starting off in this way, you subtly diminish the power of the advocate by implicitly reducing his or her role to one of a hired hand or messenger. If the advocate doesn’t have the authority to conclude the deal in the client’s absence suggest that the negotiation not proceed until the “real decision-maker” is also present.

Your objective is either to have the decision-maker present or to have the advocate furnish a power of attorney as proof of his or her ability to finalise a negotiation on behalf of the client. If neither option is possible state or imply by word or attitude that this is not a negotiation to conclude an agreement, but rather a fact-finding mission by the client, using the advocate as an information-gatherer. Then proceed with the negotiation, having established an edge and improved your power position through this tactic.

Conversely, if you want to probe a negotiation using an advocate as a buffer and an investigative agent in order to get a better deal, by all means use an advocate. All the elements that were liabilities when you were facing an advocate will now work to your advantage.


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