The basics of professional negotiation

Do you think that business is a battle? Do you think that the stronger personality wins at the end in a negotiation? Do you bargain on the price and always get a discount?

Maybe they are not ideal qualities for doing business. My experience with dozens of companies and hundreds of negotiations made me learn some very important things.

Especially the difference between negotiating in a professional manner – and a profitable manner – and bargaining where the objective is to win no matter what. And I’m sorry, but your interlocutor will always find a way to have his revenge.

In this article I want to introduce some key elements of a professional negotiation.

I am a very competitive person and at the beginning of my career as an entrepreneur, I approached every negotiation as a struggle in which I wanted to win. I had generally good arguments, because I always prepared myself very well, so I know as much information as I could about my interlocutor and, possibly, some of his weaknesses as well.

This, my “battle” trading strategy, brought me results and frustration, but overall didn’t allow me to achieve the goals I wanted at that time. That’s why I wanted to learn the professional methods of negotiation and I made the leap as an entrepreneur, and I would say as a person as well.

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I have written a previous article that I suggest you to read, about the 6 components of an effective negotiation. In this new article, instead I want to introduce 4 basics concepts regarding negotiation.

These 4 concepts are explained obviously during my Wake Up Call Seminar, the first seminar in Italy that teaches you to negotiate in a professional way for your activities as an entrepreneur and/or investor. So we do not teach you to become a negotiator for third parties, but … from your side only.

1) Separate the people from the problems, that is never make it personal
“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business”. Maybe you heard this phrase in the movies, said by the ruthless business man (or ganster) on duty. But it’s absolutely true: a negotiation and in general when you do business, you must always leave out personal issues.

When you negotiate, or when two parties want to achieve both beneficial results for themselves, never argue with people. You’re not arguing about who’s right or wrong, who is smarter or more prepared, of who wins or loses. What matters is that we want to get results and to reach them, you need to solve the problems.

The “personal” problems typically arise for three reasons:
Perceptions: people have different perceptions on the same things. It is, therefore, necessary to align perceptions with an objective way in order to eliminate a first potential source of “personal” conflict.

Emotions: people have emotions and you have to figure out which are their emotions and how to manage them with the right communication techniques

Communication: many problems simply rise from poor communication, in turn influenced by perceptions and emotions. If we communicate effectively, we can eliminate this source of problems and manage the other two sources.

2) Focus on interests, never try to be the strongest one.
As I said before, as long as I handled the negotiations as a battle, I have had, overall, unsatisfactory results. But when I focused on the interests, both mine and the other party, I have got good results.

So it is essential to highlight and discuss their interests in order to put them on the negotiation. From there you can then start to find satisfactory agreements for both parties.

As you can see it is a concept completely different than “I win, you lose” and makes clear what is meant by “win-win” in an effective negotiation both parties get as much as possible and that is the common goal.

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3) Create options, ie “let see how to do it”
When you have solved the problems of customization and put on the negotiation the interests you have created the basis to work together in finding all the options. “Together” is the key concept: both sides need to be active in finding creative options to achieve the desired results.

In fact, problems often arise in this phase. It may be that there it is evidence of an early “solution” in the negotiations, when all the elements have not yet been clarified, and then you have an unsatisfactory solution which limits other possibility.

Or is it possible that one party thinks that it is the responsibility of the other party to find and propose the solution. But this again does not allow expressing the full potential of the situation.
At this stage it is essential to work together and with creative tools to find viable options for both parties to choose the best solution.

4) Define objective criteria, ie “we leave aside opinions”. Also this element, like the first one we discussed at the beginning of this article, came from the tendency to make things personal and to put into the negotiation emotions, distortions of perception and communication problems.

In this case, it means concretely finding objective criteria for measuring the results, in order to eliminate the personal things and subjective components and make it possible to reach agreements based on facts and therefore shared reasons.

If, for instance, we are negotiating the purchase of a property and we are dealing with an owner who asks an off-market price, we can use information on the market trend on sales of similar properties, economic scenarios and also present information on possible scenarios for the other party.

In any case, we will have to create a rational and objective substrate of elements on which to base the negotiation.

The summary of this article is as follows:

Eliminate any emotional components and involve the counterpart to find a solution together. It is very likely that you can already, with these simple concepts, drive a negotiation, and get as much as you can from the situation.

Professional negotiation is, in my view, a tool that every entrepreneur should learn, because if you can use technicians to do the technical stuff, it is not realistic to delegate the negotiation. This does not mean that you do not have professional negotiators that can help you. I have done it and will do it again, but I always want to be able to handle a negotiation in a professional and profitable way.

In the Wake Up Call seminar you can learn one of the most strategic business tools. Also because a few of your interlocutors will have a professional preparation on negotiation and then you can easily get the leadership with what you learn in the seminar.

Believe me, there are few “natural negotiators” and very often those who believe to be are instead the worst enemy of their own success (as I wrote before it happened to me, but now I have learned).

To your financial freedom,
Alfio Bardolla

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