The Art of Negotiating Deals

Do we pass any single day without negotiating for something or the other, with someone or the other? No. Everyday we parley and bargain for things, big and small. Similarly, negotiating deals is almost an everyday affair for entrepreneurs too. The art of deal negotiation is a very old one and can be equally lucrative, if done properly. Contrary to common belief, far more is negotiable than entrepreneurs think; they just have to know how to do it and how not to. Mostly the ploy of the representative lawyers is to say that the deal presented is final, and to take it or leave it. However, this even after this it is possible to negotiate a deal further to suit one’s needs and demands.

Roger Fisher and William Ury in their book Getting to Yes define negotiation as a “back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some interests that are shared and others that are opposed.” It is but natural that in a deal negotiation, both parties would want to forward certain self-interests without compromising too much. Negotiating deals is not a process of quibbling over what each party wants or one where either side is a runaway winner. One cannot stubbornly stick to his ground without giving any breathing space to other players. Most likely such a deal will not come through, apart from the fact that it will be an unfair one even if it does.

A successful deal negotiation is one where both parties leave the table satisfied and believe that they have made the best of deal. In this, neither party wins or loses. Such deals are definitely possible to negotiate. Fisher and Ury focus on a method known as ‘principled negotiation’, a method developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project. ‘Principled negotiation’ asserts that the purpose of negotiations is “to decide issues on their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on what each side says it will and won’t do. It suggests that you look for mutual gains wherever possible, and that where your interests conflict, you should insist that the result be based on some fair standards independent of the will of either side.”

To this effect, the following points should be kept in mind while negotiating deals:

1. The people are separate from the problem.

2. Focus should be on interests, not positions.

3. Generating a variety of possibilities and options before deciding what to do is a good idea.

4. The result of negotiation should be based on some objective standard.

The idea is that neither side should be pushed on the defensive; both party would want to work with each other. During negotiations each side is sizing up the other. They will evaluate negotiating skills, intelligence and maturity demonstrated by each other. If the entrepreneur somehow gives an impression that shakes the confidence or trust of the investors, they will withdraw from the deal. Similarly, if the investors show arrogance, rigidity in seeing the entrepreneurs’ needs and points of view and deals with them in a high-handed manner, the entrepreneur will do well to opt out of the deal. The point is that if each side treats the other in which they would want to be treated, most likely each will be successful.

Negotiation Wars – Men Vs Women

There are many factors that go into any negotiation- what style you use (competitive collaborative, accommodating), cultural issues that impact values and habits, and lastly gender. Men and women negotiate differently.

“I want this for this amount,” is a male statement with a goal focus.

“I’d like to know how you came up with that number,” is a female negotiation statement, which is more open ended.

Men view negotiations as a one time event. They are better at negotiating for themselves and reaching individual goals. They are usually more competitive.

Women, on the other hand, often let negotiation opportunities go by, set low goals and concede easily. Unlike men, usually women let their emotions show through, but are more about mutual gains than individualistic tendencies.

Neither style is right or wrong. There are suggestions so that men and women can negotiate more effectively, especially when it is a long term relationship whether business or personal.

First there should be a correcting of impressions. Also look to taking turns talking and possibly moving physically closer together than staying farther apart. Take the opportunities to ask questions. Negotiation, in this case, does require preparation. This would not be a one time negotiation to buy a car, for example.

Men and women can have successful negotiations with a little understanding of the differences that each brings. It is not a hindrance, but a chance to learn how to communicate effectively and for women, an opportunity to level the playing field where sometimes they feel at a disadvantage.

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