The Role of Preparation
Persuasion actually begins long before you meet with the opposing negotiator. A critical component in the persuasion process is preparation. It is important to not just be prepared, but to be extremely prepared for the negotiation.
Preparation involves two aspects:
-The issues under discussion
-Knowing the other party
The Issues under Discussion
This may sound "kinda preachy" but if you don't know what you are talking about, then don't expect to be persuasive!
If you are selling a product, then you
should know your product; you should also know the typical objections to your product and
how to respond to those in a way that treats those concerns seriously. You should also
know your competitor's products.
If you are negotiating a labor contract
(i.e., a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union), then you should be
thoroughly familiar with the issues under discussion. You should also have essential
company, industry, and economic facts ready to use when bargaining. In short, if given an
opportunity to understand the issues under discussion, do so!
Related to this, you should identify as many possible settlement options as possible for each issue. For example, suppose you and your wife were going to meet tonight to discuss how to save $2000 so that you could pay for little Johnny's parochial school tuition. You should identify many possible solutions to this problem (e.g., eat out less, not fix the rust on the car, etc.). One study compared "skilled negotiators" to "average negotiators" and found that skilled negotiators, on average, identified 5.1 settlement options per issue when preparing for negotiations. By contrast, average negotiators only identified 2.6 settlement options per issue when preparing (Rackham, N. 1976, reported in N. Adler, 1986, International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, Boston: PWS/Kent, pp. 165-181). So skilled negotiators prepare!
Knowing the Other Party
You should, as much as possible, try to understand the other party and his or her motivation for negotiating with you. Such understanding involves two aspects:
-Understanding the negotiator's personal motivations
-Understanding the negotiator's professional motivations
Understanding the negotiator's
You should try to understand something about the other side's personal motivation -- is this person motivated by money? A feeling of victory over his opponents? A sense of achievement? While such understanding is not always possible, sometimes it is. Knowing something about "how the other person ticks" may help you tailor your arguments to make them more persuasive to this particular opponent.
|Suppose the opposing negotiator is highly motivated by status and prestige. Assume that you had a "fleet" of motorcycles, but had decided to sell all your worldly possessions in order to move overseas to serve humanity. Which of the following arguments would probably be most persuasive if you were trying to sell someone one of your used motorcycles?|
|"This motorcycle is a Limited Edition -- only 300 of these were sold in the state and this is the only one like it in a three-county area! Did I mention that Jay Leno has one just like it?"|
|"This motorcycle is being sold below wholesale. I hate to sell it this cheap, but I am leaving for the mission field to serve as a missionary next month and I am selling everything I own. You'll have to look pretty hard to find a motorcycle this cheap."|
|"I sold one like this to a friend of yours named Jim; I believe that he referred you to me. Well, you are getting a much better deal than I gave him."|
|"You know this motorcycle is so reliable. It will last you for 30 years if you don't abuse it. And it gets 80 miles to the gallon, so it is quite practical to operate."|