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Negotiation: Turning Bad News Into Good

October 30, 2012

Picture this: “Time for my favorite thing in the world – negotiation!” crows Jack Donaghy. 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon cringes.  And then a testosterone-infused skirmish produces an absurd outcome – as two combatants’ need to win once again hijacks their common sense.

biz-110214_30Rock2.grid-6x2MJ Tocci, co-founder of a Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women, points out why this scene is both funny and familiar:   “So many of us see negotiation as a competitive, conflict driven contest … and the fear of losing can make negotiation daunting. That brings bad news and good news.

The bad news is that negotiation is an essential skill for resolving conflict, building your brand, doing good work, managing deadlines, and getting paid what you are worth.

The good news is that there are many ways to get there. I often ask my negotiation students to substitute the phrase ‘creative problem solving’ for ‘negotiation’ when they get stuck in their positions.

Often what was competitive becomes more collaborative as you explore different options. Shouting or posturing is replaced by questioning and listening, assumptions are recognized and updated, and outcomes become more satisfying for all involved.

Does this work all the time? No, but it works more than you might think.”

The next time you are ready to ask for something you need or deserve, MJ recommends that you consider creative and strategic prompts like:

  1. What’s the outcome I want most?
  2. Where am I if I don’t ask for it … and where am I if I do?
  3. What are several different ways I could get what I want?
  4. What facts would make it clear that there is an advantage to both sides when we agree to pursue the outcome I am seeking?
  5. What is the best timing for my request?
  6. Who can help me influence decision makers?
  7. What’s my response to “no”?

Your response to #7 is important – because in the world of negotiations, “no’ is merely a position from which to negotiate again.

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