Sean: What makes negotiation so difficult? Because a lot of people shy away from it. They would rather not do it, than have to negotiate. What makes it easier for you?
Bruno: There are two aspects of negotiation. So first of is the personal aspect of this negotiation process.
So this means the relationship, is probably the most important aspect of the negotiation process. So the personalized negotiation, then you have what we call the substantive aspect of negotiation. This means price, quantity, quality, or the things that its condition should be negotiated, and if you are negotiating with an employee; it will be salary, time for work, and so on.
In the negotiation process, the only type of agreement that counts is the win-win type of agreement. This means that both parties are benefiting from this agreement. When you have win-win agreements, you are more prone to have a long-term relationship with your counter negotiator. Because when both parties are satisfied, the relationship you made might not just be for this agreement only, it may blossom in other future agreements.
Now, the biggest mistake in negotiation is not identifying the needs of others. Because you cannot satisfy your counter negotiator’s need if you don’t know what do they really want on your agreement and vice versa. So a very important question to ask yourself while negotiating; what is this party trying to achieve? What are their main needs? What are their main interests? And then we can express our interests too, to see if there is a common ground.
Companies and individuals should always keep that in mind to preserve the relationship. The relationship is the most important aspect of negotiation. So I always like to quote a very famous author in negotiation, who observed that “You have to be hard with the problems, and soft with people. Hard with problems, and soft with people.” I like this approach. This is a book that was written a long time ago, and the author stated that based on his observations, that people tend to be a bit emotional during negotiation, that they say things that can be or might be offensive to others.
You can get a bit aggressive during the negotiation process. And if you are, you won’t be compassionate, you won’t be empathetic. And this is not good for the relationship and also not good for the transaction, negotiation, and potential agreement. So this means that emotions should be not on the table during a negotiation process.
Try to look for these interests that are related to the other party, and try to look for ways to connect, not only from the business perspective but on an emotional level. Why is this person or why this company is trying to get these interests? What things are important for them? What is relevant for them? You can also try to use terminologies like “we”, “our agreement”, “our goal”. Not the ones that show individualism, such as “I”, or “my interests”. We can always say “our agreement”, “our potential agreement”, “our sharing of this information”, but also try to always look for other ways to satisfy the other party’s interest.
The only way for this negotiation to succeed and have a relationship that can stand for a long-time is that the agreement should always be win-win or mutually profitable. In some cases, you can think creatively about how you approach the negotiation process. I will also say that it is important in trying to understand the other person’s point of view, even if it could be conflicting with yours.
Because what makes a negotiation interesting, is that we might have different views on the transaction and might have different ways of dealing with relationships; at the end of the day, a mutual agreement is what we are looking for.
But we must always try to remember that we should focus on two things; the substantive aspect and the personal aspect of business during the negotiation.