Posts Tagged ‘negotiations’
Technology is making us more nimble, proactive, and better-suited to meet our customers’ needs. Smart phones are making us more connected, easily accessible and productive. Show of hands: at the root of those two statements, who disagrees? Remember, remove any personal biases you may have toward technology and smart phones–the question refers to the root of those two statements. I’m assuming, at this point, that there are no hands in the air. I can’t disagree either, so count me in the group not raising his or her hand.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, allow me to bring in my personal bias: I prefer face-to-face communication. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of technology and everything it offers; I challenge you to find one industry that has not been improved, in some way, directly as a result of technology. And smart phones…I have owned my iPhone for around two months and I don’t know how I survived without it: I can simultaneously find the nearest Italian restaurant, map the shortest route to that restaurant, send the address in a text message to my friend, all the while listening to You Can’t Always get What You Want by The Rolling Stones.
So, as you can clearly see, I have embraced technology and smart phones. However, I am still partial to face-to-face, in-person communication. Think about all the aspects of communication that are lost due to our increasing reliance on virtual means: body language, facial expressions, instant feedback, just to name a few. These missing pieces can lead to numerous unintended outcomes, three of which being: a longer, more drawn-out conversation; misinterpretations of meaning; and the need for clarification where it may not normally be needed.
Conference calls and WexEx’s have become the default when planning a meeting these days, and a lot of the reasoning comes from having geographically-dispersed project teams and clients in different locations and, perhaps even more so, due to restricted travel budgets. On the other hand, there are some engagements in which WebEx meetings should be the exception to the rule. Last week I was doing some research on the topic of negotiations, and came across an article that highlighted an interview conducted with an expert in the field. The interview centered around conducting negotiations via email. Upon beginning to read the article, I imagined two conference rooms separated by thousands of miles, each with a group of people huddled around a computer crafting a response to the other party: “Write this, that will show them!” “Type this, I’d like to see what they say to that!” “Are they serious? Give me that keyboard…” I could go on like this for some time, but let me state my point: in a face-to-face encounter this kind of back-and-forth is not likely to happen and, as a result, the negotiation will tend to be much more productive for both sides.
So, when planning your next meeting, examine the objectives you would like to get out of the meeting, and if it seems like those objectives can be achieved virtually, great. However, if there is the potential for unintended misinterpretations or the need for instant feedback, don’t discount the face-to-face meeting. You may be surprised at how productive your meeting becomes.
I’d like to know what your thoughts and experiences are on this topic.
Just as in Greek mythology where the sirens lured ancient mariners to their destruction upon the rocky shores, the sweet song of business wisdom lures us into thinking that we should plan for a “win-win” outcome when negotiating.
I disagree. It’s not that I think both parties should walk away from the bargaining table unhappy. No, it’s that planning for discussions using any competitive approach—using “win” or “lose” terminology—puts us in the wrong frame of mind for impactful, fruitful discussions.
Rarely does anyone “win” a negotiation. If we are even thinking about winning a negotiation, we’re starting out on the wrong path. The need for victory gives rise to hubris and the means, not the desired end state, becomes the focus of our planning.
Sadly, this compulsion for victory diverts attention from why we are in the discussion in the first place. Our focus should be on achieving our interests, not winning or losing. Look at it another way: if we get most of what we are looking for—but not all—did we win? On a competitor’s scoreboard, the answer is “No.” But did we lose? Of course not! We are well on our way toward where we want to be.
So forget “win-win.” Think results … in meaningful, measurable terms. The sirens may be disappointed, but both parties will be better off!