Asking for a raise, bidding for a promotion, debating a curfew with your unrelenting teenager…. These scenes don’t exactly conjure up pleasant, heartwarming images, do they?
Negotiating is an anxiety-inducing endeavor for many, who fear coming across as overly assertive, insensitive or confrontational – or, even worse, losing control of the situation. If we reframe our perspective, however, we realize that negotiating is far broader than a zero-sum “winner-take-all” game.
Truth be told, we negotiate all the time, more often than not to gain alignment, foster cooperation, decide a direction, mediate conflict or facilitate consensus. Viewed through this prism, the ability to effectively negotiate is an essential life skill for everyone, and especially for senior managers.
“Very few of us would describe ourselves as ‘negotiation naturals’,” explains Prof. Joan Roure of IESE’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Negotiation Teaching Unit. “Fortunately, it’s a skill that can be developed which starts by gaining a deeper awareness of our unique style and the distinct phases of the negotiating process.”
Many commonly associate negotiating with adversarial, contentious or competitive situations, but this needn’t be the case. Negotiations can also be collaborative, cooperative or “coopetive”, a term Prof. Roure uses to describe “win-win” situations in which parties seek positive outcomes for everyone, not just their individual objectives.
“Knowledge is power” is another important tenet of effective negotiations so a word to the wise: do your homework, and go armed with information and a clear strategy. Attentive listening, cultivating a positive dynamic and exploring creative “expanding the pie” alternatives are also essential.
“A lot of negotiations end in deadlock because the parties are unable to come up with creative, integrative deals. People always need to remember that power in a negotiation is never absolute: it is always relative. Power stems from looking for alternatives, not only for our position, but for the other side, as well,” notes Prof. Kandarp Mehta of IESE’s Entrepreneurship and Negotiation Teaching Unit.
The impact of globalization adds another layer of complexity, as senior managers will increasingly negotiate with clients, suppliers and colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds.
As Prof. Mehta observes, “Addressing cross-cultural differences is an absolute must in today’s international business arena. Culture shapes our worldview and the way we perceive and create our own reality, so the better we understand our counterparts’ cultural framework, the greater our chances of success at the negotiating table.”
Learn more about IESE’s focused program “High Performance Negotiator” is an intense learning experience that empowers senior managers to become better negotiators. Don’t miss the next edition at IESE’s Barcelona campus on July 1-3, 2019.