Whether you're negotiating a peace settlement in a war-torn country or a peace settlement in an argument-ravaged relationship, strong preparation is the key to success.
The following three steps will help you establish the three keys to your preparation - why you are involved in the negotiation, how you intend to conduct the negotiation, and what are the specific outcomes you are hoping to agree upon.
Knowing why you are engaged in a negotiation may seem obvious in some situations (to buy a lamp, to stop a fight, etc.), but more complex negotiations generally have more complex purposes.
-Why am I negotiating?
-What are the potential benefits?
-What do I ultimately hope to achieve?
2. Result/Relationship Balance
A "transaction" is high result/low relationship - we get what we want, and the other person is incidental to the exchange. Buying a used car is generally a "transaction".
"Relationship-builders" are meetings, calls, and exchanges of value where developing the relationship between the two parties is far more important than the actual tangible "result" outcome. Early meetings in any project are usually "relationship-builders" - what gets done is far less important than connections being made.
A true "Deal" is where there is a high emphasis on both getting what you want and enhancing your relationship for the future - this "win/win" thinking takes more time and effort, but is essential in any sort of long-term agreement. Successful political (and marital!) negotiations are always predicated on achieving this balance.
Give yourself the following test:
If you had 20 points to distribute between creating the Result you want and enhancing the Relationship, how would you do it?
15/5 - Transaction
5/15 - Relationship builder
10/10 - Deal
3. Outcomes and Options
When it comes to negotiation, having a clear outcome, goal, or target in mind has been shown to be one of the primary determinants in how things come out.
Ask yourself the following questions:
-What specifically do I want?
-What specifically do I think they want?
-What are some plausible options that will get us both what we want?
If you're using this to prepare for an important negotiation, take some extra time to answer the questions AS IF you were the other person in the negotiation. You will be pleasantly surprised at the insights you gain from this process.
Have fun, learn heaps, and the next time you negotiate, do it like a P.R.O.!
Michael Neill is a licensed Master Trainer of NLP and has written over 450 articles on in the areas of business success, money, relationships, health, happiness, well-being, and spirituality. His weekly coaching column is reprinted in newspapers and magazines throughout the world, and can be found online at http://www.geniuscatalyst.com