Can You Negotiate Like a Statesman?

Whatever your political leaning, recent months have put the negotiation skills of our political elite in the spotlight.

As a trained negotiator myself I have been both fascinated and appalled at the apparent lack of aptitude for the role of broker expected at the highest levels of politics. We need Kennedys, Khrushchevs and Gandhis…Johnsons even.

So what is negotiation? Simply put it’s a process for two parties to find an acceptable solution to a complicated conflict.

What kind of negotiator are you? A Donald, a Theresa, a Neville, a Tusk or a JFK?

I believe there are five categories of negotiators: Aggressive, Passive, Naïve, Suspicious, and Principled. Untrained negotiators will have characteristics of the first four.

Aggressive (a Donald): “Win or lose” negotiators see others as adversaries and their ultimate goal is a victory, bargaining is to increase their own value and decrease their opponent’s. They will search for a single answer and insist you agree on it. Donald Trump writes about ‘The Art of the Deal’, yet as this week’s Greenland/Denmark “real estate” fiasco proves, if he doesn’t immediately get his own way he resorts to Twitter to vent his indignation.

Passive (a Theresa): A passive negotiator will make offers that are too sacrificial, yielding to others’ demands to maintain good relations with fellow negotiators. Theresa May’s ‘submissive’ Brussels Brexit negotiations delivered a passivity tantamount to surrendering the UK to something like war reparations, with both Remainers and Brexiteers uniting against her proposals.

Naïve (a Neville): In a similar vein, overly trusting negotiators such as Neville Chamberlain and his appeasement of Hitler is a prime example of a negotiator avoiding conflict at all costs, easily trusting others and becoming susceptible to manipulation.

Suspicious (a Tusk): A suspicious negotiator gets so bogged down in the details of an agreement through fear of being cheated, that nothing moves forward and inertia results. The big picture of the overall potential an agreeable transaction would create is lost by obsessive focus on the small stuff, causing stalemate. Donald Tusk and ‘the backstop’ perhaps?

Principled (a JFK): “Win-Win” negotiators look to find a solution satisfactory to both parties. They focus on the problem rather than passions of the people involved, separating personalities from the issue and exploring interests that aim for results based on fair standards independent of personal will. JFK and Khrushchev were the classic negotiators for world peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis achieving a balanced agreement between two superpowers. Will Boris be able to pull off a similar success with the EU. We hope so.

Negotiations in the business world usually carry with them considerably lower stakes than those involving the threat of violence, nevertheless, good negotiation is vital in both.

Where a “win-lose” negotiator is manipulative, forcing and withholding information, a “win-win” negotiator collaborates, fairly sharing a variable amount of resources, the goal being to optimise joint outcomes using co-operation, sharing information and mutual problem solving, AKA ‘Creating Value’ so that both sides leave the negotiation feeling they have “won”.

BATNA prepared

A good negotiator will also have a BATNA up their sleeve—a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement—providing an acceptable fallback position if they can’t negotiate everything they want.

It’s good business

In a negotiation, you must be open and display trust in order to achieve the optimum result, but you also want to avoid showing inexperience and appearing a walkover, so how do you find the fertile centre ground? Quite simply, through training because negotiation skills are learned and are rarely naturally acquired.

Negotiation Skills Masterclass

Carol Barwick Learning and Development (CBLD) Ltd, has developed a Masterclass in developing negotiation skills, designed for the business environment.

Influencing others without manipulation is a key life skill. Great influencers maintain good relations using persuasiveness to get what they want, negotiating effectively to get the best possible deal.

  1. Masterclass: How to Influence, Persuade & Promote

A high energy, practical introduction to sales and negotiation packed full of techniques, tools and tips for non-sales people

This masterclass is a fast-paced mixture of facilitator-led discussion and debate, group exercises and bespoke case studies, with regular feedback sessions on effective approaches to sales and negotiation.

Even if you don’t work in a formal sales role, we all sell and negotiate with colleagues, customers and suppliers every day, often without even realising it. This course examines how to prepare, what to say, and how to handle questions and objections so that your next “sale” is a success. Recognise and understand your personality type and the different strategies and skills needed to plan an effective approach. The course is designed to develop the skills to get the best results from every interaction.

Learning intentions:

  • Understanding how and why customers buy
  • Demystifying the sales process
  • Using a range of influencing styles with different personalities
  • Improving relationships with regular customers
  • Applying key preparation and planning techniques
  • Using confident closing techniques

In business, many situations contain elements of both hard bargaining and soft bargaining. For example in price negotiations with a supplier your interests to some degree oppose the supplier’s (i.e. you want a lower price and they want a higher one), but you still want both your interests to coincide because you want the relationship to be ongoing and each transaction to be mutually beneficial.

This course establishes the ground rules for effective negotiations time after time and is backed by testimonials from public and private sector clients including those from Manufacturing, Housing, Retail, NHS, Fire & Rescue Service, Probation Service, Government Agencies and Charities.

For more information on the full range of CBLD Ltd’s great value bespoke coaching and training courses, please contact me.