By Japhé Mercier
Negotiation is a fundamental part of our day-to-day lives. Whether we like it or not, we are often obligated to immerse ourselves in negotiation, particularly in business settings.
Negotiation is a means of obtaining, through persuasive approaches and strategies, wants and needs from others. Negotiation comes in many forms, formal and informal, generally to settle disputes, reach agreements, or make key decisions.
Whether you are trying to obtain a better price from a supplier or to obtain a wage increase from your employer, you are in a bargaining situation of negotiation. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, it is important to sharpen your skills in the field of negotiation now in order to learn how best to get ahead and make satisfactory decisions for all parties involved.
Understanding the need to avoid extremes
When negotiating, there can typically be two extremes. The first is the “moderate or flexible negotiator” who is willing to make concessions, and the other is the “rigid or inflexible negotiator” who refuses concessions. The best strategy is to avoid both extremes, thus promoting flexibility between actors. This type of negotiation, honest and in good faith, protects negotiators from any exploitation by an unfair adversary.
Determining your objectives
You need to prepare for the negotiation and focus on the interests at stake, not the predefined positions. This involves determining your objectives and means of achieving them without forgetting the interests and objectives of the other party. Be aware of your limitations and define how far you are prepared to go.
Establishing common ground
Imagine a win-win solution. It is a good idea to ask for a little more than you are willing to accept, knowing it might be lessened in some way, but do not let yourself be backed into a corner. Start by settling the easiest points, establishing common ground and mutual trust, and using positive and inclusive terms such as “our points of agreement,” “our shared vision,” “our interests.” Discuss important issues face to face, and try to negotiate only with the decisionmaker.
Allowing for compromise
During discussions it is important, even essential, to make concessions, especially after reaching a point of no return. Offer your opponent a relevant concession when necessary and allow for compromise that might alter your original objectives.
Evaluating and reconsidering
If you feel close to the end of the negotiation, make sure you have made a good deal that adheres to your objectives at the beginning and allows for compromise. Otherwise, reconsider certain aspects, summarize the most important points of the agreement, and set yourself forward more clearly on relevant objectives.
We must also seek to build lasting relationships with our partners when we negotiate. Thus, avoid leaving bitter tastes on their lips. They must not feel exhausted, shocked, upset, or dissatisfied. Good negotiations must be opportunities to secure business in the future between equal partners.
Japhé Mercier from Haiti is an economist, entrepreneur, and social activist. Japhé has been a YLAI Network member since 2017. He is very passionate about involving more people to make a difference in Haiti and sharpen their business skills.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YLAI Network or the U.S. government.