Understanding Schools of NegotiationJanuary 26, 2022
Negotiation is an important part of career life. Whether you're negotiating terms with a client or with an employer for a new job, it helps to have some understanding of the negotiation landscape. People vary in their approaches toward negotiation, and some are more ambitious than others.
There are several approaches or "schools" of negotiation, each with its own unique characteristics and goals. Understanding these schools can equip you with the tools to recognize the strategy being adopted by your counterparty. It also gives you a framework to use when preparing for an upcoming negotiation.
Common Schools of Negotiation
The "I'm Only Asking for What's Fair" Approach
The "I'm only asking for what's fair" approach works by sticking closely to industry standards when proposing terms. By only asking for what's considered normal in the industry, it shifts the responsibility to the counterparty. They should then have to provide solid reasoning for why you should accept anything lower.
The "Getting to Yes" Approach
The "getting to yes" approach focuses on fairness and objectivity. It aims to remove emotions and irrationality from the negotiation in order to concentrate on matters of real interest. It utilizes basic principles of fairness that can be easily understood by anybody to neutralize conflict.
The "Offer-Concession" Strategy
This approach is to make an offer that allows you to simultaneously offer concessions to your counterparty. The offer should still leave you with some wiggle room and the ability to compromise further to accommodate their needs.
As such, it's not advised to divulge your bottom line at the beginning and to refrain from doing so unless absolutely necessary.
Understanding Your Counterparty
While you may be preparing to negotiate with your primary contact, it's important to remember that negotiation is often a delegated task.
To avoid being faced with hazardous surprises, be sure to parse your counterpart's constituencies carefully before entering into the negotiation. Make sure the person you'll be negotiating with has the authority to fully represent the company before spending time meeting with them.
Agreeing on a Location
The site of the negotiation can have a subtle impact on the overall proceedings. Suggest upfront that you're willing to travel to them if you think it'll give you an advantage. Traveling to them can create the sense of having done them a favor, which they may feel obligated to reciprocate.
The Importance of Proper Presentation
When presenting a contract proposal, make sure to give due diligence to the presentation. While you might think the contents of the contract are more important than the fine details, people tend to notice flaws. Pay attention to things like font, formatting, and the overall look and feel.
You'll want to have a file type for both reading and editing in case alterations need to be made. If you have an image of the contract, it’s also simple to convert JPG to PDF before sending the final file.
Getting to Know the Schools of Negotiation
Knowing the various approaches to negotiation can be advantageous in a number of ways. It can give you the tools to recognize them in counterparties, which gives you something to work with when negotiating terms with them. It also provides you with a framework for your own preparation.
If you find these topics helpful, consider joining your local chamber of commerce.