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Become who you are. Make what only you can make.Friedrich Nietzsche

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Negotiate with agility

Negotiate with agility

Far from being restricted to a balance between well-established forces, negotiation is a process highly subject to uncertainty. How can you maximize your chances of success by developing your ability to adapt to the unexpected?


By nature, the negotiation process is very uncertain. Admittedly, some agreements can be reached quickly. But when the situation demands discussion to determine how to reconcile the various interests involved, many parameters come into play. People spontaneously try to clarify the various types of expectations to reconcile on both sides—budget, deadlines, guarantees, role allocation, etc.—under the implicit assumption that these expectations are clear for everyone. In practice, however, these interests and preferences are not fixed once and for all. They may evolve over the course of the negotiation, as discussion helps everyone better understand and readjust their respective priorities. External factors may also come into play, such as the emergence of a new competitor during a negotiation to launch a joint offering with a partner.

Those who excel in the art of negotiation are both clever strategists and agile improvisers. They establish precise objectives and a solid strategy to attain them. But they are just as careful to adapt their course continuously—including by adjusting their objectives—in light of what they discover along the way. This agility comes primarily from keeping one’s mind open to the unknown and focused on learning. By keeping their cool, good negotiators can not only accommodate the unexpected, but also take maximum advantage of it. Take, for example, the acquirer of a satellite television company, who broke a stalemate by proposing an alternative in which he would become the seller! Both parties ended up benefitting.

This ability to improvise is notably reinforced if confidence can be instilled with the other party to the negotiation. This facilitates the sharing of information and the constructive exploration of creative solutions. It also makes it easier for the parties to make concessions and move toward agreement.

The ability to adopt a stance that is simultaneously trusting and open to the other party and to the unexpected rests on a whole set of techniques and know-how which deserve to be proactively developed. How can you reinforce your chances of successfully concluding a negotiation by most effectively managing the uncertainty inherent to the negotiation process?

In this synopsis:
- Instill a climate of trust in negotiation situations
- Tackle negotiations with a mind open to the unknown
- Underline the value of your concessions in negotiation situations

Synopsis n.240b