Secrets to Effectively Negotiating Anything - A Conversation with the
Master Negotiator - Part 2
Today, I continue my conversation with Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator and we discuss topics such as personal vs. business negotiations, why you shouldn't argue with an "idiot", counteroffers, how to prepare for negotiations, and more.
Monica: Is there a major difference between how you negotiate on a personal level versus a business level?
Greg: Yes. Let’s use romantic environment first. First of all, the other individual knows you, knows your mannerisms and knows your style much better than a business associate would know. Therefore, you may say something along the lines of, “Well, you know, this is not going to work.” And the other individual may say something like, “Whatever you’re trying, it’s not going to work. I know what you’re doing,” or something of that nature, and thus you have to use a different approach.
If, for example, you wish to give someone in a romantic environment -- or get that individual to do more of what it is that you’re looking for, you may have to prime the pump a little more than in a business environment. You would react differently in a business environment than you would in a romantic environment or a personal relationship that wasn’t romantic.
Monica: You say to negotiate successfully do not argue with an idiot. What are some key points to identify idiots, so that you don’t waste your time?
Greg: First of all, you always want to qualify someone based on what it is you’re seeking from the negotiation. Going back to that $100,000 situation, you say something along the lines of, “Can you ballpark a salary that I might be able to get as a result of working in XYZ environment?” The person says, “Well, $50,000 is the most you can get.” You say, “Well, how might I be able to reach the $100,000 range given the fact that my base would be $50,000?” “Fifty thousand is all you’re going to be able to get, and you’re not going to be able to get anything else.” Well, right away you start getting cues by the behavior of that individual. Maybe I shouldn’t even waste my time going into this environment because this person may be having an off day. If that’s the case, you can probe more gently by saying something along the lines of, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to irritate you. I was just trying to understand how I could add more value to your environment and thus receive what it is that I am seeking.” The person comes back and says, “Well, I told you it’s only $50,000. Are you stupid?” You know, exit. Nothing further. That’s it. You’re out of there.
Monica: Exit stage left.
Greg: For sure.
Monica: I would imagine that there are many different things that one must keep in mind when negotiating, but is there one common denominator or one specific thing that applies every time?
Greg: Actually not. The reason why I say actually not is because you can negotiate with the exact same person over the exact same thing in a different environment throughout a different day, and the variables will change. So, again, you have to pay attention to not only how the person conveys his or her sense of it through their body language, while you’re matching up the verbiage, but at the same time you have to understand where they are mentally in the negotiation process. So what works today may not necessarily work tomorrow because a change, however subtle, may have occurred. Therefore, you can’t go in with the same game plan thinking this is what I’ve always used, so it’s always going to work. Not so.
Monica: Do you think anyone can become a successful negotiator?
Greg: The answer is a definite yes. Again, you have to understand the nuances that go into making a successful negotiation. Understand you will never win every negotiation. You may try your best to come as close as you possibly can, but given certain circumstances that you’re not aware of you may be thwarted. If that’s the case, you have to know when to back out because the more time you commit to a negotiation, the more you become ingrained in that negotiation. So one ploy may be to get the other negotiator to invest more and more, while psychologically knowing that that negotiator is going to become worn down over time and will become susceptible to accepting less than what he was seeking.
Monica: When negotiating, how many counteroffers should you have in reserve?
Greg: Depending upon the circumstances, you can have multiple counteroffers in hand, but you want to apply them in a judicious manner. You do so based upon the circumstances. Again, going back to that $100,000 situation, the other negotiator says, “I can give you $90,000.” That’s a lot different than, “I tell you what, I can give you $90,000.” In the latter situation, you might come back with a counteroffer of, “If I could” – notice I preface it by saying “if” because that allows you to back out if the other party doesn’t mean what they’re saying. “If I can do this at $90,000, might I have an additional $20,000 in expenses?” You always want to have something that can add up to at least what you’re looking for and/or something that overshoots what you would be getting if the other party gave you, in this case, the $100,000 that you were asking for. So hypothetically you say, “If I settle for the $90,000, can I get an extra $20,000 for expenses and car, a house at company expense? I would also like to have my children attend private school paid for by the company.” You keep building and building and the other person says, “Never mind. I tell you what; you’ve got the $100,000.” So, again, it’s all according to the tactic you wish to employ and how you present and position your counteroffers.
Monica: What is your view on the current state of the economy and how we, meaning the U.S., can negotiate with other countries to improve our economic status? Would you say that our ability to survive as a nation depends on negotiations with other countries? Would negotiation be a major part of our getting out of the situation that we’re in?
Greg: The answer is a definite yes. The United States is in a precarious situation right now given the fact that most recently the dollar has lost its prestige against other currencies around the world. Our debt is also playing an important part in how other countries view us. So to the degree that we appear to be strong and can pull ourselves out of this quagmire, we can present ourselves differently and position ourselves differently than if we went hat in hand to say, “You have to help us out.”
China, one of our greatest partners as far as covering much of our debt, does not want to see us default. So they have a vested interest in the United States becoming financially better. At the same time they would not want the U.S. to become so financially set that they, China, would have the U.S. become a threat in other parts of the world. So, again, it’s the give-and-take of negotiations that are going on between not only the U.S. and China but also among other entities and other countries around the world. The manner in which the U.S. positions and presents itself plays a major role in what the U.S. can do.
Monica: Once both parties agree on the deal that has been made, what can you do to ensure that the other party does not back out of the deal?
Greg: First of all, you want to make sure that both parties understand what is to come forth from the agreement that has been entered into. You also want to make sure that the other party not only is in agreement but is satisfied with the outcome that you have worked so hard for. Congratulate the other individual on being fair and equitable and be sincere. I say that to say if the person was fair and equitable, you say so. If the person was tough, you say so. You give that person a comment that indicates you understand that you have been in a negotiation with an individual who understands the process and who knows what he wants. “Boy, oh boy. I tell you what. You really did get a good deal out of me.”
Be humble in appearance while you congratulate the other individual, and tell the other individual what your expectations are for what is to occur next. “Okay. So now that we have concluded this deal, the product is going to be delivered on the 30th of the month. We will receive payment by the 15th of the month. If there are any maintenance requirements that are attached to this agreement, we will address any such actions within a 24 hour time period.” You, in essence, go over the final agreement, listen to the words that come back and observe the body language.
If there is a disconnect, an incongruity between the words and the actions, between the words and the body language, observe the body language more. If you sense that this individual may have any inkling of looking for a back door, as we call it in negotiations, you address that immediately. “Well, you know, I heard you say yes, but you shook your head no. Which is it?” “Oh, I’m sorry. Yes. The answer really is yes.” Now if they’re saying yes while they are motioning toward you and waving their hands as if to say go away, again, there is an incongruity and you want to address that point. So watch the body language while they are saying what they are conveying to you.
Monica: How do you actually prepare for negotiations? You know you have this opportunity for a deal that’s coming up. How do you prepare your mindset for it?
Greg: First of all, do your background gathering of information. Find out everything that you can about the target with whom you will be negotiating as soon as you possibly can. As an example, why are they negotiating? Why is it that they are negotiating with you? What other resources can they bring to bear on this situation that might allow them to have leverage? What resources do you have that you could use as leverage? What will the other individual do if they can’t close the deal with you? How much time do they actually have to close the deal? Where else can they go to get additional assistance and time to save the deal? What happens if they can’t get the deal? What happens if they don’t have sufficient resources to get the deal? Who else can they align themselves with?
There is a conglomerate of questions that you need to ask yourself and be able to answer. After that, you want to map the course the negotiation may take and have alternative courses if you have to renew the negotiation. You also have to know how to get back on the path you need to be on in order to have a successful outcome. If you put all of those thoughts and plans together, you will act upon what you have to do, like a chess game, thinking three, four, five moves ahead. If they do X, and you thought they were going to do Y, you have a contingency plan in place to address X as opposed to Y. That’s how you put your whole negotiation scenario together. That’s how you become more successful with the outcome you’re seeking.
Monica: In parent to child situations, is that a good reason to learn negotiation skills?
Greg: Well, yes, but from whose perspective, the child or the parent? We are truly born negotiators. Your mother says, “No, you can’t have such and such.” “Why not?” The mother says, “Because I don’t want it to spoil your appetite.” “Well, that’s okay. I’ll still be able to eat later.” You have these rebuttals that you come back with automatically. But as we become older and as we become adults, we learn not to ask why not. It’s not appropriate in certain environments, and we start to dumb ourselves down. If we were to allow ourselves to act like kids sometimes when we’re negotiating, I mean to a degree, one could end up achieving more throughout any negotiation. People will sit on their hands without trying to negotiate in certain situations because they’re afraid of either losing what it is that they’ve already gained, they don’t know what tactics to use and they don’t want to be perceived as a buffoon or something worse. Thus they won’t even make an effort.
Sure. Parents and children truly learn from one another as they’re going through the negotiation process. The mother finally gets fed up and says, “Go ask your father.” The kid is saying, “Daddy, Mommy told me to ask you if it’s all right to have the ice cream that I’m getting ready to get.”
Monica: They even know how to word it.
Greg: Exactly. The kid positions it as if it’s a done deal. We lose those tendencies as we become older because we become more refined, whatever the heck that is.
With every good wish for great achievements,
Monica Davis, Founder
Exceptional People Magazine
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