3 new-year negotiation resolutions

This strapline is the inspiration for many resolutions in January, designed to make you fitter, healthier or to become a better person.

Returning to work after the festive break, to an inbox bursting with adverts and stories promising a leaner and better you in 2017, Chris Webber, Practice Head for The Gap Partnership, was inspired to consider what negotiators should resolve to change this year to be more effective.

Webber took inspiration from what Gap Partnership clients request most frequently, and created: “The Gap Partnership’s Three New Year’s Negotiation Resolutions”

1. Plan

The aspect of negotiation most often overlooked, but the one most clients need to address. It represents 90% of the outcome of agreements, but is frequently the reason most people do not maximise value. Using Gap Tools Interactive is a simple step-by-step process:

• Identify where on the Clock Face (alongside) negotiations are taking place by assessing the relationship, the dependency, the complexity and the level of trust required; then understand the power balance.
• Create a list of negotiation variables or levers.
• Plot your breakpoints.
• Estimate their breakpoints.
• Prioritise the most important variables for you and for them by getting into their head.
• Plan your moves in decreasing sizes, making the most important variables for them hard to obtain.
• Craft your positioning statement to shift power in your favour right at the start.

2. Use a negotiation agenda

An agenda puts you in charge of the process, creates structure and in collaborative agreements can help build trust when shared.

• The agenda is a list of all negotiation variables.
• It can be structured to deal with your important issues first.
• It can be shared ahead of the meeting to ensure assignment.
• It ensures no hidden agenda or nibble tactics can be executed as the pressure grows at the conclusion of the deal.
• It creates clarity.

3. Manage pressure

Pressure is placed on a negotiator when the deal matters, when the outcome is uncertain and when the negotiator realises they are responsible for the agreement. It causes rash decision making and often results in sub-optimising the deal because people buy back their comfort.
• Use silence to think and consider options.
• Practice and role-play scenarios ahead of meetings to predict outcomes and responses.
• Get into the head of the other party and focus on their goals and pressures; that is what drives their behaviour and is the key to maximising value for you.
• Proactively manage your words, tone and non-verbal communication to look and feel confident in your position.
• Go first and anchor your position.

For many, the start of a new year presents an opportunity to do something different. Make your negotiation resolutions the ones that you stick to – they won’t make you live longer, but they will make you happier if you can secure better deals with your counterparts!

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