Of all the skills we can develop within the workplace, the ability to influence and persuade people in an ethical way is one of the most valuable, because we are able to help people see our perspective, while also seeing their point of view as well.
When you have a position in mind and are able to discuss it with others so that they see the benefits of your position as well, you have power in your armoury that will help you win and enable others to win as well.
This movement of positions can be called negotiating, and it would be good to review some of the tactics you can use when working with clients and see how they can be used when asking for movement of positions within the working environment, i.e. your boss or co-workers.
Let’s look at this in detail:
Like in all situations, being prepared gives you confidence and assurance that you can deal with meetings and discussions where you are putting your viewpoint across, while determining the view of the other party. You need to have all the bases covered, so prepare what you see as your end goal first and then reverse-engineer backwards for the journey to get there.
Identify why you are taking your position and back it up with logical facts and assertions. Bear in mind others will be seeing things from a different angle, so be prepared to find out their views.
When prepared, you give yourself better chances to see what options are available, rather than just thinking there is just one way you can achieve your goals.
Find out their position by intense listening
This ensures you are determining clarity on their position too, so you can measure the gap between the two. By listening, you can also find out why they are taking their position.
The best way to do this is non-judgementally. It can be difficult at times, as we are often emotionally connected to our position, but if we are able to be dispassionate and distance ourselves from the emotional aspects of what we are negotiating on, we will see it clearer and without the rose-tinted glasses that can distort our judgement.
Remain in control
When you get frustrated or overheated because your position isn’t being assessed or taken into account, it can be easy to get a bit belligerent or argumentative.
This is the time when you have to control your emotions and see it from all perspectives. Remember that your boss or colleague may well have reasons for their position that is really important to keep, so look at it from their angle too and maintain your emotional control.
Keep the lines of communication open
Negotiating in the workplace often involves skills that are displayed in other situations, and good quality communications is one of the key ones. This is why adequate preparation is so important.
If the other party does not understand the rationale behind your negotiated position, no amount of technique or trickery will get them to see your position.
Clear, open and concise communication opens the door to movement, and this will encourage the other party to be open too, allowing both of you to build your case and hopefully move closer together.
Move to the position of collaboration
One definition of collaboration is for both parties to move your positions so that you enjoy mutual agreement. Often, negotiations get stuck because one or more parties only see things from their perspective and there is very little movement between the two.
Instead, put both parties’ positions on the table, identify the interests behind those positions and then look at options and alternatives that would help you achieve a closer agreement, dealing with those invested interests rather than being stuck with dogmatic positions that might prove to be immovable.
Take the position of win/win
As we discussed, when we collaborate, we see the other points of view as well as our own. Look for agreements rather than discrepancies. Aim for a win/win situation, where they can see they get something for their movements while seeing the reasons why they should shift somewhat closer to your ideas.
By seeing a win/win scenario unfolding, both of you will be willing to agree to move, as you will see that agreement serving you better than keeping your distance from each other.
Keep clarifying all the way through
You may often assume that the other person has moved their position and you move on from there. However, don’t always assume you have got what you want; clarification is an important step in all negotiations.
If you believe you have obtained movement from the other party, make it clear what you have agreed before moving on. This will not only give you a firm foundation on which to build the next stage of the negotiation, but also prevent those little misunderstandings that can affect the overall agreement. It’s not good to have to say later ‘I thought you meant….’ When it was not really meant that way.
Finish and confirm
When you’ve gained some form of agreement, remember to confirm every action that will be taken from now on. You don’t want to go through the motions, only to find out that nothing transpires afterwards.
Be clear on what will happen next so you’re both singing from the same song sheet. You may have to get something in writing so that all parties agree with what has happened following the negotiation process. This will place the importance of the negotiation clear in their minds and alleviate disagreements afterwards.
As you can see, negotiation in the workplace holds a lot in common with your negotiations with clients. The only difference really will be in the people you negotiate with. If you can be assured of your position first, with the back-up rationale behind it, you will have the confidence to negotiate with anyone within your company and see successful results for both parties.