Whether you are about to meet one-on-one or with a larger group of people to begin the negotiation process, be aware that the best outcomes typically stem from good pre-planning and managing the actual interaction with purpose and sensitivity.
Too often, when faced with the challenge of incorporating other points of view, we rush to getting our opinions out first without really authentically hearing and assimilating valid opinions others may have. Certainly as when baking a cake, we don’t use every single ingredient available for fear of coming up with a not so quality final dessert. In the same vein, reaching consensus really means taking the “best” from all to arrive at the optimal end-result.
Here are some tips for making interaction with your contact a rich and fruitful one:
Do your homework
Before your meeting, be clear what your stance and opinions are on key issues. You should be able to clearly and logically articulate your working premise which will be based on the best and most up-to-date facts you have access to and informed assumptions you make.
Know what you want
You should have a clear sense of what the variables are around an issue. Know beforehand those items which are non-negotiable and those where there is room for negotiation. Part of being fully prepared is playing out in your head the ideal outcome scenario and comparing it to other options you can imagine.
Establish negotiation ground rules
Once you are face-to-face with your contact(s), mutually agree to the time frame for the meeting, a broad agenda and what specifically you want to accomplish by the end of the session. It may be that in the course of the conversation new relevant ideas and issues surface. Do your best to honor these and figure out if they are relevant to the current meeting goals. Sometimes it is best to pause and address them immediately. In other cases, you will want to set up separate future meetings to deal with the topics. Should you be making good progress towards negotiation and run out of time, there is no need to rush final closure items; simply agree to a future date to complete the tasks at hand.