Negotiation Strategies That Build Consensus: Part I

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Whether you are negotiating the details of a job offer or trying to reach consensus on a project direction with a co-worker, the rules of the road are cooperation and mutual respect.

The new attitude that we hope for is no longer like a sneaky poker game where all you care about is how many chips you get in the end. Instead, it is about being honest, calm and collaborative as opposed to manipulative, emotional and defensive.

Here are some good tips to assure that the lines of communication are open and “ready for business” when it comes to begin talking in depth with your contact:

-Recognize how your contact is most comfortable communicating

Instead of rushing in immediately with your “wish-list” of needs, take some time to understand how the person across from you is most comfortable communicating. Does he speak slowly and needs to go through details methodically? Does she respond better to a timed agenda rather than just an open-ended meeting? Does he have a short attention span and need a quick executive summary upfront and then the details afterwards?

-Know your own style of communicating and begin to flex towards theirs

Learn to communicate authentically by not changing who you are but by “flexing” towards their style. You may want to abbreviate discussing the process of negotiation with a results-driven individual who may want to have you voice your point of view right away. Or for the more detail oriented person you may want to send an outline of key points to cover before your actual interface so they do not feel pressured to arrive at decisions “on the spot”

-Strive for active listening skills

If you both are truly committed to reaching a consensus, have faith in the process you mutually establish. Don’t be concerned that you won’t have enough “air time” and resist interrupting. Feel free to take notes while your contact is elaborating his or her point of view. In the same vein, play back what they have said to make sure you have both heard and understood their words. After they have finished, you should open up dialogue for key points. Use language such as “tell me more about what you just said about X” or “I am intrigued by why you took the stance you did…could you tell me how you arrived at that conclusion?”

About the Author

Bradford Agry is Founding Principal of CareerTeam Partners, a New York City career management consulting firm. Agry works with individuals in industries ranging from finance to marketing to communications helping them identify and actualize career transitions.