Fear of the "No"

Mark Monlux created a presentation as a contract tutorial for graphic designers, providing guidance on how to negotiate contracts, but it also offers a lot of good information about contract negotiation in general. I particularly enjoyed the part about the reluctance of graphic designers to use the "Power Word" - No.

"Fear of the No", i.e. fear of losing a project by not agreeing to all client demands, can and does lead to contractors involving themselves in unprofitable projects and otherwise frustrating their best intentions.

A well placed, "No, I can't perform effectively on those terms" or like utterance can enhance your credibility and help lead to a more satisfying experience for all concerned.


Technology Negotiations Can Be Difficult

"Whether you're bargaining over the purchase of a new companywide network, coping with a possible infringement of patented technology, or seeking better customer service from a software supplier, technology negotiations have become a fact of managerial life.

How do such negotiations differ from those that are less technologically complex? You can anticipate four specific problems to crop up more often in the technology arena:

1. Complexity. Negotiations over new technology require sophisticated knowledge of hardware or software that's beyond the scope of most managers. If those trained in science and technology assume that others at the table speak their language, serious misunderstandings can result.

2. Uncertainty. When highly complex systems are at stake, no one can be sure whether they will perform as promised when configured for a particular business environment. Different estimates of how a technology will perform can lead to negotiation battles.

3. Egos. Those who design or advocate for a new technology often become additional players when they have a vested interest in the outcome of a negotiation. Technology advocates—and their egos—can complicate otherwise straightforward talks.

4. Organizational change. The various organizational changes required by negotiated agreements can provoke conflict between parties during implementation. Staffers may have trouble maintaining or repairing new technology, accessing its intellectual underpinnings, or acquiring replacement parts..."

Read more in this article from HBS Working Knowledge from which the foregoing was excerpted.


ZOPAs & BATNAs & WAPs Oh My!

"A "Zone of Possible Agreement" (ZOPA) exists if there is a potential agreement that would benefit both sides more than their alternative options do...

In order for disputing parties to identify the ZOPA, they must first know their alternatives, and thus their "bottom line" or "walk away position."...

Roger Fisher and William Ury introduced the concept of "BATNA" (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). This is the best course of action that a party can pursue if no agreement is reached...

BATNAs determine each side's bottom lines... So, a zone of possible agreement exists if there is an overlap between these walk away positions. If there is not, negotiation is very unlikely to succeed...

If both sides know their BATNAs and walk away positions, the parties should be able to communicate, assess proposed agreements, and eventually identify the ZOPA. However, parties often do not know their own BATNAs, and are even less likely to know the other side's BATNA. Often parties may pretend they have a better alternative than they really do, as good alternatives usually translate into more power in the negotiations..."

Read more in this essay from beyondintractability.org .


Summary of "Getting to Yes"

In their classic text, Getting to Yes:

"Fisher and Ury explain that a good agreement is one which is wise and efficient, and which improves the parties' relationship. Wise agreements satisfy the parties' interests and are fair and lasting. The authors' goal is to develop a method for reaching good agreements. Negotiations often take the form of positional bargaining. In positional bargaining each part opens with their position on an issue. The parties then bargain from their separate opening positions to agree on one position. Haggling over a price is a typical example of positional bargaining.

Fisher and Ury argue that positional bargaining does not tend to produce good agreements. It is an inefficient means of reaching agreements, and the agreements tend to neglect the parties' interests. It encourages stubbornness and so tends to harm the parties' relationship. Principled negotiation provides a better way of reaching good agreements. Fisher and Ury develop four principles of negotiation. Their process of principled negotiation can be used effectively on almost any type of dispute. Their four principles are 1) separate the people from the problem; 2) focus on interests rather than positions; 3) generate a variety of options before settling on an agreement; and 4) insist that the agreement be based on objective criteria. [p. 11]

These principles should be observed at each stage of the negotiation process. The process begins with the analysis of the situation or problem, of the other parties' interests and perceptions, and of the existing options. The next stage is to plan ways of responding to the situation and the other parties. Finally, the parties discuss the problem trying to find a solution on which they can agree..."

Read more, including more detailed explanations of each the enumerated principles, in this excellent book summary from beyondintractability.org .

The First Offer Anchoring Advantage

Common wisdom for negotiations says it’s better to wait for your opponent to make the first offer. This article from HBS Working Knowledge, that is well worth reading in its entirety, suggests that in fact, you may win by making the first offer yourself, stating:

"Because of the inherent ambiguity of most negotiations, some experts suggest that you should wait for the other side to speak first. By receiving the opening offer, the argument goes, you'll gain valuable information about your opponent's bargaining position and clues about acceptable agreements. This advice makes intuitive sense, but it fails to account for the powerful effect that first offers have on the way people think about the negotiation process...

In situations of great ambiguity and uncertainty, first offers have a strong anchoring effect—they exert a strong pull throughout the rest of the negotiation... But why?

The answer lies in the fact that every item under negotiation (whether it's a company or a car) has both positive and negative qualities—qualities that suggest a higher price and qualities that suggest a lower price.

High anchors selectively direct our attention toward an item's positive attributes; low anchors direct our attention to its flaws. Hence, a high list price directed real estate agents' attention to the house's positive features (such as spacious rooms or a new roof) while pushing negative features (such as a small yard or an old furnace) to the back recesses of their minds. Similarly, a low anchor led mechanics to focus on a car's worn belts and ailing clutch rather than its low mileage and pristine interior..."


Reframing Provides Opportunity for Agreement

"Psychologists and therapists have long used a technique called reframing to assist patients with changing problem attitudes and behaviors. The idea behind reframing is 'to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the "facts" of the same concrete situation equally well, or even better, and thereby changes its entire meaning.'

Further, it has been stated that "‘our experience of the world is based on categorization of the objects of our perception into classes,’ and that ‘once an object is conceptualized as the member of a given class, it is extremely difficult to see it also as belonging to another class.’

With reframing, once we see ‘alternative class memberships,’ it is difficult to go back to our previously limited view of ‘reality.’” Reframing allows an idea or object to be thought of as fitting into a different category...

The role of the mediator is much like the role of the psychotherapist. Neither really possesses much power beyond that of persuading the people involved to accept the mediator’s/therapist’s frame of the problem. At the heart of this power for the mediator is not rational or logical argument. There exist rational arguments for each viewpoint.

But, the mediator can wield much influence if he or she does so indirectly in order to avoid hostile confrontation. A key element here is the ability to reframe...taking the framework that each participant in a conflict holds from one of negativity to one that focuses on the positive opportunities for resolution."

Read more in this mediate.com article from which the foregoing was excerpted.


Negotiating TIPs for Fun and Profit

"The first thing you must learn are the three variables of negotiation: time, information, and power. You can remember these easily with the acronym "TIP," so the next time you have to negotiate an agreement, you'll remember the "TIP" to think in terms of time, information, and power...The rule of time is that whoever has the loosest time constraints has an advantage in any negotiating situation...The rule of information is that whichever party has the best information has an advantage...The rule of power is that whichever party has the greatest perceived power has an advantage...The hungry person isn't going to get a good deal when negotiating for food, nor will the person who doesn't know what food is supposed to cost, nor will the person who has only one source for food.

Go for win-win or no deal...
Decide what you want in advance...
Commit everything to paper...If you don't get it down on paper, it's as if it didn't exist.
Never negotiate against yourself...
Everything is negotiable...Well, almost everything...
Realize and accept that not every deal is worth having..."

Read more in this article from Steve Pavlina from which the foregoing was excerpted.


Why Should I Settle?

As Perry Itkin points out, reasons exist to settle even a substantively "good case," commenting a recent lawsuit settlement with Wen Ho Lee, the American nuclear scientist once identified in news reports as the target of a government spying investigation.


Welcome to The Third Side

"No more critical challenge faces each of us, and all of us together, than how to live together in a world of differences. So much depends on our ability to handle our conflicts peacefully - our happiness at home, our performance at work, the livability of our communities, and, in this age of mass destruction, the survival of our species.

The Third Side offers a promising new way to look at the conflicts around us. The Third Side is the community - us - in action protecting our most precious interests in safety and well-being. It suggests ten practical roles any of us can play on a daily basis to stop destructive fighting in our families, at work, in our schools, and in the world.

Each of our individual actions is like a single spider web, fragile perhaps but, when united with others, capable of halting the lion of war. Although the Third Side is in its infancy in our modern-day societies, it has been used effectively by simpler cultures for millennia to reduce violence and promote dialogue."

Find out what it means to take the Third Side and who are the thirdsiders in any conflict by following this link to The Third Side a beautiful website from Global Negotiation Project at Harvard University.


Articles on Negotiating from Kauffman eVenturing

This collection of articles from Kauffman eVenturing "provides lessons learned in how to negotiate effectively to grow your company and practical philosophies on succeeding in the art of negotiations."

The collection includes an article by William Ury, distinguished global expert on negotiations and cofounder of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, in which he observes that people negotiate something daily in every part of their lives -- whether in the family, with friends, at work, or, as Kaufmann eVenturing stresses, especially in leading a growth company.

The Hidden Cost of Unhealthy Workplace Conflict

"Whenever people work together, conflict is an inevitable result...

In healthy conflict the issues are on the table being discussed with objective language. Each party is empowered to state his or her position with confidence that the other party is genuinely listening, wanting to understand. Possible solutions are explored with open minds, and ripple effects are considered and weighed for each solution offered.

It's an easy process to understand, but more often than not it's incredibly difficult to do...As a result, unhealthy conflict is common...People can get visibly angry and feelings get hurt. Words can become weapons that leave nasty scars.

In its most subtle form, unhealthy conflict disintegrates into tension...[that]results in chronically unresolved problems...

Daniel Dana, Director of Program Development for Mediation Training Institute International, identifies eight "hidden" costs of conflict that...every employer should be aware of...

1. Wasted time...
2. Reduced quality of decisions...
3. Loss of skilled employees...
4. Restructuring inefficiencies...
5. Sabotage/theft/damage...
6. Lower levels of motivation...
7. Absenteeism...
8. Health costs..."

Read more in this excellent article by Don Bobinski from which the foregoing excerpts were taken.


Metaphorically Speaking

I watched recently an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation in which an alien people spoke only using metaphors drawn from the stories and mythologies of their culture. Communication between the humanoids on the Enterprise with the aliens was impossible at first because the Enterprise crew did not know the stories. By the end of the show, Picard and crew had figured out enough to communicate important shared ideas that saved the Enterprise from destruction. The idea of using metaphors to communicate in conflict situations is the subject of this mediate.com article that explains:

"In conveying ideas we resort to metaphors which are very useful linguistic tools. In mediation, language is almost all we have to work with. Thus, an understanding of the metaphors we use in every day life is helpful in increasing the positive use of them in ways that enhance the mediation process. It is not a question of whether we use metaphors. The question is, which ones we use...

We each have an organizing metaphor we use for conflict. War is the most common metaphor for argument or conflict and people who use it as their organizing metaphor draw from the human experience of war. If we think that argument is war, we will use metaphors drawn from the human experience of war.

Lawyers engage in the adversarial process and most commonly use the conflict is war metaphor. They come to the session armed with the facts: the holster is transformed into a briefcase. They are ready to shoot down your argument. Is this why participants in a legal argument are often casualties? There are many injuries and, as with most wars, a victor and a loser, or two losers.

An alternative metaphor is that conflict is a journey. We have a destination (goals). We take the first steps towards an agreement. In looking at a problem we say "Well let's see where we go from here." Of course, not all journeys are smooth. We can run into heavy seas or hit a bump in the road...

There are a number of other useful categories:

conflict is a game: "would you like me to mediate your dispute or referee your fight?"
conflict is a chemical: If we can't find an immediate solution perhaps the problem will simply dissolve away."
conflict is a building: "You're not on firm ground." "Let's see if we can structure an agreement."
conflict is a gamble: "I'll take my chances in court. The odds are in my favor."

The choice of metaphor has an influence on the behavior of the participants because it sets tone to the negotiations...Mediation participants who invoke the war metaphor often also believe that all is fair in love and war. There will be a winner and a loser and the war tactics used to achieve victory are acceptable.

On the other hand, participants who invoke the argument-is-a-journey metaphor will take the first steps together; they will share the goal of the journey. When they get lost they will help each other find the way back to the common goal. They will, in fact, have to cooperate to complete the journey...

When people use a metaphor that is not consonant with their general view of the world, the metaphor can convey a belief that the individual does not hold. It also signals to the listener to expect a behavior that matches the metaphor...Thus, one task for the mediator is to help the clients use the metaphors that most closely express their view of the conflict and/or develop an organizing metaphor that is more conducive to cooperation and productive negotiations. When doing this I believe that indirect messages, such as careful use of alternative metaphors are usually more successful in creating change than direct or confronting messages. I operate under the assumption that my influence is best exercised through metaphors which influence the participant's metaphors..."