Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Classical Negotiation

Posted on | February 3, 2011 | No Comments

The following excerpt is one of my favourite moments in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. It illustrates by itself many of the key elements of a successful negotiation, and highlights many of the pitfalls of classical negotiation.

First, here are a few good habits to remember:
1) Be prepared. Know what kind of person you will be dealing with. Spot the strengths and weaknesses of your negotiating team, and those of other teams. This requires a good foreknowledge of the field in which you will be working, and a quick appraisal of human nature (or in this case, extraterrestrial nature!). Mostly it requires experience of the kind of situation in which you will need to use your negotiating skills. Know how you will react in such circumstances.
2) Have the right tools. You generally won’t be negotiating with firearms. But you need the proper tools – different scenarios according to various hypotheses, an array of contracts and clauses, at the very least a team of expert on which you can rely to quickly obtain any missing element.
3) Teamwork. Do not hesitate to use the potential of other team members to gain a thorough knowledge of the situation you’re in.
4) Talk to the right people. Put the proper individuals in charge of the negotiation, and others as a support team. Define roles and responsibilities, and back-ups. Know who to talk to. Identify the other team’s leader (or leaders if there are more than two parties involved).
Then, here are a few traps of classical negotiation:
1) Have a back-up plan. If you wind up in an “all or nothing” situation, you have a 50% chance of losing everything. In the example above, losing quite literally everything. Ou need to carefully map out all possible options before you begin the negotiation.
2) This is not a one man show. If your team serves no purpose, why bring it? If losing a member of your team effectively ends the negotiation, you have lost before it has even begun.
3) Kiss your business relationship goodbye. In many case, maintaining a working relationship will not be necessary once the negotiation is over. But often, you will need to keep interacting with the other party. Make sure you do not cause them harm if you want to save your future business opportunities.
I wish you will never o through such an episode, but I hope that these few pointers may be useful when the need arise.


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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

    Tous droits réservés, Patrick Meunier, 2010

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