The Art Of Contract Negotiation Technique

How to contract negotiation technique: get your point across while respecting the boundries of others.

In the art of negotiation, whether it is business or personal requires planning and execution. Unlike toddlers, who negotiate by crying and rolling around on the floor, adults need to employ a different skill set to get their point across. The following are some tips for successful negotiation.

Before the meeting be well rested and well fed- also visit the restroom before "entering the arena" as you don't want a nature call to have you leave the room or adjourn the meeting early.

Wear comfortable, yet appropriate clothing- the commercial expression "don't let them see you sweat" is never more applicable. A tight collar and or tie or a skirt that is being hitched or hiked that will cause you to fidget will detract from your image.

Focus on issues, not personalities- if you have to deal with persons you don't like (or those you do like) it is tempting to let your thoughts about that person influence your behavior. Focusing on your goal and treating everyone as an equal will help matters become resolved in your favor. By treating all fairly you will avoid simmering about grudges or worrying about feelings, which can be an obstacle in your success.

Speak in supportive statements- Attach credibility to your statements by speaking in facts not feelings. Avoid sentences beginning with "I think" "I feel" or "In my opinion". When stating facts, be prepared to quote your sources and elaborate or deflect questions meant to deflate your position. Being armed with facts stands up better than trying to justify feelings.

Listen (with more than your ears)- Listen for audible content but also watch the body language. Are your opponents sitting with an "open" body posture or are their arms tightly folded across their chest? Are they scratching their nose often in disbelief? Are they looking down or are they engaging you with their eyes in a game of "blink" to establish who is boss?

Find points of agreement to build on- pick up points that you agree upon and incorporate them into your presentation. An example would be "I agree with you on the importance of XYZ, and this is how the implementation of PDQ can benefit XYZ".

Choose your battles wisely and place some "decoy" items on the table- a trick popular with attorneys is to ask for much more than you want so that you can "sacrifice" superfluous or unreasonable items to gain ground for the important issues. Compromise with care on items important to you. Weigh carefully whether holding out will be in your best interest. Sometimes a speedy resolution isn't the best.

Take minutes- Have someone tape or take minutes so that all that has been said is recorded. Reiterate that your responsibility will be and that you will execute your part right away. If in a business meeting you can end by saying "I will have this in a memo to distribute this afternoon" or "I will make the necessary phone calls to get this rolling right away". If contracts are involved, have them ready on the spot or as soon as possible to get a signature to what has been agreed. Although most contracts have a "cooling off" period of three days or so, getting a written commitment to your settlement brings you that much closer to your goal.

End on a positive note - Shake hands and smile. A smile shows friendliness and confidence and that you are a great person to do business with, even if everyone in the room wasn't altogether pleased with the outcome. Conversely, if you did not get all you wanted, don't appear a bad sport. Focus on your "wins" and play down the losses. Take honest notes to yourself on your tactics and see how you can improve for next time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011