All managers will eventually face the need to negotiate. Large, multi-party projects means facing opportunities to effectively work through challenges involving resources, team members or time constraints. Negotiations are a common occurrence in business, but often they are also sources of frustration and anxiety for those involved.
A too-frequent truth about negotiations is that there is often a "winner" and "loser". Leaders should be aware of what concrete options are available during a negotiation to build principled decisions. Ideally, these principled decisions result in a "win" for everyone – even if some "win more than others."
Properly preparing for a negotiation is crucial for success. Ananda Laberge, an expert in management and negotiation in the healthcare field, told Forbes that negotiations can go south for a number of reasons, including egos or misunderstandings, but most often they falter because one party had not yet comprehensively reviewed their position.
Before walking into any negotiation, know what you hope to achieve from the talks, and consider what the other parties might require from your team. Talk to any superiors involved and see what concessions your company is prepared to make in order to reach an agreement. Having to check each proposal with higher management delays the progress and can frustrate both parties.
A firm understanding of communication styles and bargaining tactics is an essential attribute of a good negotiator. Being able to separate the "problem" from the "people" is invaluable in defusing tensions and creating a sense of joint priorities. If the party across the table has a serious grievance, address at it at the beginning of the proceedings in order begin moving forward.
When finding themselves in conflict with a project sponsor or client, many companies elect to have a consultant involved in order to gain outside perspective. Consultants offer a unique opportunity to work outside organizational politics and are trained to find mutually beneficial solutions that strengthen business relationships.