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CMN6060_Negotiation, Mediation and Facilitation 6

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CMN6060_Negotiation, Mediation and Facilitation 6 Question your assumptions; listen actively. Whatever assumption you make about others – whether you assume they are just like you or totally different — question it. Be open to learning that they are quite unlike what you expected. The wide variations among cultures provide clues as to the kind of differences for which you should be looking, but remember that all of us have special interests and qualities that do not fit any standard mold. Practical Questions QUESTION 7: “What about practical questions like, ‘Where should we meet?’ ‘Who should make the first offer?’ and ‘How high should I start?”‘ Before a doctor can answer such questions as what pill to take what food to avoid, he or she will want to learn about the patient’s symptoms and diagnose possible causes. Only then can the doctor develop a general strategy for better health. The same is true for specialists in negotiation. We have no all-purpose patent medicines. Good tactical advice requires knowledge of specific circumstances. This can be illustrated by considering three specific examples: Where should we meet? What are we worried about? If both parties tend to be extremely busy and subject to constant interruptions, seclusion may be the most important consideration. If the other person tends to feel insecure or in need of staff support, perhaps he would be more comfortable meeting in his office. You may also want to meet in the other party’s office if you would like to feel free to walk away. Are there charts, files, or technical experts that you might want to be able to consult during the negotiation? If you want to be free to use flip charts, a white board, or an overhead projector, you may want to meet in a conference room that has such facilities. Who should make the first offer? It would be a mistake to assume that making an offer is always the best way to put a figure on the table. Usually you will want to explore interests, options, and criteria for a while before making an offer. Making an offer too soon can make the other side feel railroaded. Once both sides have a sense of the problem, an offer that makes an effort to reconcile the interests and standards that have been advanced is more likely to be received as a constructive step forward. Whether or not you make an offer, you may want to try to “anchor” the discussion early around an approach or standard favorable to you. On the other hand, if you are ill-prepared and have no idea what would be reasonable, you will probably be reluctant to put an idea or an offer on the table, perhaps hoping that the other side will go first and offer something generous. But you should be careful. It is extremely risky to measure the value of an item by the other side’s first proposal or figure. If you know that little about an item’s value, you should probably engage in more research before starting the negotiation. The better prepared both parties are in a negotiation over price, the less difference it makes who makes the first offer. Rather than learning rules about who should make the first offer, it would be better to learn the rule of being well prepared with external measures of value. How high should I start? Many people tend to measure success by how far the other party has moved. Even if the first figure is a wholly arbitrary assertion of “sticker price” or “retail value,” buyers will often feel happy about getting something for less. They have not checked the market. They do not know what their best alternative would cost, so they derive satisfaction by paying less than the first “asking price.” In these circumstances, if you are selling, you would ordinarily start with the highest figure that you could justify without embarrassment. Another way to think of it is to start with the highest figure that you would try to persuade a neutral third party was fair. In putting forth such a figure you would first explain the reasoning and then give the number


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