Know the Relationship You Want to Build
If it is a long-term partnership you seek, then you must establish a relationship based in trust, mutual respect, and credibility. There are three strategies you can use in the Preparation Stage that will strengthen the relationship:
- Build trust
- Find affiliations
- Develop probes that strengthen the relationship and help you learn the other side's interests
In the Preparation Stage you plan for the use of these strategies, and then you use them in the Exchange and Bargaining stages.
1. Simple ways to build trust
In everything you do from the beginning of negotiations, you should demonstrate trust and assess trust in the other side. Once the basis for trust exists, you can begin the real win-win or collaborative negotiations. Plan use of these trust-building activities:
- Responsiveness (i.e., return phone calls timely)
- Sincere curiosity in the other side's positions and interests
- Respect for people and their time
- Keep promises; don't over commit
- Show empathy
- Manage your emotions
- Trust first – give closely held information to demonstrate you trust them
- Appreciate their position even when you don't agree
- Listen as an ally
2. Find affiliations
Search for information in the Preparation Stage that will help you in the Exchange Stage to build affiliations, or connections with your counterpart. The more you know about your counterpart the more connections you will find. For example, you learn in Preparation that your counterpart is a Rotary Club member, and so is someone on your team.
3. Plan Probes with sincerity
You will use Probes – questions that seek to understand underlying interests – in the Exchange and Bargaining stages. In Preparation you will plan ahead by developing Probes that are aimed at getting the information you need. Probes can also evoke positive responses and quiet negative or confrontational responses if they are done with sincerity. Thus planning your Probes with a sincere approach can help strengthen the relationship for the long term.
Try these strategies when developing your Probes:
- Prepare questions that are framed to show you hear their concern and want to know more about it, rather than interrogating them about why they are resisting.
- Prepare open-ended questions that allow them to explain.
- The questions you develop should show appreciation for the other side's position without agreeing with it.
- Preparation is not a one-time process. Throughout the Exchange and Bargaining Stages, you will often return to Preparation activities to enhance your negotiation.