Guest post by Mary Powell, Marketing and Sales Executive
This is the final article in my series on negotiating skills. The series began with a discussion of leverage, the ability to cope with an unlevel playing field. Next we spoke about information and your ability to ferret out, and protect vital facts. After that, we discussed credibility which involves your ability to be believable and to spot a bluff from the other side.
This time, we will talk about the most elusive skill in negotiating: judgment.
As a negotiator, you are called on to make many difficult decisions:
- Can I press this particular issue?
- What trade offs can be made?
- Should I be the one to open the bidding?
- Should I give in so that we can move on?
…And so on. All of these decisions involve a judgment call.
Good judgment comes from experience, but it also involves a knack for analyzing a situation, the courage to make concessions, and the patience to stick to a point that is particularly important to you.
Good judgment requires that you keep things in balance. An effective negotiator will balance what they do to gain an advantage with what they do to move toward an agreement.
If you put all your effort into gaining as much advantage as you can, you will seriously damage the relationship, and maybe even lose the deal. On the other hand, if you relent too easily you will not likely get what is within your reach.
Recognize that there is a time to hold fast, and a time to yield gracefully.
Patience plays a big part, as well. But patience too, must be kept in balance. What starts as patience can turn into perseverance and when it takes on a more active role, we have persistence. At some point, this tenacity can become relentless and it can translate into obstinacy. You don’t want to go there. Patience with a bit of persistence works best. You must judge where to draw the line.
Your judgment must also involve perspective. You’re not going to win on all points. Allow your counterpart to take home some trophies too, especially ones that are not that important to you.
Plan ahead to argue only so far on these issues, then relent, allowing the other side to save face. Remember, egos are at work here. Use your judgment to choose the issues, and also to know how long to argue and when to give in.
Putting all four of these articles together you will see that all four aspects of negotiating skills work closely together.
The more information you have the more leverage you gain. Sound judgment will increase your credibility. Credibility will add to your leverage, and information on exactly what leverage you have will give you better judgment.
It all works together. It is not easy, however. It takes practice. While this was a brief overview of a complicated skill, I hope it was helpful.