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Raise the costs of not negotiating. Sometimes the other party hesitates to make a decision. When people have even a hint that the negotiation might produce bad results for them, ducking the issue seems to be the easiest course. They need a push. You accomplish this by making the status quo less attractive. By exerting pressure, you raise the cost of business-as-usual until the other side begins to see that things will get worse unless you both get down to talking. If a client drags his feet on an agreement, for example, you can point out that your calendar next month is crowded or impending price changes will result in higher costs if a decision is delayed.
Enlist support. Allies are an important resource in the shadow negotiation. They can lend tangible support to incentives you've already offered. At a minimum, if their voice is important to the other party, it gets his or her attention and primes the pump.
While process moves do not address the issues in a negotiation-the terms of the sale or the scope of work, for example-they do directly affect the hearing those issues receive. The agenda, the pre-negotiation groundwork, and the sequence in which ideas and people are heard-all these structural elements influence the other party's receptivity. There are two main ways you can influence the negotiation process:
take control of the agenda
seed ideas early
Take control of the agenda. When the outcome of a negotiation is important to you, take control of the agenda. Don't wait for the other party to respond. Set the ball rolling. This effort can be no more than arranging a time and place for a meeting that is comfortable for you or insuring that you have enough time to cover what's on your agenda. Alert the other person to exactly what you want to talk about and ask whether there are other things that need to be on the agenda.
Seed ideas early. Nobody likes surprises in a negotiation. If you are planning to raise your fee schedule or have a problem with delivering on schedule, let the other side know ahead of time. Seeding ideas also means having solutions to problems or defensible reasons for fee changes ready.
Power moves exert influence on the other party so that talks get off the ground. Process moves change the ground rules under which the negotiations play out. But still talks may stall. Two strong advocates may have backed themselves into respective corners. Or one side, put on the defensive, even inadvertently, may continue to resist of raise obstacles. Communication may deteriorate, turn acrimonious, or simply stop as the participants focus solely on their own demands. Wariness stifles any candid exchange. And without candor, the two sides cannot address the issues together or uncover the real conflict. Appreciative moves break these cycles.
Not only do appreciative moves shift the dynamics of the shadow negotiation away from the adversarial, but they also hold out a hidden promise. When bargainers demonstrate appreciation for another's concerns, situation, or "face," they foster open communication so that differences in needs and views can come to the surface without personal discord.
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