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Learn to empathise

Appreciating the needs of the other party helps better negotiation processes, opines Mohan Joshi.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 13:02 IST

When we refer to the “other party” in a negotiation, we often think on a purely corporate level. However, negotiators are peo ple and it is equally important to be able to appreciate your opposite number’s situation on a personal level and show them that you empathise. Bear in mind that the person with whom you are negotiating will have to ‘sell’ any agreement that he or she reaches with you to his or her boss.

Take the trouble to find out what difficulties they are likely to face in their company. Receptive gestures or facial expressions may prove helpful. This open exchange of information and experiences will help you in two areas – you will build up a rapport that will make you and the other parties feel like partners in the negotiation rather than opponents. Adopting such cooperative approach will help you if you later hit a difficult phase in the negotiation. You will gain an insight into the working of the company you need to deal with. This in turn enables you to plan your approach in a manner that will convince both the concerned person as well as his or her superiors.

Preparing a joint agenda

Participants for each meeting must be carefully selected. Some of them should work jointly in fixing agenda. This will help to define the required preparation and advance preparation of points to be discussed during the meeting. Once you know the sequence of points to be discussed, you will understand priority areas and prepare accordingly. Meeting between leaders of important nations is one good example of joint agenda preparation. The concerned people take months to make the agenda taking into consider ation several minor issues. Once the agenda has been thus fixed with joint consent, it will reduce scope for surprises and will also create positive climate for amicable negotiation.

Internal negotiations

Negotiations within your company are often far important than those with outsiders. To be successful in sales, you must first check with your colleagues in terms of price, specifications, delivery terms etc so that you exactly know what promises you can make. Many managers take for granted support and obligations that are required from colleagues. However, professional managers respond positively when they have been kept informed in advance so that their ego is satisfied. Getting your colleagues to feel ownership of the agreement is critical for its fulfilment. Most companies for internal meetings do overload of data prior to their meetings. Instead of impersonal e-mails, spend time in deciding about the process of discussion and common goals to be achieved. What is important is to clearly know what is ¦ the end result expected?

(Mohan Joshi, Director, Schott Glass Pvt Ltd)

First Published: May 02, 2006 12:56 IST