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8 tips to negotiating in a recession (Pt 3)

Mark Simpson
Neg In Recession

Any negotiation, whether it is in challenging economic times (read: recession) or when your business is on a ‘high’, should be well planned and well prepared for. We have shared tips on this in our 2 previous blogs.

The next challenging stage of any negotiation happens when you engage with the other party. There are a few things you should be thinking about before you enter the negotiation, like whether a team approach or individual talks would best suit your interests and a plan to ensure you get your message across.

Tip #5 of 8: Use a team approach

In golf there are many skills: putting, driving, club selection, chipping and so on. Unfortunately, we have to be good at all of these to return a good score.  In negotiation we define 3 tasks, Leader, Summariser and Observer, each with its own discrete skill set.  We help people practice and improve these skills so that, when they are negotiating on their own, they are able to use them all.

In a more formal negotiation setting we recommend that there are at least three people present and that the leader is not necessarily the most senior person.

Some time ago Scotwork were retained by a senior team from the largest US bank who were on their way to Moscow to buy some gold from the USSR for the US Government; 20 tons of it! They were seeking tactical advice on dealing with the Russians.  One of the tactics we successfully recommended was that the SVP allow the others to lead by not even attending the first few meetings. The intent being to show it was not that important to our client to warrant the SVP's time.


Tip #6 of 8: Get your message across

We are all particularly good at talking; we are usually poor at listening, particularly where we don’t agree with the other person’s opinion.  We use the same argument repeatedly; ‘it didn’t succeed the last 3 times, so let’s give it another go’.

One technique we teach is to summarise the other party’s point of view back to them in a neutral manner.  This demonstrates that you have heard and understood their argument, so there is no benefit in them repeating it, it also makes them more receptive to listen to yours.

Another way is to use an intermediary to carry the message. We were retained by a global mobile company to help them break an impasse with their largest reseller.  They had got to the point where they were no longer talking to each other.  Our role was that of a go-between; communicating neutrally, probing for common ground and encouraging the parties to build on that.

Thinking about who to include in your negotiating team and then ensuring that your messages are delivered clearly and concisely will move negotiations forward as you trade proposals.

If you want to ensure you and your people have the skills needed to ensure your organisation thrives in the current environment then contact Scotwork. P: 04 2979069, E:

(Adapted from an article by John McMillan)

Next week we will share 2 more tips for negotiating in uncertain times.

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