A to Z of Negotiation: R is for Reflection


In a busy world where everyone is bombarded by emails, calls, meetings and various other demands on their time, finding the time for reflection can be a challenge. However, reflection is the key to improving your negotiation skills. It is only by taking time after each negotiation to look at how it went that you can build the skills that help you get better.


Taking into account the challenges of finding time, I offer two separate models for reflecting on your negotiations which will assist in your development. The choice you make will depend on how much time you have.


A quick reflection

After every negotiation, I recommend asking these two basic questions:

  • What worked well and what didn’t work well? What were the things you (or the other side) did that helped to achieve an outcome, increase overall value or claim value? On the flip side, what things happened that caused problems in the negotiation or gave away value unnecessarily?

  • Why did those things work or not work? This is critical. Some techniques will work in some situation but not in others. Recognising what it is about the situation that makes a technique work or fail allows you to make choices in future negotiations about the appropriateness of a particular technique. Using the old tool box analogy, I may be an expert in using screwdrivers but using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail probably won’t work!


A longer reflection

If you have more time available, then a more structured reflection may be helpful. I follow a reflection model based around the Harvard 7 Elements model.

Relationship

  • Was the relationship improved or damaged by the negotiation? Why?

  • Did you clarify any assumptions you had about their intentions?

Communication

  • How well did you do at listening without interrupting or thinking of responses before the other person finished speaking?

  • Did you check in to ensure your understanding of key points was correct and that they understood your key points?

Interests

  • Were you able to communicate clearly your underlying interests in a way which helped them to meet your needs (without giving away your weaknesses)?

  • Were you able to glean from them their underlying interests.

Options

  • Did you explore a range of options before committing to try to maximise value?

  • Once you reached an agreement, did you keep working to see if that base agreement could be improved upon?

Standards

  • Did you come prepared with data and evidence to support your negotiations?

  • Did you ask them for justifications for offers they were proposing?

Alternatives

  • Did you consider your best case alternative if an agreement was not able to be reached?

  • Did you agree to something that was at least as good as that alternative?

  • Did you consider what their best case alternative was in the event of no agreement being reached?

An important consideration in your reflection is being totally honest with yourself. This is not the time to justify every move you made in the negotiation but to honestly reflect and critique. I always encourage sharing these reflections as well. If team members share their learning, then everyone in the team can benefit from the learning and the group will all build their skills.


If you would like to learn more about getting the best out of your negotiations, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion.

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