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Negotiating Skills – The Penalty Shoot Out

We often hear on the news these days that, in some pay deal or political situation, negotiations have broken down, or that the opposing sides are locked in negotiations. I doubt that many of us give a thought to what goes on in these discussions, but behind those closed doors there could be many different negotiating techniques at work as skilled negotiators apply what they believe to be the strategy that will achieve the biggest gains for their side.

Negotiating is not simply a matter of haggling and beating down your opponent – there are many different ways to approach the negotiating table, depending on the individual circumstances. To demonstrate this and to tie in with the World Cup, here is the Negotiating Skills penalty shoot-out.

1: The one-off situation
If you are dealing with someone on a one-off situation then you can afford to be a little more robust with your negotiation techniques. When negotiating over such a transaction, selling a car for example, you can bare your teeth somewhat because you do not have a relationship to preserve and you need not concern yourself with the feelings of your opposite number. So in these situations it is it is quite acceptable to seek to achieve the best deal for yourself by going in hard.
Penalty No 1 – GOAL – the keeper was left flat-footed.

2: The new client situation
The second penalty taker was impressed with the first one and so he decides to adopt an identical strategy. But we are dealing with a new client with whom a future relationship is desired this time and so coming on heavy is not the best way to lay the foundations of a solid working relationship. The new client finds aggressive negotiating techniques off-putting and he does not relish the prospect of dealing with such a hard-nosed negotiator so he takes his custom elsewhere.
Penalty No 2 – SAVED – missed the opportunity and missed the penalty.

3: The be on guard situation
You come to the table with a set idea of what you can afford to give away, but the objective is to hold on to as much as you can. Your opposite number is an astute negotiator, however, and he presses you into giving up all you have to offer without allowing you the chance to play your own hand. You weren’t prepared for such an onslaught and while you do get what you set out to achieve, it comes at a heavier price than you needed to pay. The lesson learned here is that your opposite number knows what he wants as well and he may negotiate hard in order to attain his goal, so a spirited defence is called for.
Penalty No 3 – SAVED Tipped onto the post and out.

4: The win-win situation
When negotiating over anything, from swapping football stickers in the school yard, to grinding out a new pay deal in the offices of a multinational corporation, everyone wants to come away with what is best for them. But where there is a winner there is also a loser and being beaten hands-down can leave a sour taste. You can nurture a healthier relationship if you can allow some concession that sees the opposing party leave the negotiations feeling that he too has gained something from them.
Penalty No 4 – GOAL Back of the net.

5 The stalemate situation
Negotiations have reached an impasse. Stalemate. Deadlock. You are not prepared to budge another inch and your metric opponent refuses to give a centimetre. This sort of heavy negotiation is often seen in pay deals between unions and bosses and such situations can become quite acrimonious. Instead of digging your heels in, however, it may be more productive to look for an alternative solution. You are demanding X and your opposite number is holding out for Y but, as neither of these are negotiable, it may be more productive to explore Z. Co-operation and collaboration in looking at an alternative strategy may not resolve the stalemate, but they do open up new avenues down which a form of resolution may be found.
Penalty No 5 – GOAL Sent the keeper the wrong way.

A clear demonstration then that there are many different ways to approach the negotiating table and care must be taken to adopt the correct strategy for each unique situation. Skilled negotiators are always in demand in today’s workplace, seeking what is best for the party they are representing. If you see yourself as a good negotiator then I suggest you look further into what is an interesting and often rewarding skill to possess.

Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on negotiating skills training, please visit