Negotiation in Business — A Background Primer

by | Aug 5, 2008 | Building Relationships, Entrepreneurship

Before I really start talking about negotiation and how you can use this skill to best effect in your business, I thought I would spend a little time going over what negotiation is — and what it isn’t.

According to Wikipedia, “Negotiation is a dialogue intended to resolve disputes, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, or to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests.”

O.K. That’s a lot of big words, but what does it mean to YOU, the small business owner? Let me break it down.

One of the keywords in the definition above is “dialogue.” This reflects the give and take of negotiations. In an ideal world, both parties in the negotiation win — they both walk away with something they wanted.

Many believe that strong negotiation tactics require manipulation, and, to a point, they do. However, I believe that strong negotiation tactics that have long-term staying power, use manipulation in the good sense of the term. This is called “Win-Win Negotiation” and, I believe, it is the best form of negotiation for small business owners.

“Effective negotiation helps you to resolve situations where what you want conflicts with what someone else wants,” according to MindTools.com. “The aim of win-win negotiation is to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties and leaves both parties feeling that they’ve won, in some way, after the event.”

They even advise considering a win-lose negotiation only, “if you don’t need to have an ongoing relationship with the other party as having lost, they are unlikely to want to work with you again. Equally, you should expect that if they need to fulfill some part of a deal in which you have ‘won,’ they may be uncooperative and legalistic about the way they do this.”

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