The Negotiating Table
You can negotiate virtually anything. Projects, resources, expectations and deadlines are all outcomes of negotiation. Some people negotiate deals for a living. Dr Herb Cohen is one of these professional talkers, called in by companies to negotiate on their behalf . He approaches the art of negotiation as a game because, as he is usually negotiating for somebody else, he says this helps him drain the emotional content from his conversation. He is working in a competitive field and needs to avoid being too adversarial. Whether he succeeds or not, it is important to him to make a good impression so that people will recommend him.
The starting point for any deal, he believes, is to identify exactly what you want from each other. More often than not, one party will be trying to persuade the other round to their point of view. Negotiation requires two people at the end saying ‘yes”. This can be a problem because one of them usually begins by saying “no”. However, although this can make talks more difficult, this is often just a starting point in the negotiation game. Top management may well reject the idea initially because it is the safer option but they would not be there if they were not interested.
It is a misconception that skilled negotiators are smooth operators in smart suits. Dr Cohen says that one of his strategies is to dress down so that the other side can relate to you. Pitch your look to suit your customer. You do not need to make them feel better than you but, For example, dressing in a style that is not overtly expensive or successful will make you more approachable. People will generally feel more comfortable with somebody who appears to be like them rather than superior to them. They may not like you but they will feel they can trust you.
Dr Cohen suggests that the best way to sell your proposal is by getting into the world of the other side. Ask questions rather than give answers and take an interes
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