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Tuesday, 08 May 2012 17:31

Conversational Negotiation, A Key Business Skill: Mumpreneur Blog By Polly McGee

The Art of Conversational Negotiation

I say negotiation, you say conversation.


One of my mumpreneur clients was describing to me the other day this incredible deal she had brokered on a premises for her business.


I congratulated her on her keen negotiation skills, and she quickly assured me she was terrible at negotiation, this was just a conversation with a happy ending.


So aside from her being a negotiator-denier, this made me think about how people (particularly women) view the negotiation process as being adversarial, confrontational and win/lose. Of course it can be all these things, but it doesn’t have to be.


Susan Scott, the author of Fierce Conversation, says “everything begins with a conversation”.


She is talking in the context of good communication leading to better business, leadership and all relationships. However, I think this is a profoundly accurate concept, and sits at the heart of negotiating.


As a mumpreneur, you may well think of yourself as being a long way from a negotiator. If you think about transferrable skills however, mums are constant negotiators.


Mothers use a range of techniques to get the outcomes they want from their fierce, clever and emotionally manipulative adversaries – also known as children.


Negotiating is about both parties getting a deal that they perceive serves their best interest. It’s kinda like a value proposition – the outcome is the reason that people put their hand in their pocket and make a transaction.


If you enter a negotiation from the perspective of what best serves the other party, then you can think about what it is you are offering them, that makes a compelling prospect for them to agree to your request.


When thinking about your negotiating conversations here are some tips:

  •  Know what you want AND ask for it - don’t ask don’t get style, forget the poker face and try the transparent honest broker face.
  • Anticipate what the person you are negotiating with sees as the value proposition in the deal for them – meet their needs to have yours met.
  • Know that this is not your only option – even if it seems like it, there will always be another deal or opportunity, be clear where your line in the sand is and don’t cross it.
  • Go into the negotiation expecting and wanting the best from the conversation – this intention will keep your body language and mind in check.
  • If the conversation appears to be moving into an adversarial space, reframe it and remember previous points – you can be firm and friendly, and so can they.

Using these ideas as part of your strategy means that you have a good chance of getting a win-win in everything you do, including getting the broccoli eaten before the dessert!

Dr Polly McGee a co-founder of Startup Tasmania, which aids fast-growth start-ups in the state. She’s behind the MumpreneurIDEAS program, a one day workshop that assists women to start-up and is also a senior lecturer in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tasmania in their MBA and undergraduate program. 

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