Do Your Homework

I want to take a quick look at some of the things I learnt from chapter four of pushback. This chapter covers what Selena Rezvani sees as the second stage of negotiation, doing you homework and preparing for the negotiation.

I’m the kind of person who likes to be prepared. In my school days I was the kind of student who had a beautifully crafted revision timetable and revision cards. Being prepared for me was not just about knowing the stuff, it was the calmness and confidence it brought me going into the exam. In this chapter Rezvani highlights the same benefits from proper prep before a negotiation. Proper preparation benefits you in the actual conversation phase by helping you make a well reasoned and knowledgeable argument and allowing you to better handle challenges with a level head.

There have been times when I’ve arranged a meeting without proper prep and what generally happens is I come out of it thinking of all the arguments I didn’t make or areas I forgot to cover.

Practice and rehearse often! The more you do that, the more likely the outcome will be in your favour. If you don’t take the time to rehearse or prepare you have to ask yourself how much do you really care about whatever it is you’re negotiating for. April Carty-Sipp

If you really care about something and want the best chance to get the desired result you need to put in the time to create the best case possible. The book puts across a framework to follow when preparing.

1. Gather the Tangibles

In order to add credibility to your case you need to ground your argument in facts. Find relevant information to back up your case e.g. case studies, competitors approach, performance metrics, financial figures etc. If you want to make a change to how something is done you need to know inside out how it is currently done and why it hasn’t been changed. Where is the resistance? Try to tie your request in with the long term direction of your company i.e. be a visionary.

2. Get in their Head

One argument doesn’t fit all. People have their own views on things, reasons for resistance and are persuaded by different arguments, information and styles of negotiation. You need to know what makes them tick. What do they care about? What do they struggle with? Can you find a way to tie your desired outcome into alleviating a struggle. e.g. You want extra responsibility and their workload is too heavy…win win. How have they reacted to similar negotiations in the past? Which have they supported or rejected. Why haven’t they done this before? What is holding them back. How can you alleviate this concern? Try to communicate in a way that shows your similarities and build trust.

Set yourself up to win at making your request and set them up to win at saying ‘yes’ to your request, Selena Rezvani

All the time you’re thinking of how to best make your case to get the desired result and how to make the decision to say yes easier and as pain free as possible for the decision makers.

3. Enlist your Network

You have one view on what you’re negotiating for and the person you have to persuade. Having a network of people you can bounce things off helps you create a more rounded case and consider other options and arguments. People who think differently are particularly useful in this respect.

The book talks about socializing ideas which is about testing them out on a subset of people to see how they respond and what it takes to make them receptive. This gives you insight on the kind of arguments it’ll take to get a yes in your final negotiation.

4. Choose Strategies and a Style

This section focuses in on the fact that one strategy and style will not win every negotiation for you. Indeed you’ll probably need to change tact and use different styles and strategies during a single negotiation. Avoid one dimensional “I want to be right”.

Think about what will be persuasive, where resistance will occur. Be willing to do the majority of work to make an idea happen. Decision makers lack time so do the research for them and have the info at hand to help them make an informed decision. This information should answer questions like “Why is now the right time?”, “How are competitors approaching this?” and “What are the potential downsides”. Move from “I want” to making a case that shows the benefits for the person you are convincing.

5. Prepare to Tell the Story

This stage takes your facts and knowledge and turns them into a compelling story that people can connect with. Taylor it to your audience and what they care about.

Show other options but make your desired one most attractive. This shows you’ve thought it through and explored other avenues.

Think about what people remember the most. By putting your key message in the opening and closing you’ll make the most impact.

Come up with headlines which will remind you of the key messages to get across and keep you on track when you meet resistance or the negotiation gets taken an unexpected route.

6. Nail Down the Logistics

Think about venue, timing (not when people are hungry or wanting to go home), have a plan of the format, who needs to be there and what you want to cover off. In person is always the best way to negotiate. Being able to see people’s body language gives you context.

The final point I want to cover is that there doesn’t have to be one successful outcome. Often there are alternate solutions which would still leave you satisfied. Think before hand what theses alternates are.

I hope that’s been a useful look at the benefits of being prepared. In my next post I’ll look at the actual conversation.