Negotiate, Collaborate: 2

by Christopher Lovejoy on February 8, 2020

In my previous post, Negotiate, Collaborate, I gave readers a taste of my initial exploration into that magical kingdom known as negotiation. In recent days, I’ve learned, through various sources both online and off, just how complex (and potentially complicated) the sphere of negotiation can be.

Negotiation occurs inside a circulating process that includes preparation (for an exchange of information) on one side, and execution (of the terms and conditions of an agreement) on the other. In between lies negotiation proper, with three collaborative stages of process: exchange, bargain, conclude.

Many best practices in negotiation apply only to one stage of the process, whereas some apply across the board. This heuristic will help to absorb, analyze, and apply best practices in any negotiation:

the process:

prepare > [exchange > bargain > conclude] > execute … >

same process, two applications (one particular, one universal):

prepare > [exchange > bargain > conclude] > execute … > prepare … (to ensure execution)

prepare > [exchange > bargain > conclude] > execute … > prepare … (to foster relationship)


note: in a trusting, lasting relationship, collaborative negotiations (# 2) continue indefinitely

Even before one rushes headlong into striking a bargain (giving X to Y in exchange for Z), one is well advised to cultivate the exchange before and during the exchange, keeping in mind that there are no shortcuts to preparation, as fostering trust in relationship is key to the process.

What follows is a snapshot of the negotiating process, painted in broad brushstrokes as a reference to apply best practices and as a framework by which to guide yourself through the process itself.

Stage 1 (prepare) is a stage of research, with or without a counterpart present, and is dedicated to getting answers to three basic questions: (1) what is at stake here?; (2) which interests are held in common?; and (3) what facts and data will facilitate any future exchange of value?

So for example, you meet someone new. A conversation is sparked. You’re both delighted to realize potential value in the other. You explore mutual interests to identify a common objective. You gather facts that facilitate an exchange of value in view of this common objective.

Another example: you’re looking to do business with X who can help you to do Y. In researching options, you explore potential value, examine mutual interests, and gather any facts and data that might facilitate an exchange of value in view of a common objective that brings mutual benefit.

The negotiation proper begins with Stage 2 (exchange). At this stage, one is looking to answer three more questions: (1) in view of the value discerned, what other value might I add or find?; (2) what other interests might be relevant and/or significant to this exchange of value?; and (3) what can I do to validate my counterpart at this stage to foster rapport prior to the next stage (bargain)?

Stage 3 (bargain) is the iconic negotiation ~ the stage at which one strikes a bargain. At this stage, negotiators, having done their research and having made an exchange of information, are ready to discern and distribute value, tapping interests, while making and managing concessions.

In concluding the negotiation at Stage 4 (conclude), negotiators capture value and confirm that their interests have been met. This might be expressed as a verbal agreement, a written agreement, or a signed contract. In concluding the process, the stage is set to execute the agreement.

The final stage in the wake of negotiation (execute) provides opportunity to expand value, all the while addressing changing interests. At this stage, Stage 5, the make-or-break stage for extending relationship indefinitely, parties to the negotiation assess, if only implicitly, whether this relationship might be worth expanding or extending for some other reason, for a season, or for a lifetime.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing some well-known tips on how to negotiate with just about anyone.


a masterful negotiation?
the art of letting others have your way

~ yours

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