Magazine article Business Credit

Negotiating Ethically Is Not for Sissies

Magazine article Business Credit

Negotiating Ethically Is Not for Sissies

Article excerpt

Negotiating isn't easy, no matter what your style. Negotiating to get what you want takes brains and backbone, regardless of whether you're gunning for your negotiating counterparts, or focusing on designing equitable solutions. You have to think through what you want and the most effective way to get it. And you have to have the moxie to follow through with your plans. Sometimes just asking for something takes nerve. After all, some of us were taught as children not to ask for anything; instead, we were to wait until it was offered. That courtesy may have won you points with your second-grade teacher, but it'll kill you in the real world. We usually have to go after what we want. And to get what we want, we have to be shrewd negotiators, even when we try to maintain high ethical standards.

As a matter of fact, negotiating on a mature, adultto-adult basis is even more demanding than slipping around and trying to manipulate or trick the people you're negotiating with.

First of all, being open and honest takes guts. It takes nerve basically to say to the people you're negotiating with, "I want to play fair. How about you?" or "This is what I want. How about you, and how can we both get what we want?" You're challenging them to meet you on your level, and you're asking them to focus on more than their individual needs. You can get some strange reactions because people aren't used to an open approach to negotiating. Some people don't want to negotiate that way, which brings me to a second reason ethical negotiations can be so challenging. Making sure that you don't get manipulated by someone who is not so honest takes savvy.

How To Avoid Being Manipulated

A difference in standards can cause serious problems when negotiating. Just because you follow all the principles I outline through Negotiate Like the Pros, that doesn't guarantee that everyone you negotiate with will be as mature and fair-minded as you are. (I know that once you've learned all my negotiating secrets, you're going to be mature and fair-minded, right?) You have to be prepared to run into lessthan-honest bargainers, people who have their eye on the prize and have no qualms about running over you to get it.

These people have no interests in forging mutually beneficial agreements. They are only interested in what's good for them, and they don't mind abusing others to get it. They are the hardballers. They want to play rough. They don't care if there's such a thing as principled negotiating. They think they can get more by bullying the people they negotiate with. They believe they're stronger than their opponents and think they can walk away with the spoils if they go for the jugular vein.

Don't misunderstand me. Not every person you meet at the negotiating table is going to be an unscrupulous rogue. Some people don't share your high standards for negotiating because they don't know any better. Before reading this article, what were your attitudes toward negotiating? Did you see it as a "me-against-my-opponent" proposition? Did you feel like the only way you could win was for someone else to lose? Some people don't realize there's a better, easier way to negotiate.

I have a system for negotiating that can handle any of the problems that inevitably crop up when I'm with people from either group.

Defense Tactic 1: Maintain your standards.

If a person approaches negotiations aggressively out of ignorance, I can eventually win him or her over to my style. …

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