The six stages to a successful negotiation

In a global business environment, negotiations are more important than ever because complex variables must be considered

Negotiations take place every day in our private and business lives.

Skilful negotiation plays a large part in building a successful career – especially a power job with a global company.

Getting a great job involves a series of negotiations. High-value candidates can negotiate virtually anything – salary, benefits, working hours, perks, advancement prospects and vacation and sick time. They can even negotiate who they will work with.

And on the job, there are daily negotiations with bosses, co-workers, vendors and customers.

In a global business environment, negotiations are more important than ever because complex variables must be considered. It takes world-class negotiation skills and international savvy to close successful business deals in other countries.

Whether negotiating domestically or internationally, all negotiations take place through the following six stages:

Orientation and fact-finding. Fact-finding ought to begin before the actual negotiation takes place. To negotiate from a position of strength, you ought to know a great deal about the person and organization you’re dealing with. The more information obtained in the early stages of negotiations, the bigger the dividends will be in the negotiation’s later stages.

Resistance. It’s often a painful but unavoidable part of any negotiation. Expect resistance and be prepared to deal with it. If you don’t encounter resistance, it could be a signal that there is little interest in meaningful negotiations.

Reformulation of strategies. Negotiation strategies are developed when planning a negotiation. As information and data is acquired, it is important to reassess earlier strategies. Questions to ask: What is the motivation of the different parties? What strategies worked and which ones don’t work?  This important stage requires creativity and ingenuity.

Hard bargaining and decision-making. Determine real needs of both sides. This requires thought and concentration so that you get a handle on the objectives of the person you’re negotiating with. What issues are involved? This is the time to come up with options for mutual gain that will result in a win-win outcome for both parties.

Agreement. This is when complex details are clearly worked out so that there are no misunderstandings. Ratification may be by a boss, manager, attorney or senior management.

Follow-up. An often forgotten or poorly dealt with stage, follow-up is essential in successful negotiations. An effective follow-up sets the stage for the next negotiation. The follow-up stage is an opportunity for relationship building. It’s also a networking opportunity that ought to be pursued.

But this is only one important part of a negotiation. Now you have to learn to deal with the four most difficult challenges faced by global negotiators. Here’s a quick summary of each one:

Overcoming culture shock. Culture shock results when lacking familiar signposts of how to conduct ourselves. In international negotiations, they include how to shake hands properly, forms of address and to whom comments should be addressed.

Negotiating with your boss and headquarters’ staff back home. Negotiating with an international counterpart can be difficult, but negotiating with your own boss – and other staffers in the home office – can be brutal. Once you recognize all the things that could go wrong, you’re on your way to warding off problems.

Resolving bribery and questionable payment issues. What constitutes a bribe or payoff in the U.S. or Canada may be considered day-to-day business in many foreign countries. Clearly, negotiating on an international scale may require readjusting value and ethical standards in order to deal with certain international clients.

Dealing with international virtual and remote teams. In a global business environment, you must adjust to working with people in your own company who are located in different parts of the world. Taking into consideration time and language barriers, this is no simple feat.


successful negotiation

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