Ethically Is Not For Sissies
John Patrick Dolan
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.
a matter of fact, negotiating on a mature, adult-to-adult basis is
even more demanding than slipping around and trying to manipulate or
trick the people you're negotiating with.
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
to Avoid Being Manipulated:
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 less-than-honest bargainers, people who have their eye on the
prize and have no qualms about running over you to get it.
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.
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.
have a system for negotiating that can handle any of the problems
that inevitably crop up when I'm with people from either group.
Tactic 1: Maintain your standards:
a person approaches negotiations aggressively out of ignorance, I
can eventually win him or her over to my style. Most people don't
want to be enemies. They just don't want to get ripped off. If you
can demonstrate to them that you're interested in a fair deal, they
will usually drop the aggressiveness routine and start to work with
Tactic 2: Protect yourself by not fighting back directly:
you meet with the people who don't want to play fair, you can
protect yourself - and you don't have to resort to trickery or
manipulation to do it. If
you think about it, most sharks are propelled by three basic drives
- greed, self-centeredness, and an exaggerated ego. And any of those
three drives makes them extremely vulnerable to a smart negotiator.
Fisher and William Ury call this approach "negotiation
jujitsu" in their book “Getting to Yes”. Jujitsu is a form
of martial arts that focuses on deflecting attacks rather than
engaging the enemy. If someone is running toward you aggressively,
you don't stand your ground and hit back when they run into you. You
step to the side and let them run past.
Tactic 3. Call in a third-party arbitrator:
in my experience as a lawyer and a businessman have I ever had to
call in a third-party arbitrator because the people I was
negotiating with insisted on using less-than-honorable techniques.
It almost never reaches this point. But probably most of us have
been involved in situations where we needed someone who was
completely impartial and had no links to anyone in the negotiations
to help guide the negotiating process.
benefit of bringing in a third party is that they can shift the
negotiations from positional bargaining to bargaining based on
interests. A third party can look at all sides objectively and weave
together a plan that takes into account everyone's interests.
Tactic 4. Bail out:
all else fails - you can't persuade the other party or parties to
negotiate honestly and openly, and a mediator doesn't work - abandon
the negotiations, at least for a while.
Maybe a deal just wasn't meant to be. Sometimes you get a gut
feeling telling you to get out of a certain negotiating situation.
Go with it. Remember, you will be negotiating from a much stronger
position if you are willing to walk away from the bargaining table.
Maybe both parties need more time to think about what they want and
what they are willing to give for it.
is a complex process, even under the best of circumstances. Every
person involved in a negotiation brings to the event a different
background, culture, perceptions, values, and standards. Breaking
through these differences can seem impossible, yet it is crucial to
creating a mutually beneficial agreement. Maintain your standards
you can't win cooperation, chances are you will gain nothing from
the negotiations. When you encounter people who aren't negotiating
ethically, try to bring them up to your level. If the other party
doesn't respond to your attempts to do so, be willing to walk away.
You won't have lost anything.
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about John Patrick Dolan.
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