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All Alone

Brian Buck
© Scotwork NA

Strength in numbers… Teamwork makes the dream work... We are better together… We’ve all heard these sayings about the virtues of working together. So much so, it’s often frowned upon when we work in our “silos”. But let’s face it, sometimes we can’t always work in teams to get a job done. At Scotwork we embrace and advocate a team approach to negotiations, but what do you do when you are all by yourself at the negotiation table?

When you are caught by yourself at the negotiation table it can be a harrowing experience. That’s why I would advise you always seek to have another pair of eyes and ears at the negotiating table with you. Think about it… when you are actively engaged in a dialogue, who’s listening? Who is listening for signals of flexibility or the nuance of language? Who’s keeping track of everything being said and all the details of the negotiation? By just having at least one or two other people at the negotiating table with you, you increase your ability to succeed exponentially. However, even the best negotiators can get caught at the table alone. When that happens here a few tips to ensure the best possible outcome when you are by yourself.

1) Slow Down

You are going to have to be methodological about your approach. You can’t rush it. To help you stay the course, prepare well. Ensure you know what you are trying to achieve, your priorities, and your limits. Constantly refer back to these to make sure you are addressing them. It’s also a good idea to prepare questions you want to ask in advance so you don’t have to think about them during the conversation but rather you can devote that time to just listening. Again, keep coming back to your list of questions to make sure you’ve got them answered.

2) Take copious notes

Since you are by yourself, taking notes is a great way for you to stay present and engaged in what the other side is saying. It’s too easy to start to thinking about the next thing to say and stop actively listening to the other side. You must stay attentive or you are liable to miss those signals of flexibility or other key information that may help you with your negotiation.

3) Summarize often

It’s a good practice to take notes and summarize aloud frequently throughout the negotiation. This will not only ensure that you are capturing all the salient points, but it will also give your brain a moment to reflect on what’s been said. You can also ask the other side to do the summary for you. As they summarize, compare what they say to your notes to make sure you’ve captured everything.

4) Take frequent breaks

While it’s tempting to just slug it out till all the deal points are solved, you need time to think and process what is happening. Find ways to take a break. If in person, taking restroom breaks or coffee breaks are easy enough to do. If you are on the phone, putting someone on hold, even for a minute, to contemplate what is happening is hugely beneficial. The more time you give yourself to reflect on the negotiation, the better your decisions will be. Taking breaks also help keep your emotions in check and allows you space to reset and be focused.

5) Resist instant decisions

When you’re alone the other party may pressure you to make on the spot decisions or you might feel compelled to be agreeable in the moment, my advice is to step away and think about it before you make a decision. There’s no harm in signaling how you are feeling, but do yourself a favor to review your notes, look over what you’re trying to achieve, and really give some thought to the decisions you make. If need be, get a second opinion because once the decision is made, it may be difficult to change it later.

Again, my advice is to never negotiate alone. But I know that’s not always possible. So when you’re by yourself, just follow the five tips and you’ll increase your chances of being successful.

Tired of Being Alone?

You don’t have to be alone at the negotiating table ever again! Whether we help you prepare or we sit with you at the negotiation table, we are always there to help you with your negotiations.

No matter how skilled you are or how much leverage you have, we can help you succeed at the negotiation table.Talk to one of our experts today.

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