Negotiation - Part 1: A Holistic Approach

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means you still receive the best price and we may also receive a commission if you click a link and purchase a book that we have recommended.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means you still receive the best price and we may also receive a commission if you click a link and purchase a book that we have recommended.

Negotiation is arguably one of the most valuable skills any individual in the corporate world can possess. On any given day, executives encounter a host of scenarios which require strong negotiation strategies. It’s no surprise that negotiation is a topic that we often address in the executive coaching world. 

When executives first come to us for a coaching engagement, we typically start out with a series of assessments that give us valuable insight into their leadership skills, belief systems, strengths, and weaknesses. These assessments provide a foundational understanding of how executives view their own competencies that allow them to be successful in their lives and in their work. 

While job-specific competencies are important, we prefer to focus on more common competencies with clients first because they pay dividends across multiple aspects of a person’s life. Negotiation is one of the first common competencies that we focus on with corporate executives.

Why Negotiation?

In order to be a skilled negotiator, you need to be articulate, empathetic, and understanding. As such, improving negotiation skills serves as a strong foundation for many other leadership qualities.

Negotiation skills play a large role in the daily interactions of most CEOs, founders, and board members. Whether they are attempting to secure prospective clients, forming partnership agreements, or restructuring their executive team, having the ability to process multiple viewpoints and reach an agreement is a vital part of the work world. 

By reframing your approach to negotiation, you can elevate your success and bring a new viewpoint to the table in scenarios that could have a large impact on the direction and profitability of your company. 

The Shortcomings of Sales-Oriented Negotiation

For the majority of people, negotiation skills come from what they have practically experienced in their lives -- from the household they were raised in, people they interacted with early in their careers, and how other people negotiate with them while trying to sell them something. Most of those scenarios were tainted with a sales-oriented approach.

Sales-oriented negotiation is limiting because it is always a zero-sum game. When two parties are negotiating in that instance, they are each trying to get the biggest piece of the pie, which automatically puts them in conflict. It isn’t a way to grow or increase value outside of oneself. 

Added-Value Negotiation

William Ury, negotiation expert and author of Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Getting Past No: Negotiating In Difficult Situations, and The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get To Yes, popularized an alternative approach to negotiation. His work highlights added-value negotiation. 

In this approach, parties work together to achieve a common beneficial outcome. Rather than focusing on your individual benefit, you expand your outlook to a more holistic view of the situation and find new ways to create value for all parties involved by seeking to understand the foundational motivations of each party.

That same core idea is the very basis of negotiation; finding not what the other party is asking for, but what their true internal motivation is. Once you have that, you can figure out how to satisfy those motivations in a productive and positive way, creating massive value beyond yourself and your benefit. 

The majority of negotiation situations in the corporate world benefit from an approach that involves collaboration and not competition. When you shift your belief system in regards to negotiation, and you realize that not only is a win/win possible, but that it is the most desirable outcome in most situations, you can take yourself into the next level as a leader, as an executive, and as a person. 

Applying Negotiation Techniques

Added-value negotiation can benefit anyone across a variety of situations. William Ury’s books are great resources for learning valuable techniques to discover intrinsic motivations between negotiating parties, generating outcomes that would benefit everyone, and working together to achieve those mutually valuable goals. 

Of course, there is a big difference between academically reading about concepts and putting them into practice or mastering the skills. In our coaching engagements, we orchestrate practical experience and discuss scenarios that executives face daily that would benefit from applying that understanding. We test the skills our clients read and learn about and work through ways they can take the techniques and elevate their real world negotiation practices. 

Nobody becomes a master negotiator instantly. However, with hard work and practice, our executive clients rapidly ramp their skills up. Through our coaching engagements, we as coaches serve as a sounding board for how to implement techniques from the books, and we practice scenarios together and brainstorm the best strategies. Together we can develop visualizations for how they would like to utilize them in their business. 

Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Growing executives into master negotiators is a rewarding part of our job as coaches. We encourage everyone, regardless of their profession or position, to reflect on their own negotiation skills and view our recommended books on the topic.

If you are interested in advancing that learning beyond what you will find in a book, gather valuable practical experience, and gain a coach who will serve as a champion for you in your journey, reach out to us today to schedule your free strategy session, and begin your path towards stronger skills in negotiation and many other valuable competencies.

Heath Dieckert