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Evan Davis on... negotiation

Updated Saturday, 21st February 2009

The Bottom Line presenter Evan Davis reflects on how the panel came to a consensus on negotiation.

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Well, people say that life is a negotiation, so it was interesting to hear the reflections of our panel on how to negotiate. And what was interesting, was how they all agreed on two very important points.

One was that you should know your bottom line; what is it that will determine you don’t want to do a deal at all? You have to know that before you even go into any kind of discussion about a deal.

The second was not to always see the negotiation as a win/lose situation, as that every pound that one person gets the other person loses. If you can find something in the deal where it matters to one but not the other, you give that to the person who really cares about it. And, in your negotiating, you make sure that the things that matter to you are the things that you don’t yield on, and you yield a lot on the things that don’t really matter to you.

It was interesting that they all agreed on that. But it was also, I thought, particularly interesting that they didn’t really think that they negotiated in a simple way very often because, far more typically, they’re in a relationship with somebody, they’re in a situation where they’re repeating the same negotiation time after time and consequently you’re giving a bit and taking a bit and you’re trying to understand the other person, the other side of the deal, in a longer term context. And, if you’re not even doing that, you’re trying to establish a reputation that you’re someone who negotiates in a particular kind of way.

So, in an interesting way, I think it was that there’s a simple view of negotiation which you get some tips on, but negotiation in practice is a more complicated affair because it’s a long-term thing rather than a one-off deal.

 

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