Inexperienced negotiators are liable to make several mistakes during a negotiation.
A few of these to watch out for are as follows:
Failing to prepare in advance of the negotiation will weaken your position. Assembling all facts and evidence in support of your position ahead of the negotiation helps to affirm and strengthen your arguments. It is also worth reflecting on any constraints that may be imposed on any potential settlement such as internal governance and examining possible weakness in your position.
Make sure you invite the right people to the negotiation. Remember that you will need to create a proactive problem-solving forum to be successful. Employing people specifically to prove the other side wrong, such as lawyers or experts, can be a mistake. Make sure you have a person who has authority to make a settlement.
It is easy to lose sight of the negotiating process and focus purely on the substance and detail of issues in dispute. Try to maintain an oversight on the whole process and do not get fixated on defending singular issues or staying on difficulties for too long. Try to emphasise the points on which agreement has been reached and set up a monitoring process to record individual agreements as progress is made.
Be aware of the behaviours you and your team display. Failing to listen, acting on assumption and using questions poorly can exacerbate a dispute. Avoid talking about “justice” or “fairness” and instead focus on the market price for the resolution of the negotiation. Finally, avoid personal insults and the targeting of individuals.
Extracted from an article by Chris Green, Group Commercial Director at J. Murphy & Sons Limited, explaining why negotiation is vital to construction, and how to improve your skills while upholding ethical and professional standards. First published in RICS Construction Journal February-March 2018.