by Leon J.Owens
After several decades of balancing the needs of my clients with those of their creditors and competitors, I’ve learned that the very act of negotiating—whereby two or more parties come together over a single issue, each with competing interests of their own—is at the foundation of nearly everything we do on a daily basis.
Whether we’re buying or selling, urging others to follow our lead, managing team members, driving a productive work process, or simply planning a staff meeting, we are always navigating through the motivations, needs, and requirements of others to reach our own ideal objective. Negotiating is simply part of our daily business life with its roots in a basic cornerstone of human relations: personal persuasion.
We all want our business partners (and adversaries) to agree with us; they want us to agree with them. Somewhere between those polar forces there is a point of compromise where all parties will agree to move forward and conduct business that is, to one degree or another, mutually beneficial.
At Real Estate Matters, we have always operated with the implicit understanding that merely “winning” a negotiation simply sets the stage for later problems. Agreements based upon one party dominating another in a “win-lose” scenario frequently collapse under the weight of changing marketplace conditions, harbored resentments, and demands for renegotiation.
When all parties understand and are familiar with “the steps of the ladder” to a successful negotiation, the risk of someone tumbling off that ladder (and the chance of a deal falling apart) is greatly reduced.
Here are the Six Steps we subscribe to in every Real Estate Matters business dealing:
- We want to persuade those with whom we’re dealing, but if there is a hint of unfairness or lack of ethics, suspicion on all deal points will arise and send the parties away from the table.
- The essential dynamic of doing business is simply people coming together for a common purpose. If the parties don’t share a similar purpose, barriers to an agreement will eventually become insurmountable. We want to respect the people we’re working with so that we can achieve an agreement we can all live with.
- It’s no secret that the past performance of a party to a negotiation is a good indicator of what to expect today and in the future. Where there is a pattern of follow-through on commitments, there’s a strong likelihood of ongoing, consistent performance. And when those commitments are expressed in writing, there is an even greater chance for a successful negotiating outcome. People tend to do what they say they’re going to do…when it’s in writing.
- Give-and-take. People listen to people who have listened to them. Truly giving full attention to others as they express their objectives or needs goes a long way toward getting your own points listened to. If you “pay” unexpected and personal attention to the other side in a negotiation, you’ll very likely see your investment returned with additional information and unexpected concessions.
- Setting Limits. When a negotiation is conducted within a framework of tentative time or resource limitations, a sense of urgency drives everyone toward an agreement. Imposing restrictions upon a business discussion, wherein one party or another appreciates the potential for the wrong outcome, goes a long way toward getting people “off the dime” and to a successful closing.
- Establishing Authority. If you have credibility in the eyes of others, they will respect your position and leadership. Merely posturing yourself as an expert can actually work against you; who doesn’t enjoy challenging self-appointed experts? The key to establishing authority in a negotiation is to have a third party declare your expertise via a record of accomplishments, referrals, recognized credentials, and publications you’ve authored.
Scaling the ladder to a successful negotiation—one in which all parties feel satisfied with the outcome—doesn’t have to be a precarious struggle. Keeping both hands and feet firmly on these six rungs of the ladder guarantees your effectiveness as a respected negotiator.
At Real Estate Matters, we practice “the art of negotiation” simply and directly, always remembering that business is all about the people. If you’re interested in working with experienced professionals who can help you achieve your objectives, we are here for you.