Learn some smart moves negotiating

Prepare and plan, choose your words carefully, be assertive without being aggressive Steve Smethurst discovers the key dos and donts of the skilled negotiator

James Saville, the HR director at Jacobs Bakery, reflects on the matter of negotiation skills: You have to take people with you, he says, because the second you move into confrontation, youve lost.

The most common mistake, says Saville, is for one party to argue along very logical and rational lines, while the other party is concerned with the emotional impact and that makes the logic completely irrelevant.

So how do you get around this problem? You have to put yourself in their shoes, he says. You might think that you are negotiating around a series of facts, but youre not, you are dealing with people. You have to work on a principle of shared vision and shared outcome and that doesnt mean the same as compromise, because compromise is just another word for failure.

James Borg, meanwhile, who recently published the book, The Inner Game of Selling Yourself, quotes Plato and Jung when asked about the best negotiation strategy.

Jung, he says, noted that language can influence thought and our words are the tools we use to create mental images. The wrong choice of words has precipitated many wars, divorces, fights and business bust-ups. He advocates the use of open statements such as, Wont you look at it this way?, Imagine it from my point of view or Any reason why productivity has dipped this month?. These are so much more preferable to You really dont have a clue, do you? or Your sales figures are pathetic.

Plato is reported to have said that, All knowledge is but remembrance. This, Borg says, means it is vital to commit names, details and other facts to memory Programming your mind, using associations to remember names, details and other facts pays dividends.

Being assertive is also a key to success in negotiating at board level. But its important that assertiveness doesnt come across as aggression. The first step is to stay calm, suggests Brian Clegg, author of Instant Negotiation. By being calm you appear to be in the right. Get your message across by the use of repetition and by selecting language that builds on what others say. Supporting material is indispensable to success.

HR people need to add value and take pride in what they are proposing, adds Clegg.

Saville agrees: You have to prepare and plan, I cant emphasise that strongly enough, he says. You also have to be clear about all the stakeholders who wants what and who is affected by what and why.

Saville also points out that there will almost certainly be factors that you dont know about perhaps youre in the middle of redundancy negotiations and the union official is being influenced by the fact that his earnings are linked to the number of union members at the company...

Saville concludes with the comment that although there are a lot of highfalutin theories out there on negotiation, at the end of the day you have to do the simple things, and do them well.