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There are many reasons why you may need to negotiate including:
- Stakeholder conflicts
- Team member disagreements
- Project scope conflicts
- Project goals
- Methodology utilized
- Scheduling conflicts
To help you gain the upper hand when conflicts such as these occur, let’s take a look at some categories of negotiating techniques.
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Categories and Methods
Not every negotiating technique will work in every situation; however, situational factors play an important role.
One-Time Negotiations – If you find a conflict comes with a stakeholder you won’t likely be dealing with in the future, you might way to play hardball. Hold the negotiation at your location, not theirs. Offer up your points in a bullet-form style, ultimately coming to why your way is the only way. Set the time limit for the negotiation short—the longer you’re in there, the more opportunity you give the opponent to argue their case. Hit them with undeniable facts and past experience. Explain how your method or style has worked in the past and is a proven way to proceed. Be prepared to sway their arguments with knowledge you and you alone possess. These one-time negotiations will go your way if the other party wants to stay involved.
Give a Little, Take a Little – This category of negotiating techniques requires you to make some concessions. You should still negotiate on your home field, however. Know ahead of time what the stakeholder will be asking for and make decisions in advance on what you will give in to. Make a short list of what you want from them in return. In negotiations such as these, your ultimate goal is to have both parties walk out feeling they won.
Stand-Offs – Much like labor unions, this negotiation style is tough because neither side is willing to budge. Often a mediator can help in this circumstance so conflicting parties don’t have to argue face to face—which can be a long process lasting for days, or longer. If your conflicts seem to be in the stand-off category, your best bet is to be prepared to make concessions—if only to lessen the length of the stand-off. Make a list of what you can concede to and what you absolutely won’t consider.
Written Negotiation – This negotiation technique is helpful where many stakeholders are involved with tons of wants, needs, and opinions. As the project leader, suggest they submit ideas or arguments in writing before you meet. Determine what will and won’t work for the project. Let idea submitters know up front that you will make the final decision for the sake of the project.
External Conflicts – When stakeholders are external, they often portray they hold all the cards in order for your project to succeed. These negotiations are easily squashed by offering them a list of alternative external stakeholders you have utilized in the past. If they want to be part of the project, they’ll concede to your wants.
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Tips on Negotiating
Good negotiators have great debating skills and are prepared ahead of time. They also offer a firm hand (and head) when negotiations take place. Never send a lamb to do a lion’s job—or use a team member that may not possess the strongest of negotiating skills.
These categories of negotiation techniques may at times be difficult; however, learning some tricks and tips for negotiating will ensure success almost every time you find stakeholders at a standstill.