By George Dimitriadis
Negotiation is an integral part of our everyday life, at a professional and personal level. We negotiate with one or more parties, in formal and informal settings, for significant or trivial issues so naturally that we do not even realise that we are doing it.
In a business environment, the aim of the negotiation practice is to act as a “value generating machine” and actively support the overall strategic objectives of the business. For this reason, business negotiations are typically linked to various departments, projects and corporate objectives.
In order to be able to effectively plan, execute and evaluate different types of negotiations, you need to learn and continually develop a set of negotiation skills as well as a holistic understanding of how the negotiation is connected with the wider business. You may have a natural talent for particular aspects of the negotiation practice, like strong interpersonal skills, but like most things in life, a well-rounded and effective negotiator is not born, they are made.
Every negotiation has a strategic, a tactical and an operational dimension. The strategic dimension defines what the purpose of the negotiation is, the tactical dimension describes how to achieve your strategy and the operational dimension offers the tools and practices that are necessary for successfully executing the negotiation plan.
Although all of the above dimensions are critical for the negotiation to generate sustainable value, many negotiation training programmes often focus only on the tactical aspect. The lion’s share of the time is spent on how to handle your body language, how to remain silent or act under pressure and generally how to think in a tactical way. The much overlooked strategic dimension, though, is what gives direction to the whole activity, and what connects it to the needs of the wider business. On the other hand, the operational dimension, that also does not receive enough attention, is the bridge between theory and practice, as it brings your plan to life. Get the strategic and operational activities wrong, and no matter how good your tactical skills are, the negotiation will not be successful. The result of focusing on some “pop” tactical aspects and only superficially addressing the other two dimensions, is suboptimum negotiations that leave significant value on the table.
The better you know how to plan and execute negotiations, the greater the benefits you can generate for your business, as well as for your professional development.
For more information on negotiation please access the white paper contained in the members section of procurementdoctor.com. You can also access practical tools to help you connect the different dimensions of a negotiation.
George Dimitriadis is a Procurement and Management professional who has led, directed and supported hundreds of negotiations in Europe and the USA with a variety of companies, ranging from top management consultancies and manufacturing giants to the small and medium businesses in their supply chains. He is the author of the “Negotiation Hypercube” book and director of Metagora Ltd, a Procurement management consultancy. He holds an MSc in Supply Chain Management, a BA in Management and is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (MCIPS).
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