While we often think of the word “negotiation” only in terms of such specific events as buying a car or asking for a raise, the fact is, we are negotiating with someone almost every day of our lives.
“Whether you are dealing with your children, or your spouse, or your boss or a co-worker, if the conversation involves one person wanting to obtain something from the other, it is a negotiation,” says Charlie Dolce, director of global consulting services for Janus Capital Group, in Bucks County.
Dolce will discuss “Improving Your Negotiating Prowess” at the next meeting of the Mercer Chapter of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners on Thursday, September 10, at 6 p.m. at the Wyndham Princeton Forrestal Hotel and Conference Center. Cost: $39. Reservations can be made at www.njawbomercer.org.
Dolce is a member of Janus Labs, a division of the national investment company that is dedicated to training its professionals and its clients in a variety of subjects designed to improve skills. He has been employed in the financial services industry for 26 years and received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke. He is also a certified investment management analyst.
The interactive program on negotiation, developed by Richard Shell of the Wharton School of Business at Penn, is designed to give each member of the audience a chance to practice a negotiation. “You learn so much about negotiating by actually practicing it, rather than just hearing a lecture about it,” Dolce says. One of the keys to success in negotiation is to understand your own personal style.
Competitive. People who are competitive negotiators are often results-oriented, self-confident, assertive, and focused on the bottom line. They might attempt to impose their views on another party and can become aggressive about getting their way. Feeling that they have won the negotiation is all-important to them.
Collaborative. Negotiators who have a collaborative style often use open and honest communication in their negotiations and focus on finding creative solutions that are mutually satisfying. They are usually open to exploring new solutions and suggest many alternatives for consideration by the other party.
Compromising. Negotiators who exhibit this style are often looking to find the middle ground, splitting the difference between positions. They will frequently try to engage in give-and-take tradeoffs and accept moderate satisfaction of both parties’ needs.
Avoidance. People who use the avoidance style of negotiation are passive and prefer to avoid conflict. They will make attempts to withdraw from the situation or pass responsibility onto another party; they often seem to show adequate concern or make an honest attempt to get to a solution.
Accommodation. Negotiators who are accommodating will make attempts to maintain relationships with the other party, to smooth over conflicts, and to downplay differences. They are usually most concerned with satisfying the needs of the other party, rather than their own.
It is important to understand your own style of negotiating, but it also important that you understand the style of the person you are negotiating with. “A person who scores high in the compromising area might have to negotiate against a competitive person, who wants to win at all costs. To win in this negotiation the compromiser needs to enhance their competitive urges and tone down the urge to compromise,” says Dolce. “You should allow the competitive person to feel that they have won on some small issues.”
As with most skills, the only way to improve as a negotiator is to practice. “This is something you can only learn by doing,” says Dolce. “Once you understand the basics of negotiation you will start to become aware of it in conversations where you never saw it before.”
One area of negotiation where many people in this country are uncomfortable is in sales. In many cultures, negotiating on price is not only accepted, but expected. In the United States, were are more reluctant to try our hand at negotiating. But, says Dolce, “you can negotiate on almost anything you want to buy.” When negotiating on a sale, particularly for large ticket items such as a car, it is important to do your research first. “Go in having an idea of the going rate for the thing you want to buy,” he says.
But don’t forget to negotiate on smaller purchases, also. “If I go in to buy a suit I’m going to negotiate on the price. If I want to buy three shirts I’m going to ask, ‘Now how many ties are you going to give me,’ “ he says. “Electronic equipment, appliances, clothing, pretty much anything you want to buy you can negotiate on. Remember, it never hurts to ask. If you aren’t negotiating you are leaving money on the table that you could be putting into your pocket.”