| Harvard Business Review
This article includes a one-page preview that quickly summarizes the key ideas and provides an overview of how the concepts work in practice along with suggestions for further reading. Negotiators often fail to achieve results because they channel too much effort into selling their own position and too little into understanding the other party's perspective. To get the best deal--or, sometimes, any deal at all--negotiators need to think like detectives, digging for information about why the other side wants what it does. This investigative approach entails a mind-set and a methodology, say Harvard Business School professors Malhotra and Bazerman. Inaccurate assumptions about the other side's motivations can lead negotiators to propose solutions to the wrong problems, needlessly give away value, or derail deals altogether. Consider, for example, the pharmaceutical company that deadlocked with a supplier over the issue of exclusivity in an ingredient purchase. Believing it was a ploy to raise the price, the drug maker upped its offer--unsuccessfully. In fact, the supplier was balking because a relative's company needed a small amount of the ingredient to make a local product. Once the real motivation surfaced, a compromise quickly followed. Understanding the other side's motives and goals is the first principle of investigative negotiation. The second is to figure out what constraints the other party faces. Often when your counterpart's behavior appears unreasonable, his hands are tied somehow, and you can reach agreement by helping overcome those limitations. The third is to view onerous demands as a window into what the other party prizes most--and use that information to create opportunities. The fourth is to look for common ground; even fierce competitors may have complementary interests that lead to creative agreements. Finally, if a deal appears lost, stay at the table and keep trying to learn more. Even if you don't win, you can gain insights into a customer's future needs, the interests of similar customers, or the strategies of competitors.
Keywords: Knowledge Acquisition;
Knowledge Use and Leverage;
Motivation and Incentives;