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Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Negotiation Podcast Analysis

I listened to and summarized three podcasts that discussed negotiation techniques.  The first discussed mutual benefits from creating a dynamic negotiation.  The second explains that some “objective criteria” can be used as dirty tricks.  The last podcast discussed preparing research and placing value on one’s offering in negotiation.  Enjoy!

Mary Olekains discussed the negotiation process and how negotiators should have game plans, and be clear about their objectives.  She explains that negotiators must supplement this game plan with being dynamic.  Negotiators should imagine the opponent playing a different game plan. This will help the first negotiator to switch their game plan or improvise to redirect the negotiation process. Engaging in a competitive, positional game will create a “spiral process”, according to Olekains.  The moves and countermoves take up time and escalate the level of defenses on each side.  Negotiators choose from power-based game plans, rights-based game plans, and interest-based game plans.  Preventative behaviors, like “not getting personal” (or separating the person from the problem), will allow negotiators to focus on interest-based negotiation.  In order to protect oneself from power moves, one should follow with an interest-based proposal.  In “Getting to Yes” (1991), the authors discuss the benefits of adopting an interest-based proposal. In principled negotiation, one separates the people from the problem, focuses on interests, provides objective criteria, and generates numerous options (Fisher, 1991). The authors explain that “Your interests are what caused you to decide” (Fisher, p.41). This means one could have many different interests behind their position. Mary Olekains further explains what interest-based negotiation requires to move the negotiation forward. Taking a restorative turn reminds the other negotiator that an agreement will help both. Taking a participative turn will allow both negotiators to brainstorm solutions with one another. Personal attacks, requests for sympathy, and threats are moves that negotiators should counter with either a corrective, naming, diverting, interrupting, or questioning turn. Olekains ends the lecture with a scenario of making the negotiation dynamic.  Her lecture confirmed the benefits of using interest-based negotiation.  Viewing the negotiation as a path that could either spiral out of control, or that could shift and change as turns are made in the process will help negotiators see the impact of their negotiation process. In the entertainment industry, creating a dynamic game plan will allow professionals to focus on merits, while keeping the relationship professional.  Taking preventative or participative turns in negotiation can also help negotiators grow their working relationship.  As a result, both entertainment professionals benefit from the agreement.

Paula Langguth Ryan talks about the importance of facts and figures, and gaining concessions. Many times, negotiators throw out numbers.  Paula stresses the importance of breaking down the impacts of numbers on the actions of other negotiators.  She used the Persian Gulf instability and the habit of gas providers to use declining numbers to justify raising their gas prices as an example.  She explained that it is important to pay attention when people spout out numbers, because sometimes those numbers are exceptions or outliers.  Getting caught up in the numbers game will make a negotiator miss an opportunity to improve their position.  When numbers consume the negotiation, negotiators forget about the other benefits of the negotiation.  By being open to changes, and stating it in negotiation, it allows for the other negotiator to work with you to solve the problem together. In this podcast, objective criteria were discussed in a different light by explaining how negotiators use numbers as dirty tricks.  Taking the other side’s objective criteria as the rule could create an unbalanced agreement in the end.  Dissecting objective criteria will give the negotiators the correct picture of the problem, and allow both of them to move towards a possibly more balanced agreement.  One of the first rules of objective criteria in “Getting to Yes” is to agree on the standards to apply (Fisher, p.88).  This step allows both negotiators to be on the same page with the numbers game. Phony facts, as discussed in “Getting to Yes” should be combated with verifying information (Fisher, p.133). In the entertainment industry, knowing that some numbers just do not apply as the rule will help negotiators to not agree to an unfair agreement.  For example, an agent providing salaries of seasoned actors as evidence of the rule of salaries for his client should not be acceptable.  What should be acceptable, however, is providing salaries of other actors with the same experience and exposure as the client.

Brian Dietmeyer discusses how people should keep negotiation simple. Negotiation is about the problem, and how much the negotiators will do to solve the problem.  The more data analysis a negotiator completes, the smoother a negotiation will go. Whichever negotiator has the most analysis will have the upper hand at the negotiation table.  Being able to list your side’s strengths and weaknesses will allow you to prepare and clarify your argument to the other side.  Most negotiators compare an alternative or ask for a concession.  This strategy puts the other side in a strong hold to change their initial request in order to make a deal.  In order to balance the negotiation, the negotiator should prepare and analyze as much as possible to understand the needs of the other side.  If you do not know your analysis better than the other side, the negotiation will be unbalanced.  This podcast was about analysis, and preparing for the negotiation properly.  Dietmeyer believes that as long as a negotiator predicts that the opponent will provide a better BATNA, or will ask for a concession, the negotiator will prepare what they want, the value of their offering, and what the other side might say before the negotiation even starts. Most people provide BATNAs that claim they could acquire the same proposal for a cheaper price.  By researching the value of the proposal before the negotiation, the negotiator makes the game much more balanced, especially if the value of their proposal is higher than other proposals with the same price.  This idea is discussed briefly in “Getting to Yes” (1991).  The authors state that if the other side is optimistic about their supposed BATNA, lowering their expectations and giving them a reality check will balance the negotiation (Fisher, p.105). In the entertainment industry, researching what sets the offering apart from others will make the other side believe that you, as a professional, understand your craft.  A production company or music group that offers numerous services, for example, could state that their services are valued at a lower price compared to competitors because they can cut costs from bundling their services for large projects. This can help the other side possibly save money.  As a result, the negotiation becomes more balanced, and is not dependent on just the price.  Knowing the value of one’s skill could be one of the most helpful strategies while at the negotiation table.

Fisher R., & Ury W. (1991). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in.  New York: Houghton Mifflin.