I met someone today who said something about negotiation that struck me as misguided. They said “I must be a great negotiator because I always get what I want.”   That can be taken many ways, perhaps a warning – it was said at the end of our very first meeting about a project we are to work on together – a trite off the cuff remark, or perhaps more that they believe that negotiation is all about getting what you want.

I won’t bore you with the background, but I genuinely believe she said this with the latter in mind. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, maybe. Negotiation is about getting (some) of what you want, but it also about giving something to the other side (some of what they want). It is not a one-way affair, it is very much a two-way collaboration.

The very definition of negotiation is: The process by which I get something I want from someone who wants something from me.

It is not a demand, an instruction, a coercion or an extortion. In negotiation, we exchange wants to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Either, or both, sides can say no at any point if the deal doesn’t work for them. Getting what you want can be part of the deal but only part.

Ask yourself this: You have 2 clients, both of equal value to your business, one negotiated well and you have a good deal with them, the other who pushed you very hard and you ended up doing a very poor deal. One week both these clients need your skills / services / products immediately for an emergency situation. You can only give one client your ‘A’ team, which client do you choose to give the very best service / product / skills to?

Getting everything you want is not always a good thing in negotiation when we have to live with the consequences.   Remember to think about what they are getting too, after all you never know when you might just need that little bit extra from your suppliers.

My response today: “Negotiation is about living with the consequences of the deals you do.”

Do you agree?