Good negotiation skill in business is critical to success. You’re buying, you’re selling, and you need to get the best deals possible or the numbers won’t add up.
In The Art of Negotiation I layed out the basics of preparing to negotiate. I also stressed the importance of a win-win situation. The object of a negotiation is to create something new. Something ideal. And something bigger than either party could ever do or be alone.
To do that, you both have to defend your interests. You both have to make it out alive. And you both have to help each other do that.
Aikido and Negotiation
Aikido is an amazing martial art created by Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. It’s based on principles of the highest integrity. In Aikido, you have the right to defend yourself against attack, and yet, neither you nor your opponent should be critically harmed during the conflict. Aikido achieves this using two basic elements:
- It’s designed to use your opponents force against them. To redirect it, guide it, and diffuse it.
- Every type of assault has a striking distance. A point of impact where maximum damage occurs. Moving inside or outside of the striking distance diminishes the impact of the strike. This is what allows you to evade and redirect the attack.
The result is an effective defense, and an offense that is in control of the situation, that directs the outcome without damaging your opponent severely. This is what makes Aikido a perfect framework for creating a win-win outcome out of a potentially harmful engagement.
The Negotiation Tactics
The table illustrates the tactics. The striking distance is a list of common negotiating tactics. They’re crude street-fighting tactics used in business and if you’re not prepared, they can be very effective.
The Aikido negotiation tactics give you two options against each type of strike. You can move inside the point of impact or outside it. Which you choose depends on the situation, but most people tend to move outside because it’s easier. Moving inside can sometimes be much more effective. You have to be able to do both.
|Move Inside||Striking Distance||Move Outside|
|(Common negotiating tactics)|
|Brainstorm solutions||Circumstance, theory or fact||Detail the facts|
|Explore other options with them||Go with the competition||Explore your options|
|Separate the options||Looking for small concessions||Note the extras included|
|Note the extras included||Package deal required||Separate the options|
|Stress thoroughness||Delaying||Set deadlines|
|Set deadlines||Urgency||Stress thoroughness|
|Ask for confirmation||Bluffing||Track down confirmation|
|Tip balance in their favor||Standoff or impasse||Tip balance in your favor|
|Agree on difficulties||Walking out||Disagree on difficulties|
|High regard for their authority||Limited Authority||Get authorizations|
|Have compassion||Emotional plea||Remain professional|
The Aikido Negotiation tactics can be used offensively as well as defensively. In both cases, you’re taking control of the situation and directing it. To be a true master of negotiation, you have to practice these techniques until they become instinct, just as you would any martial art.
Use the table. Train. Stage mock negotiation sessions and practice the techniques. Once they become automatic, you’ll not just be a formidable negotiator, but one capable of creating the kinds of amazing deals that everyone talks about.