Alexander Hamilton lost his life on July 11th, 1804 so that Aaron Burr could get some satisfaction. The famous duel in Weehawken, NJ occurred because of disparaging remarks made by Hamilton at a dinner party. I hope images of one gentleman slapping another gentleman with ladies gloves flashes through your mind. While we’ve moved past the era of challenging someone to a duel at 20 paces the sentiment lives on in many of our behaviors. Most deals are won and lost because of this very idea. Skilled negotiators understand that you have to provide the other side with some satisfaction in order to ink the deal. In the far east, they have a similar concept around the idea of “Face” or “Saving Face”.
Satisfaction unfortunately is intangible and therefore difficult to create and trade. Satisfaction isn’t like price or volume, it encompasses the whole process as well as the individuals involved. It’s closely related to “How” you handle the entire negotiation. Emotional outbursts, heavy-handed tactics, personal challenges, disparaging remarks all destroy satisfaction. Building satisfaction is different for every negotiation and every person. Respect and dignity are common themes when trying to build high levels of satisfaction. Here are two important concepts for establishing satisfaction while negotiating.
Let the other side win!! Negotiation is not a competition, don’t confuse it with a sporting event. Egos not only destroy satisfaction but inevitably end up costing loads of value during a negotiation. It’s not about crushing the other side, it’s about maximizing value. After all, typically you’re not negotiating with your competitors. How you open and move during the negotiation directly impacts the amount of satisfaction you create for the other side. Your Opening needs to be realistic. You also need to provide the other side with subsequent moves to continue to build satisfaction (see Movement for additional details). Winning is an illusion and skilled negotiators don’t allow that illusion to become a distraction.
Trade items of unequal value! Skilled negotiators understand that each party values everything differently. Like a detective you need to identify what’s important to the other side and find ways to trade for what’s important to you. Trade conditionally. Unilateral concessions (or free) devalue the move. The law of scarcity applies to negotiation. People value items that are difficult to obtain (gold, oil, time, etc.). When you offer up concessions without conditions you’re telling the other side your concession isn’t valuable. While the concept of free has an important place in sales and marketing it destroys satisfaction while negotiating. Make sure you trade for something of equal or greater value to you.
Finally, remember satisfaction is all about “How” you interact with the other party throughout the entire process. Oh yea, don’t forget providing satisfaction costs you nothing, while your ego can cost you dearly when negotiating.