Recently I gave a keynote for the HSM Forum on Negotiation in Sao Paulo, Brasil. This is perhaps the largest conference on negotiation in the world at the moment with over 1000 attendees, and it was held in the Teatro Alfa, which is a beautiful facility constructed in 1998. Founded in Brazil, HSM is a leader in executive education and business management knowledge. They put on a great program and I was humbled to go on after Bill Ury, Robert Mnookin, and Robert Cialdini had spoken, and before sports marketing giant Donald Dell.
My 90-minute talk – “The Company Negotiator: How to Embed Negotiating Capacity in the Culture of Your Organization” – focused on some of the key points from the book Built to Win and on what we’ve learned since the book was written.
The next day I did a talk in Belo Horizante for leaders from the Algar, a family business and holding company. I did interviews during my trip with different media outlets and journalists. One question that came up more than once was: how can businesses use a Mutual Gains Approach to negotiation in environments where they have very little leverage or where the other party has no intention of being cooperative.
Here I more or less echo the advice of my colleague Larry Susskind: focus on improving your BATNA over the long term, and meeting their interests well (and your own) in the short term. This means probing carefully for information about interests and priorities, sometimes by floating multiple packages without committing, so that you draw your counterpart’s attention to new benefits that you can bring to them, or risks that you can help them to avoid. It also helps to understand the stakeholder map on the other side of the table; sometimes you can engage someone more constructive and skilled than the person who has been sent to deal with you.
I’ll post more extensively in the future about inducing cooperation in competitive environments (it’s one of my favorite subjects!) but as a psychologist I will say this for now: people are hard to change. Rather than trying to change the other person’s behavior, by appealing to principle, try to broaden their focus