Tag Archives: how to negotiate

Five Best Negotiation Scenes In Film And TV

How much can you learn about negotiation by sitting on the couch watching movies? Plenty.

Want to become a better negotiator? You could diligently read up on the subject or attend some negotiation training courses, but for the couch potatoes amongst us, you might just learn more by watching some of your favourite films.

Negotiation scenes come in many varieties in film. Often they’re in the form of a hard sell (think Leonardo DiCaprio selling dodgy stocks in The Wolf of Wall Street), or a hostage situation (Tom Hanks negotiating for his freedom in Captain Phillips) or other life-threatening situations such as Mel Gibson trying to talk a suicidal man down from a ledge in Lethal Weapon.

But when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of haggling, the following five scenes give illuminating examples of how to win – or lose – in a high-stakes negotiation.

 

  1. Sticking to your final offer – Nightcrawler (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal’s character Lou is trying to sell a video of a crime scene to Nina, a TV news manager. Watch for:

  • Lou being willing to haggle down to a certain level, after which he refuses to budge.
  • The power shift in the negotiation from Nina to Lou (aided in part by Lou’s creepy intensity).
  • Lou throwing in a number of extra conditions when he knows he has Nina beaten.
  • Best line: “When I say that a particular number is my lowest price, that’s my lowest price, and you can be assured that I arrived at whatever that number is very carefully.”

 

  1. Doing your homework before a negotiation: True Grit (2010)

In this Coen Brothers film, 14-year-old Mattie Ross (played by Hailee Steinfeld) shows what horse-trading is all about – literally. In order to raise money to hire a Deputy U.S. Marshal to help her track down her father’s killer, she approaches an auctioneer named Stonehill with two demands – that he buys back the ponies he sold he father, and that he pays her $300 for a horse stolen from his stable. At first, Stonehill laughs in dismissal, but Ross’s perseverance and detailed knowledge of the relevant law wears him down until he yields to her demands – plus a little bit more. Watch for:

  • The moment Stonehill mentions the valuation of the horse and hence kicks off the haggling process.
  • Mattie’s threatening to walk out on the negotiation and go to the law, causing Stonehill to adjust his offer in panic.
  • Best line: “I do not entertain hypotheticals – the world as it is is vexing enough.”

 

  1. Negotiating across cultures – Snatch (2000)

Warning: strong language.

When boxing promoter “Turkish” and his partner Tommy approach Irish Traveller “One Punch” Mickey O’Neil to ask him to participate in a fight, the prospect seems simple enough. The only problem is, Mickey (played by Brad Pitt) has an almost unintelligible accent. His price is the purchase of a fancy caravan “for me Ma”, and then proceeds to list off all the features he wants included in the deal … while Turkish and Tommy can’t understand a thing. Watch for:

  • Mickey’s impossible-to-understand list of caravan features. The video clip below includes subtitles, but cinema audiences had no such assistance when this film was released.
  • The bewilderment on Turkish and Tommy’s faces as they realise they don’t know what they’ve actually agreed to. The cultural barrier between the Irish Travellers and the other characters in the film is a running theme that goes far beyond the tricky accent.
  • Best line: “Did you understand a single word of what he just said?”

 

  1. Coercion – Ocean’s 11 (2001)

“Frank”, played by the late Bernie Mac, has been tasked with sourcing the transport needed for the team to undertake the crime of the century. The dealer names his best offer, and Frank appears to accept. So far, everything seems to be going smoothly … until the handshake. Frank extends the grip to a full 60 seconds, apparently crushing the car dealer’s hand while chatting amiably the whole time. The car dealer, desperately uncomfortable and in pain, abruptly drops his price before freeing his hand. Watch for:

  • The range of emotions playing over the car dealer’s face as he realises he can’t free his hand.
  • Frank’s feigned surprise and gratitude when the dealer drops his price.
  • Best line: “If you were willing to pay cash, I’d be willing to drop that down to seven-SIX-teen each.”

 

  1. The power of silence: 30 Rock (TV series 2006-13)

By simply sitting in near-silence and looking stern, grumpy babysitter (Sherri) is able to make Jack Donaghy so nervous that he doubles her pay for working half the time. Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) comes into the negotiation with his usual swagger, but Sherri’s silence causes him to blabber and rapidly cave. Appalled at his own performance, he confronts Sherri a second time. Watch for:

  • Sherri’s tactical silence when Jack pauses to let her speak.
  • Jack rolling his eyes when he realises how badly he came out of the negotiation.
  • Best line: “I made every mistake you can in a negotiation. I spoke first, I smiled … I negotiated with myself!”

Want to suggest some other films or TV shows with great negotiation scenes? Leave a comment below!

Keep It Cool: Four Tips For Top Negotiators

If there’s no exchange, there is no negotiation. Great negotiators know that a willingness to compromise is often the only way to avoid a stalemate.

Negotiation is increasingly prevalent in our daily lives and is a necessary part of a wide range of professions. Given the nature of the globalized and fast-paced world in which we live, negotiating has become ubiquitous in every corporate role.

Due to the step-up in challenging objectives within organizations that wish to remain competitive, fast and sound decision-making, as well as conflict resolution through negotiation, have become more important than ever.

Tips for top negotiators

Do your homework

In order to ensure a successful agreement, the negotiator must possess in-depth knowledge of whatever is being negotiated. Moreover, they must study and understand the nature of the supplier (or client) they’re negotiating with, and have a firm grasp of key dates, financial targets and any negotiation restrictions.

The other person isn’t your enemy

Importantly, you should not see the person across the table as an adversary, but as another “player” who’s trying to solve a similar problem. A negotiation is not a competition where one wins and the other loses. Always seek a beneficial agreement where both parts secure a satisfactory degree of success, particularly if you want to have a healthy, ongoing relationship. Remember, negotiating is basically exchanging. If there’s no exchange, there is no negotiation. When one party makes a concession, the other will be expected to do so as well.

Be flexible

Flexibility is paramount in order to solve eventual stalemates, and it’s important that the professional in charge of negotiations knows for sure what they’re willing to give up. A refusal to shift can lead to a failure to reach an agreement, which won’t solve anything.

Be confident

If you can demonstrate that you’re 100% confident and knowledgeable about all aspects of the negotiation, the other party will tend to be more careful while making observations, raising objections and even proposing financial targets. Misunderstandings and ambiguities can negatively affect their credibility in the negotiation.

Ask questions

Think about what you need to ask the other party, how to ask for this information, and how you’re going to apply this information to benefit your cause. 

Four ways to gain an advantage in negotiations

  1. Always take the initiative

Commonly, the one who controls negotiations from the beginning tends to control the outcome. If you let the other party begin the negotiation, you may end up relinquishing control without realizing you’re doing so.

  1.  Formalise negotiations in writing

Many negotiators make the mistake of discussing the terms and conditions of an agreement or contract without committing themselves to a written document. Make sure you want away with a formal written agreement, recording all terms in detail.

  1. Keep it cool

Regardless of stress, agendas, egos, emotions or priorities, it’s important to remain calm and stay in control. Great negotiators know how to keep a level head and find solutions to sudden obstacles.

  1. Stay on your turf

Use the “home team advantage” by scheduling strategic negotiations at your company. Being on your own turf can give you an advantage as people are generally more at ease on familiar ground.

At the end of a successful negotiation, all participants should have a feeling of accomplishment (or at least that they’ve managed to break even). This will only occur if the negotiation has taken place in a transactional manner, that is, with compromises and achievements.

9 Tips For Negotiating A Pay Increase

The end of the financial year is approaching, which means many companies are preparing for performance reviews. Is this a good time to ask for a pay rise? 

If you’ve been thinking about asking management for a pay rise, you’re probably not alone. The end of the financial year provides the ideal forum to talk about your achievements and can also be an opportune time to raise the issue of a pay rise. However, your performance is only one of the considerations influencing a pay rise. The economy, your employer’s financial performance and what your department has contributed to the organisation’s bottom line will also all play a part in the decision-making.

According to a survey by Salary.com, more companies are planning for larger salary budgets in 2017 than smaller ones. In fact, more than twice as many survey respondents on average are planning to offer larger increases in 2017 than 2016. So you could be in with a shot.

However, bringing up the topic isn’t something most people are comfortable with. To help you prepare, consider these things.

  1. Verbalise your worth

Some people assume their manager is already aware of their achievements, so they shouldn’t really need to ask for a pay rise. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

Your boss will be looking to award a pay increase to staff who can demonstrate that they have gone above and beyond. So, in your meeting, give clear examples to demonstrate how you’ve delivered beyond what is expected of you. Structure this just like a CV and focus on actual outputs and achievements, rather than general statements about how hard you work.

This could include times when you’ve taken initiative or financially or tangibly contributed to the business. Be sure to also give details about any additional tasks or responsibilities you’ve taken on. Having a written pitch supporting your assertion for a pay rise could also help the negotiation.

  1. Demonstrate your value

Take the time to research what similar roles to yours pay in other companies, which can help you set realistic expectations of yourself and your employer. Take some time to look through online jobs platforms, the newspaper and perhaps even recruitment companies in your field might have some related pay information they could share.

Generally, if you’re asking for a higher salary, you’re not in a position of power. In face-to-face negotiations, research finds that the more powerful person will usually win out. So, if you’re negotiating with your boss, you might like to at least start the negotiations over email or phone before sitting down and discussing it together. 

  1. Don’t give an ultimatum

You might have kicked some goals for your company and feel confident about your place in the food chain, but giving them an ultimatum might get you want in the short term, but it could also damage your relationship or career in the long term. A good negotiation tool can be to find out your replacement cost to the company, particularly if you’re working on projects with tangible deliverables, and mention this during the meeting.

  1. Watch your body language

Pay attention to what your body language says during the meeting. Stay relaxed, speak slowly and have open body language during the meeting (no crossed arms). Avoid getting defensive and be confident and convincing by coming to the meeting prepared.

  1. Be a learner

Demonstrating your ability to learn will demonstrate dedication. Whether you attend courses to improve your skills a few times a year or develop a lifelong habit of daily learning or micro-learning (such as reading about a new topic related to your job description on the commute to work or in your lunch break), this is something that management will look upon favourably.

  1. Don’t name your price

Don’t be the first person to say how much you’re expecting in a pay rise. For all you know, your boss could be thinking of a figure far higher than you’re predicting, so let them speak first. If your efforts to ask them to name a number isn’t working, give a narrow range that you’d be happy with. 

  1. Be realistic about timeframes

Don’t raise the possibility of a pay rise and expect it to be introduced the following week. While your company should have money in the budget to financially reward key staff, it’s rare that a pay rise will be approved and implemented immediately.

  1. Make sure you listen

Choosing the right phrases and making sure you say enough but not too much is paramount. Making sure you’re not suggesting that you’re underpaid and that there’s no aggression in your meeting is vital. Once you’ve presented your thoughts, make sure you let your manager respond, and listen with an open mind. If your manager decides not to increase your salary, ask for feedback and for ways you can improve your performance over the next year. 

  1. Discuss more than just pay 

If you’ve been turned for financial remuneration for your hard work, consider alternatives to an increase, such as asking for more workplace flexibility or additional training. Have this idea ready so that if your initial request is rejected, you can ask for an alternative.

The best way to negotiate

Welcome to the third article in a monthly series from John Viner-Smith.

How to negotiate effectively

If you’re a student of negotiation (and, as a procurement professional, how could you not be a student of negotiation?) then you should have a well-thumbed copy of Richard Fisher and Bill Ury’s “Getting to Yes” within easy reach on your bookshelf. Fisher and Ury literally wrote the book on what is termed “principled” or “interest-based” negotiation (often simplified to “win-win” negotiation). When asked “what’s the best way to negotiate?” most academics will point you to this approach.

How to negotiate - getting to yes

There are five central guiding principles to this approach.

  1. Separate the people from the problem. In other words, seek to decide issues on their merits rather than the emotions, fears and egos of the negotiators
  2. Focus on interests, not positions. Fisher and Ury assume that almost all disputes can be resolved with principled negotiation because, when you cut through the positions adopted by negotiators to their actual interests, they are often more easily reconciled
  3. Invent options for mutual gain. By working creatively and collaboratively around the interests, negotiators can achieve outcomes that deliver gains to both sides.
  4. Insist on objective criteria for decisions. The classic examples quoted here are the purchase or sale of something like a house or a car, where there will be plentiful benchmark data available pointing to the “fair” price for the item being traded or an independent appraisal can be carried out.
  5. Know your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). Your BATNA is the best outcome you can achieve if you don’t do this deal. If the proposal on the table is as good as or better than your BATNA, the deal is worth doing. If it isn’t, it’s not.

There are definite advantages inherent to this approach. If you genuinely have scope to negotiate this way you can engineer “all gain” deals which add value to both sides. In some cases, correct and thorough preparation on both sides and conscientious commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of curiosity, creativity and collaboration can result in deals which represent increased value to both sides and are the foundation of strategic partnership in business.

In a previous Procurious article I wrote that “win-win” is a myth, so you may be wondering how I reconcile that view with the idea of engineered, all-gain deals. “Win-win” is a term that is bandied about so much it has lost all meaning. All too frequently it’s used by one side or the other when they’re winning something, but haven’t given any real thought to what the outcome does for the other side. Engineered, All-Gain deals are only possible when both sides are genuinely curious enough to understand the other side’s underlying interests and candidly share their own. Sharing that information makes both sides vulnerable to the other, so an environment of trust and authentic commitment to the long term is vital. Business relationships like that are like marriages, and it is no more appropriate to talk about who won what in such a relationship than it is to call a winner in a marriage.

So is interest-based negotiation the best way to negotiate? My answer would be “sometimes”.

Let’s start by looking at this idea of calling interest based negotiation “principled”. Does that imply that all other kinds of negotiation are unprincipled? That’s a dangerous value judgement to make! Let’s use an example to explore this question. “Joe” is buying a house.

  • Joe’s budget is £500,000
  • The asking price for the house is £510,000
  • The vendor (unbeknownst to Joe, of course) needs £455,000 from the sale
  • The identical house next door sold last week for £489,000

Getting to yes-style, “principled” negotiation theory dictates that Joe should work with the vendor to find the deal that best suits both their interests and is fair to both, possibly taking market benchmarks into account. Under these conditions, you might consider that a settlement around £490k is fair and principled.

Instead of doing that deal, Joe uses an array of questioning skills, market knowledge and tactics to establish that the vendor could do the deal at £455k and wants money fast.  Joe then uses that information to apply pressure on the vendor to close the deal for £460k, thirty thousand pounds less than the “objective”, “fair”, benchmark price. Recognising that he’s never going to see the vendor again and therefore there is no value in a warm or trusting relationship, Joe uses every available lever to push the vendor down to a price that is closer to their walk-away point than the middle of the range.

Joe’s negotiating methodology is the antithesis of Fisher and Ury’s approach. He deliberately makes the person the focus by using the pressures on the vendor to create leverage. He focuses that leverage entirely on meeting his own interests to the greatest degree at the expense of the vendors’  and makes no attempt to come up with options for mutual gain. He ignores the objective criteria, focusing instead on the subjective pressures in the vendor’s head. Finally he closes a deal, keeping the lion’s share of the value in the deal for himself. So does that make Joe unprincipled?

If you’re tempted to say “yes”, ask yourself why. Certainly Joe is unlikely to enjoy a warm relationship with the vendor after the deal but why should that matter? He’s never going to see the vendor again. So if you did answer “yes”, is it possible that you just don’t like Joe? Maybe he seems greedy. Maybe you have some sympathy for the vendor. Viewed in isolation, Joe’s approach might seem aggressive and selfish. But let’s say Joe has a family, ask yourself this; who has more right to Joe’s £30,000; the vendor or Joe’s kids? They can’t both have it. Viewed that way, you might conclude that by pushing the vendor to accept the lowest possible price and saving himself enough money to put one of his kids through University without debt, Joe’s actions are entirely principled.

Life (personal and business life) is complex. We all balance complicated and often conflicting principles and duties and it is tempting, in the stress of negotiation, to lose sight of who’s interests you are there to serve. As a matter of principle you owe yourself the best deal possible. You owe your stakeholders the best deal possible. You owe your counterparty only what the circumstances of the deal at hand dictate that they are due, at the lowest possible cost to yourself.

Saying “It’s always best to adopt an interest-based approach to negotiations…” is correct in academic terms, but in the real world you have to qualify that by adding “…when you can”. As a negotiator you have other options available to you and they will be valid some of the time. In selecting which approach you adopt, I offer you a single guiding principle that works for me;

“Adopt the approach that will deliver the greatest benefit to yourself and the interests you represent”.

If circumstances allow an interest-based approach, this one principle will guide you to that approach. If not, this principle will help to focus you on doing what is necessary.