We have all faced this situation at some point: you need to prepare for a negotiation, and you do not rightly know how. Luckily, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself in this situation. One of the tools you can use is making a strategic analysis of all the people and parties involved in a negotiation (including yourself). Having the right information after all, is key for being adequately prepared.
The first part of the analysis is pinning down is the likely objective of the parties involved in a negotiation. What do you think the goals are they are trying to achieve? An example of this could be being confronted with a status quo-oriented party that wants things to remain exactly as they are.
Having determined the goal of the negotiation a logical follow-up step is to then start looking at the assets that a given party can bring to the table. What is it that they have to offer, and what might help them in pushing for their goals? If we continue our example from the previous paragraph, our status quo-oriented negotiator might have an almost dazzling command of the facts and can positively drown you and everyone else in them to try to stall the negotiations.
Of course, no-one only has assets. There can also be limiting factors that can prevent you from achieving your goals: constraints. It is well imaginable that our status quo partner might have poor relations with the other parties in a negotiation and is not particularly well-liked.
No analysis of a negotiation can be complete without figuring out what the stakes for the parties involved are. What can a party gain from a negotiation, or conversely, what do they stand to lose if things fall apart. Drawing upon our example again, the status quo negotiation might be confronted with a substantially increased workload should the negotiation not go their way.
Now that we have made an analysis of all the elements involved in the strategic analysis, we should be able to extrapolate an effective strategy from these elements. If we do a similar analysis for ourselves and all the other parties involved in a negotiation we should be able to have a both a solid idea of the strategy we will be using, and have a good idea of what to expect from our fellow negotiators. Good luck!
Who is Neil?
Neil Urquhart is a veteran communication skills trainer, coach and facilitator with 20+ years international experience on four continents in Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Egypt, Sweden, Spain and the UK. He delivers the Day-to-day Negotiation at the European School of Administration, as well as Analysing and Solving Problems in Times of Crisis for the European Institutions, agencies and bodies.