Negotiations never come down to price

In courses we frequently get questions along the lines of “What do you do in negotiations where it just comes down to price?”

The answer is that negotiations never come down to price.

Today’s blog is available at INSEAD Knowledge.

“Yeah, but there’s just one problem…”

You make a proposal, you suggest and option or a solution…. And the first thing you hear is “Yeah, but there’s a problem…”

Oh no, not a PROBLEM! How can we possibly overcome a PROBLEM? Everything we’ve hoped for is ruined. We’re doomed!

Ok, I might be exaggerating here 😉 But the fact of the matter is that some of us are predisposed to focusing on the worst possible outcome – we’re on constant lookout for signs that we won’t get what we want. So when the other party raises a problem we instantly take that to confirm our worst fears. We extrapolate that to mean the deal is lost, that we won’t get what we want, and that we should cut our losses and walk away. And upon reflection we’ll get angry with ourselves for being so stupid to hope that anything good could ever happen to us.

In Negotiation Evolved – the book – we emphasise a situational approach, where we encourage you to acquire the skills that are most relevant for you, and most relevant in the current context. We think it is time to evolve past a one-size-fits all approach when it comes to negotiation and influence. And specifically, today’s insight will only be relevant for some of you – but perhaps very relevant.

For those readers who recognise themselves in the scenario above – I have a simple but powerful suggestion. How often in life is there only ONE problem between you and the outcomes you want to achieve? Might just ONE problem actually be good news…? Let’s try it out:

Other party: “Yeah, but there’s just one problem with doing what you propose…”

Negotiator: “That is fantastic news! I can’t tell you how relieved I am that we just have ONE problem. I was mentally prepared to have to work through a dozen, so one problem will be a walk in the park!