Negotiation is a dialogue intended to produce an agreement
upon courses of action, not only by actively selling
your position but also by focusing on the other side's
interests, needs, priorities, constraints and perspective.
Tip #1: Use Investigative Negotiations
When negotiating on projects, both parties involved default to the discussion of their respective demands or try to state their positions in the clearest ways possible. Dig into your own memories and try to see if you have ever heard the following statements from your clients or managers:
- “This project must be delivered by October 30th of this year”.
- “You are limited to ten resources on this project”.
Project managers are also prone to uttering statements like:
- “We can’t hit this deadline even if we work sixteen hours a day”.
- “If I don’t get the resources I asked for, we are not going to deliver this project”.
The problem with this approach is that we focus on the positions or demands of both parties rather than trying to understand their underlying interests and reasons. We assume that the key to a successful negotiation lies in understanding what the counterpart actually wants. While this is true, it is not the end of the process but rather a beginning. Focusing on what their customers want frequently distracts even the most experienced project managers from why they want it in the first place.
Therefore, questions like "why?" and "why not?" become the project manager's best friends during any negotiation process.