How Effective Leaders Prepare for Negotiation
00:11 Samuel Bacharach: When I was a beginning academic, which was a while ago, they basically talked about bargaining theory. It's strange because the notion of negotiation sort of blossoms much more lately, but when I was in graduate school we talked about bargaining theory. And now we talk about something different, the whole notion of negotiations. But when we talk about negotiations, I think we're talking about an essential leadership skill. The one thing leaders do, day in day out, is they negotiate. Negotiation is not something that's sort of restricted to a labor management crisis, or a Middle-East crisis. Negotiation is something you do all the time. You negotiate all the time. You do it all the time. It is if you want to know something that I call micro-skill. I like to think of negotiation from a small end rather than the big colossal end.
01:06 Bacharach: So it's a thing you do all the time. And the most important aspect of negotiation, is that most of is in your head. It's preparation. It's preparation. Before you get to a metaphorical table -- and I mean table quite metaphorically, it could ... Two people meeting by the water cooler, is also a metaphorical table -- you've got to sort of think where are people coming from, what are the issues, where am I coming from, what's their alternative, what's their relative power. These are things that you really have to think about and you have to be trained to think about it.
01:38 Bacharach: Now, when you speak to people like this they go, "Well, that sounds very political to think about where people are coming... " But, you know what, it's also empathetic. When I'm thinking about your position vis-a-vis my position, what your alternatives are, versus my alternative, I'm being empathetic. In that sense, empathy and thinking ahead is very much part of negotiations. We teach people a lot, but the thing we fail to teach 'em is how to prepare for negotiations, and that's 80%. Before you go into the room, before you stand in front of the audience as a leader, before you go into the meeting of your project team as a project leader, before you go in front of possible funders as an entrepreneur, think of what's gonna happen in there. Negotiations is 80% preparation. It's 80% preparation. The rest is tactical.
SAMUEL B. BACHARACH | Columnist | Director, Cornell's Institute of Workplace Studies
Samuel B. Bacharach is the co-founder of Bacharach Leadership Group (BLG), specializing in leadership development programs with an emphasis on micro-skills: change, execution, negotiation and coaching. He is the McKelvey-Grant professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University's ILR School. His books include Get Them on Your Side and Keep Them on Your Side.