Contrary to the opinion of at least one leading Presidential candidate, nice negotiators come out ahead by creating win-win deals that help build lasting relationships, said Ron Shapiro, the luncheon speaker at ULI Washington’s Real Estate Trends Conference. Now an author, speaker, and advisor, Shapiro has racked up a lifetime of experience as a top sports agent, lawyer, and businessman.
With abundant enthusiasm that overcame the audience’s postprandial torpor, Shapiro said that negotiation is not – or should not be – about battle, conflict, and confrontation. “You need to take ego out of your approach,” he said. “It’s about negotiation, not egotiation.” And you have to be a good listener, searching for points of agreement, and understanding your alternatives.
“Win-win does not mean wimp-wimp,” he went on. “Use tools that empower you so to be nice, do good deals, and build good relationships.” Those tools, he said, can be summarized by three words beginning with the letter P: prepare, probe, and propose.
Preparation means doing a lot of research in advance and coming to a negotiation with a checklist, covering such items as:
- Comparable deals
- The other party’s patterns of conducts
- The wants and needs of the other side – probe for undisclosed interests
- Alternatives: What is your highest goal? What is your walk-away point? What are other options to consider if the deal does not work out.
- Strategy to achieve your objectives, including a timeline and next steps
- Scripts covering the messages and proposals you want to make
During the negotiation, you should probe. “Stop, question, and listen,” he said. “What is important to the other side? Why is it important? Answer questions with questions. Hypothesize. Ask them to tell you more. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, nature has given men one tongue but two ears that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”
Listening isn’t always easy, Shapiro noted. “People can tell when you are not listening,” he said. “Indicators include poor eye contact, distractions, interruptions, irrelevant responses, and poor body language.”
The final “P” in Shapiro’s strategy is “propose.” “Try not to make the first offer, and don’t accept their first offer immediately,” he advised. “When making offers, set high goals, as long as they are within reason.” Then he quoted the old English proverb: “Much is lost for the want of asking.”
“You don’t have to assert power as an aggressive antagonist, and you don’t have to be reactive or defensive,” Shapiro concluded. “Remember that negotiation is a process, not an event, and empower yourself to do win-win deals.”
Ron Shapiro, Co-Founder and Chairman, Shapiro Negotiations Institute
Recap Written by Leslie Braunstein
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