Besides preparation and understanding true costs, what is the most important key to getting the best deal possible? Besides understanding the underlying drivers and the interests of your counterpart? Besides developing a rapport, and trust? Even more than all of this, the number one driver is intention.
What! That sounds so touchy-feely and makes negotiating sound like a hard skill. Well, that is true, yet time after time my intention will drive everything I do before, during, and after the negotiation.
Let’s look at an example:
I am negotiating a long-term agreement with a new client, and I find myself thinking “I just want to get this over with,” and immediately I know I’m in trouble, because that is my intention. If my intention is to hurry the negotiation along, I am not going to take the time to build a rapport, do my homework, understand the client’s interests, make appropriate trades, walk away with my best possible agreement… You get the idea.
My intention, your intention, drives our negotiation strategies.
So, if your intention is to achieve the best deal possible, that is also satisfying to your counterpart, you will prepare and act accordingly and therefore have a greater shot at walking away with your preferred negotiation outcome.
On the other hand, if you have an intention to win without caring about your counterpart, you will fail to build rapport, and will not walk away with your preferred negotiation outcome. More importantly, you will damage your relationship and future negotiations with this counterpart.
You would sooner win the lottery than achieve a win-win negotiation without that outcome being your intention.
In other words, take the time to really think about the outcome that you desire, and make that your intention. Your intention will affect your behavior through every step of the negotiation process, which will affect your outcome.