Negotiating is a process where you explore your interests to see if they can best be met by agreement with the other party or through some other means. Should the offer from the other party not meet your interests then you should walk away. In the case where you exercise your walk-away options then it is still a good negotiation as your interests are still being served (this is your BATNA or Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement).
The process of negotiation involves a series of phases whereby the negotiator broadly seeks to understand the playing field, his/her own objectives, the objectives of the opposing side(s), and barriers to reaching agreement. The pursuit of these objectives may require several different negotiation approaches at different stages of the negotiation ranging from competitive (positional) bargaining to cooperative (interest-based) bargaining. Specifically, you should be trying to understand holistically what is of interest – to both sides – not just from the perspective of big or small issues.
There should be a clear formulation of negotiating strategy and an understanding of the need to reach agreement on key interests in order to move negotiation approaches from either a power or rights-based approach to one where an understanding of interests could be attained and creative solutions derived to the benefit of all parties concerned. The use of empathy is a determinant of this stage and will provide each side with the ability to “walk a mile in the other man’s shoes” and in turn see their perspective in terms of the opposing party’s position, interests and constraints in a non-judgemental manner. By communicating this understanding to the opposing party it will show a genuine interest in their underlying interests and in doing so built trust. Based on a platform of trust each party should then able to participate in value creation.
Remember – This does not mean you sympathise with the other party’s position and forget your own agenda; rather, the use of empathy will help you understand ultimately where the other party’s interests lay and assist you to assert yours.
As J. Paul Getty once said.. “You must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals”.
I hope this helps in your future negotiations.