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December 2016 – Collaboration and the Art of Negotiation—Part Two

Last month we met George and his dilemma at Global Works, where his colleagues were happily entrenched in a world of silos.  “Turfism” frustrated him to no end, and worse yet, hampered his assignment and responsibility for fundraising.  While trying to change the prevailing mentality, George had outlined some benefits for collaboration, along with some possible steps that an organization could take to accomplish that goal.  That, however, was the easy part.  He knew that if any change would take place, negotiation would play a significant role.  So he began to research what negotiation really meant.  Happily, he found just the right source in Forbes.  He read:

If you’re in the middle of negotiations, “non-starter,” “take it or leave it” or “not at that price” shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary.

Most universities don’t offer Negotiation 101, and few parents teach their children the nuts and bolts. It’s a learned technique, and picking up the basics isn’t hard. Whether you’re a veteran sales rep for Pfizer or a Merrill Lynch trader, you can always sharpen your skills no matter extensive your experience.1

That seemed encouraging.  He read on.  The first piece of advice was to listen!  How elementary, George thought.  Then he wondered just how much he had listened to his colleagues for whom the silo-mentality was as comfortable and natural as breathing.  He remembered his own advice–to understand why others might not want to collaborate.  Perhaps he ought to ask fewer questions, complain less about “turfism,” and listen to not only what colleagues were saying but to listen and listen again, particularly paying attention to what was implied as much as what was said.  OK, point number one noted mentally.

The article went on, listing three basic points to consider before even beginning to negotiate.

  • At the outset, everything is on the table.
  • Unless you’re in the military and can give orders to subordinates, there will be give and take.
  • The purpose of negotiation is to cut a deal–not to smash your opponent to bits.

Defining the issue, the article stated, and gathering the information was essential to getting started.  George thought he knew what the issue was, as well as all relevant effects and side-effects, but perhaps he hadn’t really listened   The author wrote, If possible, get relevant information from the other side. Organize it logically so you can refer to key points during the discussions as needed.

Well, what were the real issues?  Lack of office supplies, no matter how frustrating,  wasn’t as relevant as lack of information flow.  How could he bring people to the table and encourage a sharing of information that was so vital to his getting his own job done?  He read on.  Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your position. Think how you can use your strengths to increase your gains.

So, what did he really bring to the organization?  How could he help others at Global Works see the strengths and progress he perhaps represented?  At this point George began to make a list on paper, remembering what he had just read, and adding on as he continued through the article.

  • Listen.
  • Define the central issue(s) but don’t ignore other side issues which may be equally critical for skillful negotiation.
  • Be cooperative but stay alert. Try to anticipate what the other side will say and do.
  • Be clear on what you want, but outline what you will give up and the price of this concession.
  • Remember that there’s always a way around a problem no matter how big it may seem at the time.
  • Make it possible for both yourself and the other party to concede gracefully.  Remember that both sides leave with something in hand after a good negotiation.

George sat back and reflected.  How did all this apply to the basics of fundraising?  He reviewed his list and applied it to his fundraising plans.

  • Talk to colleagues once again, this time focusing on their goals for accomplishment, and defining how fundraising fit.
  • Identify reasons for the silo mentality, then come up with a minimal list of why collaboration would help achieve the goals in stated above.
  • When stating what you want, show how it helps all in the organization.  Your colleagues won’t much care how you get your job done, but they probably will pay attention to reasonable and credible statements about results.
  • Acknowledge you won’t achieve everything in the first negotiation, but that you can have minimal win-win steps over time.

George tried his approach.  At first suspicion reigned.  Then reluctance.  But when George found a funder for a shared-interest cause, and showed how most divisions brought strengths to the project, the first step was accomplished.

Six months later, George had an office fully stocked with the necessary supplies, the good will of many colleagues, and one funded project that required half of the senior personnel to work together in order to reach the goal.  Perhaps, he reflected, he should be the one to write a curriculum for at least a one-day workshop if not an academic course which he would name, Negotiation 101!

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