We’ve covered some ways that negotiations can backfire on you, but even if you think you’re a good negotiator, there are some signs that others may not share that opinion. Look through this list to see if your skills could use a boost.
1 – People rarely try to negotiate with you. This may seem like a good thing (yay, no compromising!), but it could mean stakeholders think you’re too unyielding. This isn’t what you want, since productive negotiations should be something you want to encourage—they’re often a good way to achieve results that suit everyone, plus they set the stage for a more efficient process next time. Consider initiating conversations that allow people to present their proposals, or outline areas where you have some flexibility to negotiate. This may be all the encouragement stakeholders need to pitch their plan to you.
2 – Negotiations only happen late in the project’s lifecycle. This might be a flag that you’re putting too much effort into avoiding negotiations entirely (and people finally pin you down when they feel they’re out of time). Unfortunately, when you and your stakeholders are under pressure to rush through negotiations to keep a project on track, you’re less likely to take the time to talk through the issues in a truly constructive way. You may want to schedule a meeting early in the process specifically for the purpose of discussing potential negotiation points.
3 – Negotiations never seem to stop. An endless negotiation cycle might point to difficulties developing innovative solutions that meet everyone’s needs, or it could mean you’re having trouble identifying what you have the flexibility to negotiate on and what you don’t. Before you begin any project, be sure you let stakeholders know exactly which points are open to discussion and which are fixed and firm.