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1. Don’t Negotiate Unprepared
Negotiation is a strategic activity where preparation and knowledge are key to success. One should never attempt to negotiate unprepared since you will be playing to the tune of your counterpart. Don’t yield to pressure when asked for a decision. Be firm and ask for time to consider your alternatives.
If you haved watched the movie, you can clearly see that Team Cap was unprepared to negotiate. Team Iron Man walked in with a take it or leave it proposal. Instead of asking for time to negotiate, Team Cap merely accepts the two conditions proposed as the only alternatives.
This scenario happens in real life. Someone tells you you have no other choice but to accept their proposal. Usually, when you have not done your research or planned your influencing and negotiating strategy, you’ll be swayed by your counterpart. In the simple day to day case of haggling, if you do not know the market rate, then it will be difficult to gauge the price points to haggle within.
But what do you do when your counterpart uses time pressure to push you to make a decision?
Read on the next steps:
2. Identify Common or Interdependent Objectives
If someone doesn’t want to negotiate with you, or they want you to negotiate unprepared, you need to establish the benefit of you understanding the situation more in the negotiation process. Most of the time, the fact that they approached you means you have something to contribute to their objective. So you have to learn to identify how you can contribute to their objective. In addition, there are cases that what both parties want are the same, however, they differ on the process of achieving the common goal.
Take the case of the negotiation between Team Cap and Team Iron man. When Tony Stark came with the government representative demanding that the Avengers subject their activities to regulation, which included getting approval before deployment to missions, there was tension in the room. Tony Stark was concerned about the casualties that may result from their mission, Captain Rogers was concerned about the safety of the individuals should actions be delayed due to bureaucracy. When phrased this way, their common and/or interdependent objectives are hard to see.
So what’s their common objective? What’s your guess?
I would say that their objectives are to 1) embark on missions to thwart terrorist plans and 2) to ensure civilian safety during their operations.
If one examines these two objectives, both parties would agree that they would not want to treat this independently. These are interdependent objectives. The Avengers need the support of the International bodies, and the International bodies needed the strength of the Avengers. The pitfall was that Tony Stark focused on objective 2, but Steve Rogers focused on objective 1. No effort was made to establish that both objectives are non-exclusive and they have to be addressed together. If Team Cap leveraged on the fact that their strength enables both objectives, they may have been open the issue to negotiation.
So if someone insists that you make a decision, establish a common ground first, in this case, establish common objectives. Once you have established that you can work as a team, you can request for more time to think through things.
3. Work Towards Addressing the Interests
Positions are what the other party wants to be done, interests answer why. Usually, the positions proposed are positions the other party believes could meet his interests. Working on positions only makes it difficult for parties to come up with a mutually satisfying solution. By addressing interests, you can come up with other alternative positions which may be more acceptable to the other party.
In most negotiations, there are many interests that come into play, including emotional interests. However, in the case of Captain America: Civil War movie, let’s state that the interest is this:
No civilians will end up being casualties of any anti-terror operations.
The International Body in the movie believes that the way to meet that is to makes sure that the Avengers do not carry out any operations without approval. They were not to operate independently. This was the position put forth.
So where might Team Cap have gone from here? They could have proposed alternative positions to Team Iron Man. Team Iron Man believes that regulating operations of the Avengers may minimize casualties, Team Cap is concerned that casualties may be increased if their operations are delayed because of waiting for approvals. Once they focus on this interest, they could have objectively assessed the pros and cons of the proposed position. They could have been more open to discussion having established common interest.
4. Be Creative in Exploring Alternatives
Focusing on meeting the interests lead to creation of alternatives. The availability of options is something our generation is proud of. With our advanced technologies and interconnectivity, the alternative solutions abound, we just need to be creative and willing to look for it. This is equally true for negotiations.
Having established the interests of both parties, it may have been good if both teams sat down and listed the alternatives. Team Cap could have suggested that they could act independently in cases of emergency. Or to ensure evacuation is done before any operation is started. I’m sure you can also think of alternatives. Although if the alternatives were explored, we probably would not have enjoyed a movie.
Or maybe they could ask Thor to host the civilians while the Avengers battle it out.
What other alternatives can you think of? Leave your comments below.
5. Convince Them That Collaboration is Better
There are five negotiation strategies, collaboration is one of them – that is a win-win negotiation. Although win-win may be time-consuming, it proves to be the most advantageous in most cases. Collaborative solutions predispose both parties to work not just for the current project but for future projects as well as it preserves relationships. It also increases the likelihood that both parties resources are efficiently used. It also works on the concept of increasing the pie.
Looking back at the movie, if Civil War did not take place, the War Machine would not have been injured. And while I’m pretty sure Tony Stark has enough money to create another airport, that’s still a lot of resources wasted on some fight. Half of the Avengers also would not have had to be imprisoned. If Rogers played the collaboration card, it may have been a fruitful discussion.
But what if there is an urgent situation that needs to be taken care of?
Now, I agree that time was also critical in the movie. Negotiating parties could agree that they operate in status quo while the negotiations are taking place. This would have allowed the Avengers to attend to Barnes’ case while the negotiations are still on-going.
There are ways how the Civil War could have been avoided. Then again, we will not have a movie to talk about if that had happened. I still think it’s a good movie to learn a few negotiation basics. If only they spent money learning negotiations in a workshop.
If you are keen to watch another movie that shows good negotiation skills, I recommend Erin Brockovich.
Negotiation is one of the key skills everyone needs to learn. The reason for negotiation is simple. Each party wants something the other party has in order to help accomplish their interest. Each party aims to be in a better position after the negotiation process. Successful negotiation ensures both party leave the negotiation table satisfied. This ultimately leads to preservation of relationships.
While some seem to have the talent for negotiation, negotiation involves skills and mindsets that can be obtained. It is something that can be learned, and you can be an expert in if you practice.
If you want to learn more about negotiation, I recommend the following books:
If a picture paints a thousand words, videos and films show millions. Go grab that soda and bag of chips. Let's talk about these films. After all, a good film deserves a good discussion.