Whether buying or selling a car, making a major purchase for your company or even discussing an appropriate bedtime with your kids, everyone likely has some experience negotiating. Some of us “love the game” and others try to avoid the exercise completely. We negotiate constantly, mostly on small things where we may not be aware we are negotiating. Understanding the tools that drive movement in negotiations may even help you gain some leverage in those tests of will with your kids!

In formal negotiations with trained negotiators, we know what needs to be done to have successful negotiations. We need to prepare and plan the negotiation, and know what the aim and objectives are as well as understand the positions of both sides. We need to develop strategies to move the other side and develop questions to better understand their position. We look for leverage, who needs the deal more and who has what leverage. We identify our position by determining an ideal outcome, a realistic outcome and our fallback position, the least we will accept.

If negotiation is a team approach, determining the team members and respective roles is important. We choose the lead negotiator who has the ability to be personable and friendly while being business focused and decisive. Negotiations are about moving people, and tools that drive people to move are emotion, logic, threat, bargain, and compromise. Nothing moves people more than emotion, even without being emotional.

When we are negotiating anything, we need to be respectful of the person, but firm on the position. Respect will help build trust and rapport, which in turn will help people move closer to our position. If you can’t build trust you are likely in for a difficult negotiation, and may not come to the result you desire. Time is the leverage for the party who has more of it, so make it work for you. If the other side knows you have limited time to come to a deal, they will likely do better on the deal. I know from my experience that success is based on honesty, respect, good planning and having a clear position. If it doesn’t work, I am likely negotiating something with my kids again, and they keep defaulting to using emotion.

– Daren Couture, CMIR, CPM, CPIM, CIRM, Manager, Procurement & Asset Recovery, Agrium Daren.Couture@agrium.com