Negotiating Tip #64:
Internal Negotiations 101
This series of tips about internal negotiations is based on material in the Harvard Business Review Press book Creative Conflict: A Practical Guide for Business Negotiators by Bill Sanders and Frank Mobus.
It might seem reasonable to assume that internal negotiations are less stressful than external ones. After all, you’re on the same team, pulling on the same rope. In reality, internal negotiations can be the most difficult of all. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you’ll be obliged to sell your strategies to cross functional team members and a gauntlet of other business units.
But in fact internal negotiations are often the toughest ones you will face. The closer the two parties, the tougher the negotiation—especially when they have a checkered history. The past distorts the present and shadows the future. A single negative experience—no matter how ancient—can incline an internal partner to derail you next time around.
With all internal interactions, keep in mind one constant: Relationships are primary. The people you’re dealing with this week are likely to be there next month and next year. It’s rarely in your interest to make internal enemies. Any short-lived rewards won’t be worth the risk.
With that in mind, we will set out in the next few tips what are the basic problems in internal negotiations and what steps you can take to turn those negotiations into a source of strength rather than a problem.