Negotiating Tip #72:
Even Bargaining Benefits from Creativity
Bargaining is the oldest form of negotiating. It is the kind of negotiating where most deals start and many of them end. It’s no place for the faint of heart. Since we’re splitting a fixed and predetermined pot, my gain is your loss and your gain is my cost. Both sides are asking themselves, How can I get what I want while giving up as little as possible? That’s a sure recipe for conflict. And since conflict is threatening, people tend to skew to one of two poles: passive acceptance or hostile intimidation. Neither leads to satisfying outcomes.
The elusive sweet spot lies somewhere in between. Whether it’s simple haggling (a.k.a. price pushing) or a more complex deal, creative bargainers take a tough but balanced stance. They stand by their convictions without needlessly insulting the other party. They work to gauge the other side’s flexibility and to clarify their own requirements. Even when a broader deal doesn’t seem to be in the cards, the most rudimentary one-time haggles contain a creative element. There’s a craft to enhancing the perceived value of your offer. It takes finesse to probe what you might get in exchange, and whether it’s what you really need.
Mobus Creative Negotiating shows how negotiators can begin with bargaining and then build from there. In the modern world, most negotiations have room to add creative elements to a deal, going beyond simply haggling about price. So at the same time that we show you how to haggle about the price, we at Mobus Creative Negotiating teach you how to think about broadening the deal.
(This tip comes from our book Creative Conflict: A Practical Guide for Business Negotiators, available from Harvard Business Review Press).