Trust – An Essential Element of Negotation


WWWEV641_RED-675Whether you’re negotiating to resolve some sort of disagreement, to close a business arrangement, or something in between, an essential element of that negotiation is trust. As it applies to negotiations, trust is a level of confidence that the parties involved in the process will bargain in good faith, and live up to the commitments they make.

Creating an Atmosphere of Trust

Some people think that in order to create an atmosphere of trust, they need to give something away in the beginning of the process. Typically when people do this, it’s something fairly insignificant that they are perfectly willing to give up anyway. So they think there’s no harm. But by doing this, they not only give up a potential bargaining chip, they may display a measure of weakness that the other side may try to exploit.

Creating trust is actually a process that begins with a warm, cordial demeanor at the outset and progresses from there.

Increasing Trust

As negotiations progress, negotiators begin to get an even better feel for the other people involved. This is where their initial level of trust can either increase or decrease, depending on how you conduct yourself. If you’re consistent in your approach to the issues raised and the people raising them, trust in you will likely increase. On the other hand, if you’re aggressively shouting one minute and submissively calm the next, people’s trust level in you will diminish.

Of course, some might argue that by constantly changing demeanor you can keep the other parties off guard, thereby strengthening your position. That might work as a short term tactic, but as a long term strategy it will do damage to your reputation that is difficult to repair. Even if you never have to deal with that particular individual again, reputational risk increases through reference checks.

Validating Trust

If you wish to be a successful negotiator long term, you need to create and nurture a reputation that makes others want to negotiate with you. While the way you act during a given negotiation can have an immediate impact on whether people trust you, how you conduct yourself after the final agreement is reached can make or break people’s trust in you. If you deliver on everything you promised, people’s trust in you will be validated, and they’ll be happy to deal with you again. If you renege in any way, people will be less likely to want to deal with you again. It’s as simple as that.

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Negotiation Reminders


4000686689_0c246c5222_oOne of the most important skills in the business world is the ability to conduct successful negotiations.  There is not one simple method that can be used to achieve negotiation success.  To negotiate properly requires experience and an extensive amount of planning.

Spend the Bulk of Your Time Preparing

When heading into a negotiation, it goes without saying that you need to know what your desired goal is but also what you are willing to accept.  Establishing a range of options that would satisfy you helps to create the parameters of a potential deal.  Even more challenging is then trying to anticipate and estimate the parameters of your opponent.  In the same way that you list your targets and reservation prices, you should go through the same exercise and try to understand what your opponent’s target is and his walk away point.

Act with Integrity and Avoid Those Who Don’t (if you can)

It is important to build trust and respect in a negotiation.  By keeping your word, following through on terms you committed to and by thoroughly documenting the negotiation points, you will build trust and preserve your reputation.

Control Your Emotions

When it comes to negotiating, it’s important to control your emotions and not let them control you.  The person who you negotiate with will watch your emotional responses to things they offer.  If you reveal too much and they are a keen observer they may learn more than you would like them to know.

Anticipate Responses

As part of effective negotiations, it is helpful to think about the responses you will receive from your offers.  It is important to prepare a counter point for each anticipated response.  During the negotiation process, your opponent may argue the validity of your points.  Countering with a well-planned response can help to put you in control of the situation.

Know When You have a Deal

When you’ve achieved a good deal, it’s important to know when to agree; however, before wrapping up the negotiation it is wise to try to explore and reveal common ground from which you can both benefit.  For instance, you may be able to add terms by sharing additional information that expands the pie. After all, a smaller share of a bigger pie would likely trump the inverse.