In every negotiation there are three basic types of interests to keep in mind:
These are the goals you hope to achieve in a negotiation. You can define your interests by asking the questions:
- What do I need from this negotiation?
- What do I want to get from the deal?
- Why do I want it?
For example, your obvious interests in a negotiation with a car salesman would be to get the vehicle you want for the lowest price possible; however, on a deeper level, your interests might be to have a safe car for your family or to be able to use your SUV for camping trips.
These are the goals that your counterpart hopes to achieve in this negotiation. You can define their interests by asking the questions:
- What they need from this negotiation?
- What they want from this deal?
- Why do they want it?
For example, a car salesperson’s obvious interest would be to ensure that I buy the car from them at the highest price I am willing to pay; however, on a deeper level, they may also have an interest in impressing their boss or having you refer future clients to them.
These are other people that might be involved in the negotiation or its consequences. You can identify third-party interests by asking:
- How will others be affected by an agreement?
- What will third-parties do in response to an agreement?
- Does an agreement require third-party participation?
In our car sale example, a third-party might be the car dealership itself or the manufacturer of the car, both of which will have different interests than the salesperson. The dealership might want to sell their inventory for a particular car before new ones are released.
Define Interests With Granularity
When defining interests it is important to look granularly at the reasons for a particular motivation.
- Do you want a particular car make and model or do you just want the car to look a certain way?
- Is the salesperson pushing a particular upgrade or model because it is more expensive or because their boss wants to move those cars off the lot?
We can also look at a salary negotiations for examples of underlying interests that can motivate both employees and managers. The most obvious interest of an employee during a salary negotiations is ensuring that their take-home income meets their living expenses and savings/investment preferences; however, employees can also have other interests like flexible scheduling to care for a parent or child or minimizing commute times through remote working opportunities. When thinking about your interests focus on what you really want to achieve from the negotiation.
Managers are primarily focused on their employees getting their job done properly. Oftentimes their own bosses incentivize them to look for the most cost effective way to get things done. Beyond these basic constraints, it is important to remember that managers are also in charge of incentivizing cohesive teamwork and maintaining a positive work environment for their employees. Understanding the constraints and demands placed on your boss is essential for understanding how to achieve your interests without unnecessarily impugning theirs.
In salary negotiations, a third-party with a vested interest in the negotiation could be an outside recruiting agency. Agencies that fill jobs for companies will often receive a portion of the employee’s salary or a commission based on their salary. Some agencies are paid more for getting you to accept a lower salary. Understanding how recruiters get paid is essential to knowing whether or not their interests are aligned with yours.
No matter the size or type of negotiation, it is important to spend time preparing for it. When identifying the interests that are motivating each of the involved parties you want to make sure to answer the following questions:
- My Interests – Why am I here? What do I hope to gain from an agreement?
- Their Interests – Why are they here? What do they hope to gain from this agreement?
- Third-Party Interests – Why would anyone else care? How could their reaction affect an agreement?
In just one week you will learn how to understand each party’s interests, generate options to maximize value, leverage standards and alternatives as power, maintain productive relationships, and effectively communicate your intended messages.
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