Brilliant Negotiators have the ability to balance the use of collaborative and competitive negotiation tactics in a way that creates the best possible outcomes for all effected.
It would be idealistic to believe a wholly collaborative approach would always get you the best results. Who shows up on the other side of the negotiation table is outside of our control and we need to have the skills to effectively communicate and negotiate with all types of people and all styles of negotiators.
I like to think the ultimate use of negotiation skills is to create a collaborative process and to use a mix of collaborative and competitive tactics. This could also be referred to as soft on people, hard on issues. Interestingly, many competitive tactics are more effective when they are presented within a collaborate framework.
A classic competitive strategy is to make an offer that has a very short irrevocable. In some cases this can be an effective tactic but it also has the potential to damage the relationship and scuttle the deal if it is seen as overly aggressive. If you can create a collaborative process, you may have better luck leveraging this tactic. You might phone the listing agent and say, “ Bob, good news and bad. I have an offer on your listing on 8th street. It’s a good buyer and I think we can make a deal but the bad news is my buyer has his eye on another house and offers are on that house later tonight. He has given you and your client a short fuse of only two hours. I’m sorry about that but I wanted to bring the offer to you in hopes your people are available – are they?” In most cases, Bob will appreciate the open communication and do his best to reach his people and to keep them from getting upset about the short deadline. What do you think may have happened if you just send the offer over via email with no explanation as to why the irrevocable was so short and just a subject line saying Offer good until 6pm.
By being soft on the person, in this case Bob, he is willing to work with us towards an outcome that satisfies both parties. We are able to successfully use our competitive tactic of a short deadline in the most effective way in this situation. Being soft on people allows us to get away with being tough on issues so we can protect our client and get the very best results.
Of course, there is never any guarantees any given strategy will work but a collaborative process increases your odds significantly.