This guest blog comes to us from Tom Rogers, CEO of Vendor Centric.

Companies often fail to see the full picture when it comes to negotiations. Far more than a single conversation, the negotiations process extends from the inception of a potential relationship to that relationship's eventual conclusion. Throughout this period, an organization might have to carry out the negotiation process hundreds of time. Successful or unsuccessful, internal or external, these will all contribute to the relationship's outcome.

Successful negotiations come down to identifying the appropriate style and employing it effectively. Professionals typically fall into one of two camps - they're either Positional negotiators or Principled negotiators. The former are characterized by a thirst for competition. They enter negotiations looking to win. Principled negotiators, on the other hand, focus their efforts on collaboration and aim to realize a win-win.

Let's take a closer look at both sides of the table:

Positional Negotiation

If you'e trying to dominate a discussion, you'll do well to employ a positional negotiation style. It is intended to intimidate the other party. Ideally, they'll feel so intimidated that they lose confidence in their own position and accept your demands.

The positional approach requires a person to adopt a position and arrive at an agreement that will adhere as closely as possible to that position. Typically, this means totally disregarding alternative options and input from the other party. Positional negotiations are, by their very nature, limited and predictable. In many cases, they devolve into something like an endurance test. Both sides will argue their case to the point of exhaustion in hopes that their adversary will give in first. 

Principled Negotiation

Principled negotiation is the style preferred by professionals who truly believe in the concept of win-win agreements. The approach is built on the assumption that both parties share common interests and that the outcome will improve if each participant can share their perspective.

While certain elements of a negotiation should be positional (delivery dates and data security, for example), the principled style will tend to drive most deals. 

Success in a principled negotiation is defined in terms of the long-term relationship it helps build. Professionals who prefer this style recognize that a signature is not the ultimate goal, but a milestone in building an effective relationship.

Do You Prefer One Style Over the Other? 

In all likelihood, you've got a preference for one style over the other. Experienced negotiators, however, know there's a time and place for both. It's important to familiarize yourself with both, practice them, and retain the lessons you learn along the way. 

Negotiations can get heated, but it's important not to lose sight of reality. The other party has goals and objective of their own. If possible, you should always aim for a win-win. These agreements are far more likely to result in mutual respect, mutual value, and a long-lasting, successful relationship.
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