Negotiation's Not an Art, It's a Skill You Can Hone

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 10-14-2005 Print Email
Ziff Davis Internet's Jeff Angus advised that negotiation's not a mysterious art that only the soulless can master. With the right instruction, anyone can be a competent negotiator, with vendors, with colleagues, even with the kids.
Every manager's tool box contains a jumble of tools he or she uses every day, some jetsam that never quite matched the job at hand and, if the owner is clever, a little cup over to one side for pieces that are rarely useful for their designated purpose, but are invaluable for other jerry-rigging.

All really successful managers keep "negotiation" in that cup, no matter how much they loathe using it.

Even if the mere idea of negotiating, especially with non-technical people, gives you the willies, there are a handful of techniques you must have to be effective.

You don't have a lot of choice about it, so you might as well get over the fear and the yuck factor of negotiation, and make it easy for yourself and successful for your employer.

In most IT management jobs, negotiation is a set of skills one employs formally a couple of times a month, with a vendor, another department manager or a staffer.

But you can apply the same techniques to all kinds of situations that aren't formal negotiations. Motivating an employee both to work overtime and do a good job with it. Dealing with your kids. Getting a deadline pushed out.

Because negotiation, done properly, is a method for coming to a conclusion that's not only acceptable to both parties, but also one that leaves both open to further dealings together.

This demands skill at calculation and some human skills, though in small portions.

This is one of the rare areas in business skills where there are books you can read and come away sufficiently equipped to do the job adequately.

One of the best books on negotiation is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the four most useful business books of all time. The bad news is, it's out of print. The great news is the author has published it as an e-book and is giving it away for free.

"Negotiation: The Art of Getting What You Want" by Michael Schatzki (Signet Books, 1981) is the classic. It's perfectly aimed, presuming you have a few pieces of skill floating around in you but that while you wish you were good at negotiation you don't love either negotiating or the thought of it. It respects the reader's intelligence while presuming no skill level. To me, that's a perfect foundation for any business book.

Schatzki's book is very tool-oriented, giving clear patterns to follow. It's easy reading and very "left-brained," which will work for a lot of people (I'll recommend another, even easier-to-read book that's still in print for those who prefer to lead with their "right brain.")

Next Page: What do you want? What will you settle for?



 

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