Robert Mnookin, Harvard Law School professor and Program on Negotiation faculty chair.
Whether you are trying to make a deal or resolve a dispute, you face a fundamental tension between managing what is happening across the table with your counterpart and behind the table with your constituents. This type of situation can be extremely difficult to manage.
One particular challenge can be to convince your constituents to care about the other party’s interests.
Experienced negotiators understand that by working with the other party to identify potential tradeoffs, they can create new sources of value that can benefit both sides. But if your superiors or attorneys bring a win-lose mindset to the negotiation, they may have difficulty seeing the value of looking for ways to reach not only your side’s needs, but those of the other party.
As a result, they may grow impatient with your efforts to problem-solve with the “enemy” across the table.
Managing the tension
How can you manage this tension within your own organization?
Before and during your important negotiations, take time to meet with your constituents to explain how thinking through the other party’s perspective could benefit your organization.
Include others who are on board with your problem-solving philosophy.
Update key constituents on your progress throughout the course of talks, being sure to communicate any breakthroughs that arise from your collaborative approach.