Integrity Is Primary Basis Of Negotiations

Having negotiated hundreds of contracts and deals during the last more than three decades, I have come to the conclusion that although there are many traits, skills, and necessary knowledge and expertise that come into play, none is nearly as essential as the need for absolute and uncompromising integrity. The skills of a professional negotiator are often under- estimated and taken for granted, because if negotiations are done correctly, they appear seamless and simple. Only when these negotiations are handled by someone with the needed skills, do the negative ramifications seem apparent.

1. A negotiator must never compromise his integrity. A negotiation is not a competition, but rather a business discussion where both sides must come to a meeting of the minds. It us essential that each negotiator develop a positive working relationship with the other, and the best negotiators are generally those that do their homework, both in terms of thoroughly knowing and understanding the needs of their group, but also understanding the bottom line and what the opposing side must get out of the negotiation. In this way, a negotiator can set priorities, and negotiation every point that he needs to achieve optimum results.

2. Negotiations must be held in good faith. Negotiations generally break down when one side or the other breaks that faith, and makes certain promises or statements that they know are untrue. Once the other side loses faith in his opponent’s integrity, the negotiating stance invariably hardens, and far less is achieved that might be otherwise. Great negotiators are always up front about their needs and desires, while understanding that there is always a delicate balance between pushing for the best deal you can make, and pushing to hard and thus boxing an opponent into a corner where he feels he must be defensive.

3. Professional negotiators understand their opponents needs. For example, when negotiating Food and Beverage with a hotel, a pro understands that you can’t ask the hotel to lose money. Together, however, negotiators can come up with alternatives that will reduce the costs to the hotel, and thus can be passed along for greater savings to the group. Because of this, professionals understand the concept of perceived value, and do not overspend in lower priority areas, at the expense of true needs.

4. In my experience, I have concluded that the only way to negotiate is on a win- win basis. Unless both sides come away feeling they have achieved their objectives, and their needs are met, the ultimate result of the negotiation is often disastrous.

Organizations must decide if they wish to internally negotiate or use an outside professional. Those that begin with understanding their needs, and creating a realistic budget, will invariably fare better in either scenario.