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Good negotiating comes down to finding out the other party’s motivation, creating an incentive for them to do business with you again and being lucky, said James Holbrook, clinical professor of negotiation and mediation at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.
Holbrook was speaking to a meeting of the Utah Chapter of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association, Wednesday morning.
Finding out what motivates the person or group you are negotiating with reveals their weak spot, he said. “This kind of natural progression of finding out what motivates people is important in negotiation.”
Once you know the strengths and weaknesses of the other person, you should also know what their alternatives to a good negotiation are. Holbrook said if the other side has poor alternatives to resolving the issue, you know you hold the upper hand. Alternatively if they have a good alternative, you may need to tread more carefully.
Holbrook also emphasized the importance of not falling into common assumptions about negotiation. Too many people have been wrongly taught that negotiations need to adhere to rules like letting the other person make the first offer or walking out unless your demands are met.
Those types of behaviors only show the other party that you are incompetent. “[Demands] have to be grounded in some kind of reality, because you need to appear to be trustworthy,” he said.
Ultimately, by building good communication and finding out as much about the other group’s position as possible, you are in the best position to negotiate favorable terms.