I Have Something to Tell You, Part III
I gotta say that one more time: You. Are. Hot.
Like “Joan Jett” hot.
Because you’ve made it this far along in our exciting journey of figuring out how, why and when to share information during a negotiation.
To summarize: if you want the information you share to help you, you need to know who you’re negotiating with and what kind of negotiation you’re having.
Let’s say you know that the person you’re negotiating with is a good listener and follows up on information you give them and that the particular negotiation you’re engaged in is of the high stakes variety.
What does that tell you?
You know that if you share information with this person, they will do things with it. They will listen to it, consider it, use it. They might not do those things to your advantage, but they will do those things.
You also know that because the stakes are higher, you’re going to have to share more information. What information, how much and when is yet to be determined, but if you want a deal that is better than splitting things down the middle, you’re going to have to tell your story — what you’re interested in and how those interests impact this negotiation.
So what next?
You’re going to be shocked by what I say next; shocked!
Use your BATNA.
You just fell down didn’t you?
But seriously: your BATNA is a treasure trove of information about your negotiation.
You’ve put a great deal of thought into coming up with your BATNA and understanding why it is your very best alternative to this agreement working out. You can re-do all that work to figure out what to do in the thick of negotiation, but why would you? Use what you have.
And before we dive into the fun, a word of reminder: use your common sense. Don’t be offensive; don’t tell them things you wouldn’t want anyone else to know; don’t post things about the negotiation online; don’t talk their ear off; listen; don’t tell them everything.
Ready, then? Let’s go:
Understand why your BATNA is your BATNA
You chose the alternative for a reason: what is it?
Likely it has something to do with the fact that, even if it’s your second choice, it helps you to do things you want to do and helps you avoid things you don’t want to do. Those things are (or should be) a manifestation of your interests in the deal.
Remembering why you chose your BATNA can help you identify when and what type of information you’d want to share information with your first-choice potential client.
Your BATNA is to accept another job you’ve been offered to do the graphic novel version of the OED because it will allow you to spend 6 months in England doing pigeon hole research, but you’re a bit concerned because you think the OED job will take, all told, at least 150 years.
When the director of the video says this job might take a while, your BATNA tells you you have enough time and can confidently commit to a long job. (If the video job is less than a 150 years, and you can do your BATNA, ipso facto you can do the video job).
When the director talks about wanting someone who can really make basic concepts come alive (i.e. “if you like it, then you should have put a ring on it”); you can tell him that you were recently offered a job translating the OED into fun images based on your portfolio. (But don’t tell him it’s the job you’ll take if you don’t get this one. More on that later.)
If he’s being wishy washy about awarding the job, you can tell him you have another offer on the table and you need to know when he’ll be notifying you of his decision.
Notice you don’t have to tell him about the BATNA to share information that comes from the BATNA.
Share things that make their BATNA less attractive
If you’ve done your homework, you should have a pretty good idea of what their back up options are. You might not know their exact BATNA, but you should be able to identify themes in their back up options.
In looking at those themes, what can you do to make the alternatives appear less attractive? If their alternative involves pushing the date of publication out three months, they might reconsider if they knew a rival publishing house is releasing a book at that time. If their BATNA is dependent upon a particular convention, don’t you think they’d be interested to know that one of the headlining artists isn’t going to show?
To be clear: I’m not suggesting you make things up.
But I am suggesting you consider the information you have about their alternatives, and think about sharing it if it would make their BATNA less appetizing.
Share things that make your BATNA appear to be more attractive
The possibility of loss can create desire. You know this if you’ve ever dated someone for a bit longer than you knew you should have. For whatever reason, sticking around was more attractive than moving on.
A negotiation is a relationship: make it more attractive for them to stick around than move on.
Share information that makes your BATNA look more attractive than they might perceive it to be. If they know you have a good back up plan, they’ll want to persuade you to stick with them.
What kind of information are we talking about?
- Things you could do if you pursued your BATNA;
- Things your BATNA can help you avoid;
- Opportunities your BATNA offers that the agreement might not; and
- Any opportunities your counter party might lose if you went with your BATNA.
Does this mean you share your BATNA with the other party? Or that you walk up to them and say “If this doesn’t work out I’ve got a sweet, sweet deal with the guy down the street; his phone number is 503.555.1234. Call him. He’ll tell you.”
Well, you don’t want to give your counterpart the opportunity to eviscerate your BATNA. Which, if they know it, they can do. (It’s what I’d expect you to do to them if you knew their BATNA.)
They might have an idea of what your BATNA is, but chances are they don’t actually know. Share enough that they know you have solid alternatives but not so much that they can negatively impact your ability to use them.
Congratulations! You’ve made it through some very difficult negotiation lessons.
It is official: You are a rock star.
Even Joan Jett says so.