Business Negotiation Strategies: How Your Mind Affects Your Goals

How our mind affects negotiation strategies is a question to consider when seeking any kind of agreement. When faced with a negotiation, we always start with some goal we want to achieve in mind. That goal, somewhat abstract, will be affected by many factors which inevitably influence the process of negotiation and the perception of each of the parties when information is exchanged. It is not, therefore, a specific goal, not a fixed and unmovable one, but it may change depending on how the negotiations develop.

Indeed, expectations change as we experience success or failure. With every demand, every concession, every threat, every delay, every postponement or every slip that negotiators exchange among them, the goal progressively changes, be it consciously or unconsciously, in the negotiator’s mind.

That goal depends on a thin line drawn between success and failure. In other words, expectations evolve and it’s likely that they won’t be the same at the end of a negotiation that we had at the beginning of it.

How do those expectations change during a negotiation?

When one of the parties makes a concession during a negotiation, the prospects of the other party are heightened. We don’t get the same results with a small concession that cost a lot of work and effort to achieve, than with an important, even surprising assignment.

The effect will be different and, consequently, the expectations that we have will be affected differently. In other words, concessions can be perceived as a success.

Likewise, a refusal will also mean a change in the expectations of the negotiating parties. By showing our opposition to the proposals of the other party in an assertive way, we will demonstrate that we are resolute in our conviction and, therefore, the expectations of the other party will logically change.

Sometimes you need to say “no” several times in order to convince your interlocutor that you are serious about it. That’s why persistence and clarity are so important in stating our point of view on an issue during a negotiation process. Similarly, when one of our proposals gets refuted several times, our perspective will also change and we will need to redefine our goal.

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Our aspirations and their influence

There is a correlation between the expectations of negotiators and the results they ultimately achieve. In this sense, it has been often proved that the higher the aspirations, the better the final results. Logically, this is all relative and every negotiation is influenced by many factors besides the aspirations of parties. For example, not all negotiators will settle for the same conditions, especially if both sides have similar expectations.

Managing expectations is therefore crucial to keep options alive in a negotiation process. The important thing is that, in the end, both parties feel satisfied with the agreement reached. The higher the overall satisfaction is, the more likely there will be cooperation in the future.

Our mind is a key piece when resolving any conflict or negotiation. At the end of a process, it is almost inevitable to compare the actual results with what we expected to achieve. As a consequence, the same result can be interpreted very differently by each person.

For instance, two customers who bought a car for 30,000 euros won’t feel the same if one of them expected to pay 25,000 and the other 35,000. One will be much happier than the other.

Paving the way for a negotiation

Good negotiators know how to manage expectations and their state of mind before and during the negotiation. Some managers of big companies, for example, do it before negotiating the salary of their employees: if at the end of the year they have reported that the economic situation is difficult, the expectations of workers will decrease and they will be satisfied if the increase is not as good as they had expected earlier that year, or even if the increase hasn’t finally even happened at all; and vice versa.

Our state of mind affects the goals of the negotiation. The strategies we adopt will be affected by multiple elements and concerns. What will I gain and what will I lose? Am I really a good negotiator? Has my interlocutor listened to me, has he understood my concerns? Will I be able to build trust?

In short, the subjective experience of an individual when negotiating considerably affects strategies and therefore goals, expectations and final results. We must learn to manage and verbalize what others expect from us and what we expect from them so as to facilitate the agreement that will satisfy both parties.

How does your mind affect negotiations?

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