Efficiency Interview

18. July 2015

WHAT IS NEGOTIATION EFFICIENCY?

Interview conducted and originally posted by Syngroup on 17.3.2015

HOW DO GOOD NEGOTIATIONS BEGIN?

With the right objectives in mind. And these are often derived from our own aims in life. Just negotiating well or efficiently is hardly going to bring me happiness in life. I first need to reflect on what I actually want. What kind of benefit do I derive from taking the supplier to the cleaners and bankrupting him?

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS IN NEGOTIATIONS?

Negotiating efficiently means sounding out where I can create added value at no cost to me. Negotiating effectively means setting yourself the right objectives and pursuing them in the negotiation process. When someone pushes past me in the checkout queue at a supermarket, I can either negotiate or simply do nothing. But I do need to know beforehand whether it is worth it for me. Do I have to be in the right, as otherwise I’ll lose face? Then perhaps it’s not worth the effort. If I can turn round and soon forget all about it, it is of no consequence.

SO, ARE WE TALKING HERE ABOUT EFFORT AND BENEFIT?

Yes. Because the things that make us what we are – creativity, belief, hope, happiness or luck – are not efficient. This means that negotiations do have some kind of hybrid structure. They are not just about contents, but also about relationships.

AND THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DEFINED IN TERMS OF EFFICIENCY?

Exactly. Efficiency is, after all, a very mechanical attribute. If however you happen to have a trusting relationship between two parties, people or groups, the actual content is often not a particular problem. It’s like in a marriage. If the two people in a marriage understand one another, the question of whether the face cloth should be on the left or the toothbrush on the right is no longer an unsolvable issue.

SO IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT IS IT THAT TENDS TO BE LACKING: THE READINESS OR ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE?

These two aspects can’t be separated. Only if I am prepared to negotiate am I capable of negotiating. Lots of people tend to think that you always have to be hard when negotiating. That’s completely wrong. You have to strive for both sides to come out with something. Of course it’s a spectacular sight to see someone bang on the table and say: “Take it or leave it, Baby.” Everyone then thinks this is how to negotiate. But this is only one minute in a month-long process. I would like all of us to learn to negotiate better. And to actually properly negotiate. And not be afraid of facing up to things.

DR. STEFAN AMIN TALAB, LL.M. is a coach in negotiating, author of the bestseller
The Master Negotiator and director of the comeon.institute. He is a qualified economist and lawyer, developer of the sought-after Negotiation Sparring and is active throughout the world as a “ghost negotiator” and key note speaker.