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How to win an internal negotiation

Negotiation is ListeningYou can’t “win” at internal negotiations, not in the long run. Sure, you might get your way in the short-term by outmanoeuvring someone, but they probably won’t like it, and they certainly won’t have your back the next time you need help.

The best way to persuade someone of anything, is to show them how, by doing what you suggest, they can achieve something that will be of real value to them. Negotiate that challenge, and you’ll not only get them on board with your plans, you’ll gain a grateful supporter for the future. Here’s how to go about it.

Ultimately, your pitch for your project should go something like this:

  • Here are the challenges you’re facing
  • Here’s what I can help you to achieve
  • These are the barriers that are stopping us
  • This is how we can get past them
  • Here’s what I’ll need from you

The first two points are the most critical. You need to convince your colleagues that you understand their live issues and their personal pictures of success. And in order to do that, you’re going to need to ask them about their challenges, their priorities, and why they’re so important – what it would mean for them if they could overcome them.

You’re going to have to listen. You’re going to have to think about, and talk about, the things that will stand in their way. And at every step, you’re looking at how your project could help; how it could be flexed, re-worked or re-thought so that it still hits your objectives but helps those key colleagues that you need onside, to achieve their goals too.

And the really great thing? You can start asking and listening right now.

BOTTOM LINE: If your starting position in an internal negotiation is “how can I win the argument?” you’re setting up barriers not only to learning anything useful from them, but actually to your own long term success. If instead, your starting position is “how can I help them to succeed?” you’ll be pushing at an open door when you tell them what you’re going to need in order to help them.

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