The 5 W’s of Highly Effective Negotiation

[Part 1 of a series]
Know the Why

We’re taught to implement the 5 W’s in problem solving or information gathering. To be clear, I’m not talking about the multi-purpose lubricant touted for everything from squeaky doors to rusty under-carriages. I’m talking about those 5 little words – who, what, where, when and why. Not only are those simple five monosyllabic words helpful in investigatory endeavors, but they can have profound impact in other areas of life. Negotiation is no exception. In fact, I’d go so far as to say those negotiators who consider the 5 W’s, with intention, set themselves apart and can better navigate the sometimes murky waters of mediation and negotiation.

How, you ask? Let’s stick with the ‘W’ questions instead. With your permission, I’m going to start at the back end and work forward in a multi-blog series on the issue. In today’s blog post we’re going to tackle the why.

I Know the Why:

Knowing yourself is one of the first steps to prepare for negotiation. A critical component of knowing yourself is knowing your why. Tap into your motivation. Attaching emotion to negotiations will boost your energy, commitment and resolution. To clarify, I’m not saying to be emotional. I’m saying to mine and draw on the emotional underpinning that really drives a given negotiation. Let it inspire and propel you to be more persuasive and influential.

Let’s consider a simple example. Imagine you’re negotiating a salary increase. First, picture your approach if you believe it’s just about the money. Close your eyes, and visualize how that negotiation would go down – consider your arguments, mental state, attitude, energy, and motivation. Typically, when we focus on the money our range is narrowed, both in terms of the substance we bring to the table and the process, including our emotional engagement.

Now, imagine that same negotiation, but this time, it’s not just about the money, but instead, you tap into your deeper drives. Consider lifestyle benefits a salary increase brings. Perhaps it’s special programming for your kids – something they desperately want but money stood in the way. Maybe a much-needed romantic (or family) vacation is what you pine for, to rekindle important relationships in your life. How about a dream adventure – a bold, bucket-list-worthy escape? If you’re more of a pragmatist, is setting up a security bucket for your future and the future of your family what drives you?

And what are your whys beyond lifestyle? Maybe the salary increase signifies success, security or status for you. Does it allow you to own your value with confidence? Is it important for you to be a role model for someone and this potential salary increase is an important step in that direction for you. Maybe you want your daughter to see that a woman can succeed in a male-dominated industry, or by following her purpose and passion, or whatever message the salary increase equates to for you. You get the idea. The list of possible motivations is as long as the number of people negotiating every moment of every day.

Women often have baggage around money and wealth. This baggage can hold you back from asking for what you deserve. Money doesn’t make us shallow, selfish or greedy – it helps us achieve our goals. It’s important to know, with clarity, what those bigger goals and deeper whys are. Knowing your why going into a negotiation will give you greater courage, strength and impetus. It will inspire you to step in with confidence to get what you want, and to step up with the full force of your feminine power (in whatever style or means that brings to bear for you).

Once you’ve considered your own whys before you embark on the negotiation, it’s time to turn your attention to the party you’ll be negotiating with. Knowing yourself and your own motivation is only half the equation. It’s critical, as an effective negotiator, to also consider the motivation of the other side. What drives them? What are their big whys? Chances are, it’s not just about the money for them either. Think of the other party as an iceberg. What you see and what they present is only the tip. Ninety percent lurks under the surface – those all-important hidden or unstated needs.

Using our same salary negotiation example, if you’re negotiating with a manager, maybe their job security is on the line if they don’t cut costs, or the bonus they need so their kid can do the once-in-a-lifetime band trip to Switzerland depends on coming in under budget. Do they need to prove to the owner that they have what it takes to take it to the next level? An owner may be driven by status, or perceived power or to prove they deserved the family business and won’t let it fail. The saved money may be necessary to care for a sick loved one.

These motivations affect both the means and matter of negotiation – how they negotiate and what they’re prepared to offer. Think of the advantage you hold when you know what drives them – what’s really behind the posturing – what motivates their moves. You can anticipate, prepare and undercut or address these motivations. You can tailor your strategy and tactical decisions specifically to the fundamental motivator of your negotiating partner. It’s a powerful tool.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of thinking you need to stay detached. Instead, take advantage of the potential secret weapon of digging in to the emotion. Emotion is a powerful motivator. Find what motivates the other side and use it to your advantage. Find yours. Use it to fuel you. It will make you more effective, persuasive and compelling. When you understand and accept that the outcome has real meaning to you, beyond just dollars and cents, that stimulus will incentivize you and take your negotiation to the next level.


5 Ws series, confidence, intention, know your why, motivation, Negotiation

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