By Greg Williams
As a negotiator, do you consider the perspective of the other person? Do you assess to what degree he’s an issue versus solution-based negotiator? You should consider those questions. Because it will determine how he and you negotiate and the points he’ll stick to. Negotiators that are issue-based negotiate differently than solution-based negotiators.
In this article, you’ll discover why there are different styles of negotiations based on the issue versus solution sought outcomes. You’ll also gain insight to identify one style versus the other – and how to deal with either.
An issue-based negotiator is primarily concerned with promoting a cause that he’s defending – that makes him less likely to be open to logic or reasoning. And he’s usually the front-person for a larger entity that’s backing him. Example – even though as of this writing 97% of Americans would like to see more stringent gun background checks, measures to address that are blocked in the U.S. Senate by the gun lobby. Why? Because the gun lobby spends millions of dollars in campaign contributions to ensure politicians prevent such measures from becoming laws. Thus, to negotiate effectively, an entity would need to amass a force that’s equally as strong as the gun lobby – and one that’s willing to make equal monetary contributions. That’s how you’d offset the power of the gun lobby.
Therefore, when negotiating against an issue-based negotiator, consider looking for the weakness that lies in his supporters – they’re the source of his power and the power that you must address first. The negotiation strategies you’ll use to do so will depend on the tenacity displayed by them to maintain their position – your goal is to unseat them from their position.
Solution-based negotiators are a different breed from their issue-based counterparts. The former enters the negotiation genuinely seeking a solution – that’s not to say that the issue-based negotiator doesn’t seek a solution – he’s more zealous about getting you to agree with his position and less yielding. The solution-based negotiator is more flexible in his give-and-take to unearth solutions.
When negotiating with a solution-based individual, expose as much of your desires as you deem appropriate – encourage him to do the same. Convey a genuine ambition to seek a mutually beneficial outcome – display an openness that allows him to sense that he’s in a safe space. You want him to recognize that you won’t take advantage of him – the more secure he feels, the more information he’ll disclose about his position. To enhance this process, if you encounter misunderstandings, consider excepting the blame for it – again, you should gear your efforts towards making him feel safe – allowing him to experience blamelessness will enhance those efforts.
There is a point of caution to interject. If you sense your opponent views your willingness to be accommodating as weakness, stiffen your position – become less tolerant and less forgiving. Throughout every negotiation, one is constantly positioning oneself. Make sure you’re constantly monitoring how you’re perceived and the adjustment the other negotiator makes as the result of that perception. In turn, observe how he’s constantly repositioning himself per how he wishes you to perceive him.
Good negotiators attempt to advantage their position before they enter a negotiation – less knowledgeable negotiators don’t seek such advantages – they become prey as the result of their haphazard negotiation ways. To gain an advantage in your future negotiations, take into consideration whether you’ll be negotiating against an issue or solution-based negotiator. Doing so will give you insight into the type of plans to develop for the negotiation. That will give you a real advantage… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!