After looking to many Negotiation Skills experts who shared their insight from all different angles over the past couple of weeks, we thought that we would share what all of you had to say on the subject.
Is Negotiation ART or SCIENCE?
Most everyone we heard from believes it is definitely a bit of both, but it is amazing how many different opinions there are out there on this topic. Folks on LinkedIn recently chimed in to share there opinions, and here are excerpts from the top 6 answers, with most siding with Art, none with Science and some with Both/Neither!
1. Interesting answers you have here to an interesting question. Let’s define negotiate: to communicate or confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter; to deal with some matter or affair that requires ability for its successful handling or compromise.
It can’t be a science because science is systematized knowledge that can be learned, A + B = C in all situations.
Art is defined as the power of performing certain actions especially as acquired by experience, study, or observation. Hmmm… I think therein lies your answer for isn’t called “The Art of Negotiation” most often?
Negotiation is listening to and perceiving the nuances of what is being said and shown through facial expression, hearing the subtext, understanding what your goals are and what the other person’s needs or wants are and walking that fine line to come up with a solution so that everyone feels it’s a win/win situation without losing one’s cool or badgering the other. It’s takes great diplomacy, sensitivity, perhaps even manipulation. Some people are very good at this, some people aren’t. Why is that? Yes you can read books on the subject, take classes, but still others and better at it than others. Perhaps it’s innate. Some are born with golden tongues I have heard. However if two really stubborn people clash, sometimes it’s a stalemate! :)
Cheryl Roshak, President at Cheryl Roshak Associates
2. Negotiation is an art. I have found the following principles vital in practicing it:
Keep in mind that the other party is also developing his/her position. Keep a careful written record of events during each step, to include information provided, offers and counter-offers made and agreements reached.
Prepare for a negotiation with a “target” position and a “floor” position. Your objective is to conclude the negotiation achieving a conclusion as close to the target position as possible while never going beneath the floor.
Courtesy and politeness are mandatory. Avoid confrontations. Do not reveal your strategy in front of the other party except to objectively explain your position in terms of an incremental offer or a counter offer. Excuse yourself for outside caucuses or adjournments whenever it is necessary to study an offer, assess a situation or develop your next move.
It is always best to look at negotiations from a win/win perspective. Be honest and forthright. Look for insights into the other party’s negotiation position from the questions being asked, the data being requested or the responses being obtained. Defend position as conveyed in your proposal with documented facts. Look for openings in the other party’s proposal support documentation. Offer compromises and trade-offs of value to the other party in return for acceptance of your position.
Kenneth Larson, Retired Aerospace Contracts Manager, SCORE Volunteer Counselor and Founder, “Small to Feds”
3. I believe negotiation is more art than science; unfortunately many treat it as though it were only a science. That’s not to say that the necessary skills required to be an effective negotiator can’t be learned; however, in my experience the best negotiators process an innate ability to see and feel the needs on both sides of the table. They work for a successful negotiation where both parties feel as though they have won, at least on some level – that is an art.
Ken Ingram, Director at Expense Reduction Analysts
4. It is both a science and an art.
Negotiations can be as complex as physics, in fact, people go to college to study the science of negotiating just as they would the laws of nature.
At the same time, conducting negotiation is also like an ancient art form, some sort of Zen mental jujitsu. When you play the art of negotiation like a seasoned artist based on its scientific principles, you get the best deal when both parties get what they want, without feeling ripped off, as if they gave too much for too little.
Abdul Rahim Hasan, Marketer – Writer – Speaker
BOTH… and a little bit more
5. I think that this is a false dichotomy. Art has science behind it (acoustics, harmonics, etc for music for example), and good science has more than a bit of the intuitive insight and elegance that we call “art.” What we should really be asking is to what extent can effectiveness in negotiations be boiled down to some teachable/learnable concepts and tools? I think it has been well-demonstrated that such concepts as needs-based negotiation can be taught and yield better outcomes than in the absence of any particular method. But within that method there is still a distribution of effectiveness, ranging from gifted to not-so-much.
Cheri Thomas, MBA CCIM, Commercial Real Estate Broker specializing in income-producing investment properties, group investments
Negotiation is fundamentally about coming to a mutually acceptable agreement between two or more parties that is often different to some degree from that which each party initially would ideally have thought they wanted (otherwise no need to negotiate?)
Intuition, reading people, creativity (art does not have exclusive rights to creativity), methodical approach (science does not have exclusive rights to methodical approach), communication (listening, hearing and speaking), relationship skills, speed of thought, understanding complexity, flexibility, composure, self control, patience, persuasiveness, diplomacy and professionalism are some of the many skills required for effective negotiation in my humble opinion
Douglas Halliday, Chairman Global Executive Search & Mentoring Firm
See all complete answers here.
What do you think? Weigh in here with your thoughts.