Negotiations are effective conversations with ownership.
Me: “Hi, how are you? Is all going well?
Toastmaster: “Yes, all is well!”
Me: “I’m happy to hear that. So…we haven’t heard a speech from you for a while now. We’d love to hear you speak again.”
Toastmaster: “Thank you. Yes, I should give a speech soon.”
Me: “That would be wonderful. How about at next Thursday’s meeting?”
Toastmaster: “Well…I will finish writing it this weekend and then have some time to practice it. How about two weeks from now?”
Me: “Fantastic! I will write your name down for Thursday, two weeks from now. We are thrilled that you are part of our team!”
Toastmaster: “Thank you. I love this group.”
While we may not realize it, we negotiate with people every day. The degree of negotiation can be anywhere from impassive to intense.
When you ask for something, you have just begun to negotiate.
Always remember, Negotiations are objective.
That quick conversation, aka the negotiation, led the Toastmaster to give a prepared speech on the agreed day. From there on he continued with subsequent speeches and earned an educational award. I had similar conversations with other members. A majority of the members earned at least a single educational award. Through these simple, yet convincing dialogues, the member achievements helped our club accomplish all 10 Distinguished club goals and thus becoming a President’s Distinguished Club (President's Distinguished Club is the highest level of recognition for a club in Toastmasters International). Also, our club achieved a total of 24 educational awards in the Toastmaster year (July 01 – June 30), which was the 3rd highest number of educational achievements in a club, in the District 44.
Before you begin negotiating, ask yourselves…
Remember all negotiations are objective. Triangulating the answers will help you to formulate objective goals and process.
In negotiations, body language as important as spoken words. Imagine the above conversations with a weak or feeble body language. Would you be persuaded?
Confidence also shows through strong gestures or body language. Those gestures send out non-verbal messages that complement and perhaps even amplify the verbal messages.
Here’s another example of negotiation. A different method and a strategy.
I started as a Reservations agent at an airline. 5 years later, I was promoted to a performance manager in a call center in a different city, a different state. I find myself among 500+ agents. They all had 15+ years of seniority whereas I had 5 years with the company.
The airlines had a partnership with a car rental company. The contract required a 1% transfer rate per airline call center. This meant at least one call should be transferred (to car rental company) for every incoming 100 calls (into the airline call center). Unfortunately, the transfer rate for this call center was .33%.
The very expensive contracts were at stake. Lack of transfers meant lost revenue for both companies and, missed financial benefits for call center agents.
I knew for certain that there was more than 1 transfer for every 100 calls. The agents said that the callers were not interested in finding out car rental rates, and therefore, the customers declined the transfers.
What would have happened had I demanded that the agents somehow transfer the calls? What if I was unconcerned of the agents’ reason? These were very productive call center agents. Their customer service was good and they were good at selling tickets. So, there was a disconnect when it came to the transfers. Demanding these agents to do something against their concern would have been sufficient ground for dismissal from my job!
I took my first step in negotiation: Build relationships.
I shook hands and made small talk with every agent in that call center.
I was candid and genuine. To start a good conversation towards negotiations, we must connect with the group.
During this time, I planned my course and pulled in my resources together. I was ready with my action plan, once I had built the relationships.
Building relationships meant breaking the guard down between myself and the agents; meant establishing a reasonable trust between them and I; meant the agents are willing to hear me out.
To prove my case, (that there are more than 1% of callers who are interested in finding out car rental rates), I selected 20 committed agents.
I asked each of the 20 agents, to ask for the transfer in every call, for 100 consecutive calls. They had a sheet with 100 boxes. A Yes to transfer was a checkmark in the box. A No was cross in the box.
About 4 days later, I received all the papers back.
Here is positive news. All the pages had at least 3 checks, some even had 10. These agents experienced a 3% to 10% transfer rate, during the 100 consecutive calls.
Here is the critical highlight of this negotiation.
I DID NOT prove the agents wrong. Rather I convinced them that there are callers who want to find out discount rates on car rentals. To get those 3 YESes, they had to hear 97 NOs. Unfortunately, anyone who is engulfed in a sea of rejections inadvertently will be predisposed to a state of nothingness. This simple, yet effective, exercise, moved them out of a negative paradigm and created a set of positive expectations.
That is what the negotiations do. This is what the negotiators do.
Here are some pointers on becoming a good negotiator.
Here is a word of caution.
The positive impact of Social Media or Digital Media is that we are connected to the people, including people we hardly know. The negative of Social Media or Digital Media is that it has created an unfortunate thought process, to WIN an argument just by stating an opinion.
I highly encourage you to walk away from that habit. If you get in to this bad habit of opining on other people’s comments, you create a thought process of judgmental pushback or slander. It is a human weakness. Such judgments lead not only to quarrelsome attitudes but also fails to measure opposite arguments. Therefore, rather than being in a mood of deliberation, the mind begins to initiate arguments of right and wrong. This is not only erroneous; it is also rude and lunacy.
Overall, negotiations are another form of conversation or speaking. Where can you master your speaking skills? Aha! Yes, at Toastmasters Club!!
To reap the benefits, you must be fully engaged as a Toastmaster and avail of all the opportunities Toastmasters has to offer. In Toastmasters your practice sets you up to be an expert.
So, what do you want?