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Do – Overview

Once you have a firm understanding of the situation at hand, and you've gone through the planning process, the third step to successful negotiation is to conduct the actual negotiations using the PDCA model for quality improvement.

A few key points include:

  • The first negotiations event might simply be the initial meeting. Previous conversations and due diligence should have been conducted to eliminate any surprises regarding the purpose of the first meeting.
  •  In some cultures, and companies, this initial meeting might be more of a “meet and greet” session. Other companies may want to start the negotiations right away. Consider the relationship.
  • The previously agreed upon agenda should have included the time and the topics to be discussed. At the beginning of the negotiations, reiterate the time schedule and if needed any scheduled breaks and manage time. If it was planned for the initial meeting to be the first of subsequent meetings, that should have been identified in the agenda and may be included as a respectful reminder. Do not continue the negotiations after the scheduled time, or when people are tired, emotional or lose focus.
  • The agenda included the topics to be discussed but may not have explicitly stated the order of discussion. Be prepared to discuss the topics as listed in the agenda or consider mutually deciding to move the sequence to better accommodate negotiations.

Note: Some people prefer to start with the topics that may be more difficult to negotiate and end with the easier topics; other people prefer starting with the easier topics to create a foundation before discussing more difficult items. Since the ranking was completed in the planning phase, asking the other party if they have a preference shows your willingness to be flexible. There may be a possibility that the other party views this as a concession of sorts and may possibly feel they are obligated to return the good deed. Including an early discussion of where to start should be done in good faith and not as a negotiating technique.

  • Depending on the length of time, brief breaks in a session can allow both parties to regroup and consider progress and gaps before moving forward to the next step. In other cases, an additional session might be required. Both parties should want to reach an agreement, and recognize based on scope, complexity, previous communications before negotiations, and progress made during this session, when and if another session is needed. Before ending the meeting, along with creating a summary of progress and gaps, the next steps should be determined. These next steps should include a  timeline.

In the PDCA quality improvement process, the “Do” step encourages doing a pilot test. The emphasis is to try on a smaller scale to verify results before continuing.

In negotiations, a similar logic of a pilot test applies, especially for negotiations for substantial amounts, substantial risks or longer time periods.

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