On both accounts, process and outcome, I find negotiations similar to making love. For both you need a partner (or two). Both (or all three) want something and are determined to get it. There is foreplay in both processes. Its length tends to depend on partners eagerness. No foreplay may lead to no negotiations or no love making sometimes. If all parties express verbally and non-verbally readiness to get right into it, chances are the outcome will be reached.
1. I never negotiate with a weaker partner or someone vulnerable. Same goes for love making. They need a special approach, not a power struggle. At the end of the day, power is about what you do with it and how it serves the needs of those who are not in power or empowered. Apply a special, tailor made approach, bring them to terms equal to yours and only then proceed. No 50 shades of grey. Ensure you are on the same levels as you proceed. Slow down if your partner needs more time. Speed it up, if lagging behind. It needs to bring you together, as partners in love/ in negotiation, to your finish line.
2. Smile. Can you make love with a serious face? I can’t. Negotiating with a smile, a face-lift in every ones price range (Allan Leighton’s book on “Leadership”) will lift the whole situation to a new level of trust. Trust is a key ingredient in both love making and negotiations. Your love or negotiation partner needs to get assurance. Soft smiles, light and appropriate stereotypes-free jokes, open body language will give them this reassurance.
A brief story from negotiations I was involved in: we needed a break after 4 hours of negotiations, so headed to a cafe nearby for a coffee. I was accompanied by a seniour and a junior colleague. My seniour colleague asks me ” how do you like your coffee?”. I remembered a movie line between two African Americans. Same question was asked. The response was ” the same way I like my woman: hot, black and sweet” I quoted proudly. My juniour colleague reply was ” my girlfriend is black”. You can imagine my face :).
3. Apply your favourite science or art to preparations. The astronomy and astrology will help you get to know better your partner. Stars alignment will help you with an optimum set-up in relation to your partner. Chemistry will inspire your selection of approaches: hard, soft, liquid, volatile, stand alone or in any combination. Physics will bring the science of the matter to unleash the energy and force you need. Sculpturing will help you design your approaches to your partners’ tactic: cut in stone, melt, glue, rub, …. Psychology will help on mental and behavioral levels. Music will set the tone both in love making and negotiations. May start with sharing your favourite tunes, for instance.
4. Understand that win-win depends on each parties’ definitions. There is no universal win-win. You can get close to it though. Some of the insights above might help.
5. Gentle separations A relationship was born. Its lifespan depends on your willingness to maintain it. Appreciate your partner with a kiss, after making love, and a handshake and thanks after negotiations. Do not slam doors or leave without good buy, for instance. Saying that you’ll call, when knowing you’ll not, is from the same ” symphony”.
6. What I found universally applicable is that there are no universal rules in negotiations. Choosing your own approach to negotiations might involve finding your own angle or perspective for the outcome you desire. Just keep exploring!