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Chapter 13. The reality > Negotiate (client)

Negotiate (client)

  • Head: In most change situations there is generally a clear line of sight, from thought, to words, then to action. Unless you are able to walk into a situation with a clear intent to negotiate with courage and consideration, then the chances of achieving a fair and collaborative outcome will be minimal. If you think of the Client stage as a battle to generate this month's income, then there is every chance that you will end up in a confrontation. However, if you view it as an opportunity to manage a collaborative exercise, then there is a greater chance that the outcome will be a generative process where the output is greater than the sum of the parts.

  • Heart: Clearly your emotions will influence the outcome of any client negotiation. Things you have heard about them, previous confrontations, or the business they are in can all act upon the way you feel about them. Although it is impossible to totally subordinate them (and so turn yourself into a robot) you can make yourself more aware of your emotions and choose not to respond to any intrusive thoughts. For example, in many cases you will be in a situation where you do not like the client because of their values or habits. However, you must still be able to negotiate with them in a fair and objective manner. To do this, you must take control of and own the signal that is sent out by the heart. Failure to do this will limit your development as a professional and may well reduce your level of work. At the end of the day, the negotiation must be focused on the problem, not the person.

  • Hands: The important thing is to behave in a manner that is contextually appropriate. The consultant who adopts an insensitive style when trying to gain a counselling contract with a marriage guidance bureau might have a few problems. Alternatively, the trainer who adopts an overly sensitive and open style when bidding for a contract in the building industry might be seen as too flaky. At the end of the day your behaviour must send a message that you respect both the client and yourself. Failure to do either of these will jeopardize your ability to negotiate a collaborative contract. Even worse, it will act as a dark cloud over the rest of the project. Clearly, negotiation doesn't just happen at the outset of a relationship. It is a process that takes place over the life of your relationship with the client. As such you must develop the capability and sensitivity to recognize when you are in a negotiating situation and be able to take the appropriate actions.


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