Monday, June 13, 2011

Who Is That?

“So you mentioned that a new executive unexpectedly joined the other party’s negotiation team,” Tyler Gitou said to Verdi. “How did that happen?”

Verdi shrugged. “What do you mean how did it happen? It was the corporate controller. He showed up! I can’t stop the other side from bringing new people into the room, can I?”

Tyler smiled. “No, you can’t stop that behavior. But there is no excuse for it being a surprise.”

Verdi defiantly folded his arms across his chest. “But the other party’s team lead, Marissa, didn’t tell me someone new was coming.”

“Exactly,” Tyler said. “Why didn’t she tell you?”

Verdi thought for a moment. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess it would have been nice if she had given me a warning.”

“It would indeed. The issue here is that you did not have a good enough relationship with Marissa for her to call and warn you,” Tyler said. “If you don’t have a strong relationship with the other party, you need to be prepared for surprises because chances are they will start using tactics and tricks at some point. Ideally, you would have established a foundation of trust to build a collaborative way of working. That way when the controller decided to come to the meeting, Marissa would contact you to coach you on how to work with him in the meeting.”

“But why would she do that?” Verdi asked. “Bringing in a new party is a great way to create a new set of demands.”

“It is, but it also slows the process, impacts trust and potentially lacks legitimacy.”

“I can see how it would hurt the process and trust,” Verdi said. “But why does it lack legitimacy?”

“Because you have been working with Marissa all this time shaping and balancing the deal,” Tyler said. “Suddenly there are new demands that affect that balance. What is the basis for those demands? If you gave them a deal that you believe met their interests, what are the new interests that are driving these requests? Some may be legitimate and you can discuss options to meet them. Others might be someone trying to get your necktie.” (see “Don’t Give Away Your Necktie!”

“I see your point,” Verdi said. “If she is committed to a collaborative way of working to drive the greatest value out of the deal for both of us, she will share with me any coming issues that might affect that outcome.”

“Exactly,” Tyler said. “A Deal Whisperer always focuses on building trust and a strong working relationship with the other side. That way both parties are committed to a shared outcome and will work with and coach one another if anything arises that might alter that outcome.”