What is Diplomacy in Negotiations?
Expert diplomacy and negotiation skills are needed to reach mutually agreeable deals.
Diplomacy is the art of creating and managing relationships among nations and the art of negotiation is that of forging relationships through agreements. As such, diplomacy offers valuable tools for all business negotiators, who themselves are in the business of creating and managing relationships among companies – whether they view this as diplomacy or even as their overall goal or not.
Among the many diplomacy and negotiation skills required in negotiation, business negotiators need to be able to size each other up accurately, taking into account cultural, organizational, and other differences. To capitalize on the benefits of diplomacy, they also need to be able to present a united front.
Advance work is especially critical when you expect your talks to be complex, involving numerous issues, multiple parties, and plenty of disagreement. When negotiators work together on a draft agreement, they literally get on the same page from the start. In many instances, this collaborative process can improve their odds of finding common ground as compared with simply exchanging a series of proposals across the table.
All this advance work—choosing the right leaders, winning support from key players, setting a hospitable environment, and negotiating a draft agreement—doesn’t guarantee successful negotiations, but it will put you on substantially firmer ground.
- Seek diverse opinions—and then draw your own conclusions. When setting strategy for an important negotiation or conflict-resolution effort, it can be valuable to seek a variety of viewpoints. At a certain point, however, you’ll need to sift through the facts and opinions, and craft a unified approach.
- Promote team cohesion. If the other team detects chaos and conflict within your ranks, they are liable to take advantage. To get your team on the same page, spend ample preparation time negotiating key roles, discussing substance, and confronting any rivalries or differences of opinion head-on.
- Size up the other side. Don’t take the other team’s apparent chain of command at face value. Research individual negotiators’ areas of expertise, perspectives, and influence. Rather than treating surprising behavior as an anomaly, continually update your assessments and work on managing cultural differences. Strive to make inroads with those who appear to have the most sway with top leaders.
Discover how to boost your power at the bargaining table in this free special report, Dealmaking: Secrets of Successful Dealmaking in Business Negotiations, from Harvard Law School. We will send you a download link to your copy of the report and notify you by email when we post new diplomacy or business negotiation advice and information.
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