I am constantly surprised how in small business, so many people are afraid to negotiate almost anything. This can include situations that range from a customer’s purchase price, a lease rate for their office or any employee compensation. Many leaders see negotiation as a form of conflict and seek to avoid it at all costs.
On The Small Business Radio Show this week, Rich Michi, a professional business negotiator, attorney and CPA for more than 40 years explains why people are so afraid and how to become more effective negotiator. His clients have included billionaires, Fortune 500 CEOs, owners of small businesses, prominent lawyers and CPAs from major firms, and even superstar Grammy Award winners.
Interview with Rich Michi
Rich describes any negotiation simply as a “charming conversation to persuade the other side to agree with me for their benefit”. He says that people are afraid to negotiate because of the fear of conflict and because many leaders do not prepare for the conversation. “There is a lot of anxiety because so much of what happens at the negotiating table is spontaneous and there is typically a lot at stake. Many people think they need to be tricky in a negotiation- but if they are honest in their comments, it’s easier to find an ultimate solution.”
He believes that during consequential negotiations that a leader should hire a professional negotiator. “I don’t even like to have the owner at the negotiation table because I don’t want him to say or signal anything. He can be emotional about his business and the negotiator is not. It is much safer this way.” Rich also tries to befriend the other side so he “becomes well liked”.
If a leader wants to become a better negotiator, Rich encourages them to spend more time preparing and find out what the ultimate joint goal is for both parties.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, Rich takes steps to put less pressure on the other side to accept a deal he proposed. He offers different “packages” or combinations of offers so the other side can decide what fits them best. He does not try to force them into one solution and instead, gives many alternatives. He emphasizes that “the other side feels like they are in more control and much more likely to choose one. “