Knowledge is the Most Powerful Tool of Negotiation

By Mark Jankowski

When it comes to negotiation, there are few people that believe that when making a deal, “the best way to get what you want is to help the other side get what they want.”  This seems to go against what most people consider negotiation. However, to be effective as a Project Manager, it is important to understand this concept.

Helping the other side get what they want does go against the common view of negotiation.  But despite popular portrayals, negotiation is not and should not be, war.  In reality, the better you listen to the other side and learn their interests and needs, the more knowledge you will have with which to negotiate.  Knowledge is the most powerful tool in negotiation.  When you know what they want or need, you can help them get it on your way to getting what you want.

Case in point:  When Eddie Murray wanted to be the first Baltimore Oriole to break the $1 million a year salary barrier, we could have ranted, raved, pleaded our case in the press, and threatened to go to another team.  Instead, we learned about the Orioles’ needs.  The team had limited resources to pay escalating star salaries.  But the team owner, Edward Bennett Williams, had plans to market the team beyond its traditional fan base, thereby increasing revenues greatly.  Potential Hall of Fame players such as Eddie Murray could help achieve Williams’ goals.  So, the Orioles wanted to keep Eddie.  The only problem was, EBW’s plans would take time.  Eventually, we worked out a contract that met Eddie’s goal because we recognized the team’s needs.  Eddie got the $1 million salary by having it partially paid out in the form of deferred compensation, giving the team the marketing time needed to build revenues.

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