How do you negotiate with difficult people?
I am working on a partnership with another local business to benefit each others' sales. While we are aligned on where we see the benefits to both of our businesses, I feel the potential partner is being difficult on some of the details. I don't want to stop the discussions, as a partnership will definitely help both of us, but I am struggling over how to work with this person.
For some strange reason I have always enjoyed working with difficult people. I like having them for customers but they can drive me a bit crazy. I enjoy having them for suppliers as long as they provide the things I need and I am fine with them as friends. Actually some of the things they do I find hilarious.
However, when it comes to a partner I would not even remotely think of having one as a partner. As it is partnerships are the worst kind of businesses. They have the highest failure rates and the lowest amount of owner gratification. To be honest I would be very hesitant to have a partner at all but a difficult one would be an absolute ( I would rather cover myself in gasoline and light it) no. No, No, No, a million no's.
Ask yourself if this person is so difficult is it worth it if you constantly have to work with them.
Is this person being difficult to get the best terms/deal for themselves?
Will you have more details in the future once the partnership is created?
How much time will this take of you?
How long is this partnership to exist?
Is this an equal investment in time and money?
Make sure you can dissolve it without penalty.
It sounds like the partner is not really convinced or does not fully appreciate one of the following:
1. Benefit to his/her business – You both need to be very clear about how you benefit. We get a lot of referral business. We are very clear how it works. You put a lead our way and if we sell our services we give you X% of the revenue. If you are a existing client, you can invoice us or we take it off your next bill if you prefer. So it is crystal clear how the arrangements works and how each side benefits.
2. Equity – You both benefit equally. Usually people do not want to think the other side gets more out of a deal than them. Sad but true, as this is just human nature. Win-Win is great in theory as I long as I win a little more than you! You can see from our above example this is clear. We get a new contract and you get a % of the contract so the larger the deal the bigger the introduction fee you get. Simple and equitable.
3. Mechanics – How does it work. Not sure what you are proposing to the other party but let's assume it is reciprocal business. How do you register or indicate the client has come from either party's recommendation? How do you compensate (if at all)? How do you track the client's progress?
4. Verification – How do you ensure both parties can measure the benefit? This can be a quicksand and it is best not to get too bugged down in paper chase, but make it simple and effective.
However, having said all of this you need to sell the benefit of working together to your potential partner. If they are not convinced none of the above will make any difference.
I would go back a few steps and check their understanding of the benefits, how things work, and ask if there are any areas they are unsure about or are uncomfortable with. Suggest a trial period to see how things work out and then you can both review it say in 3-6 months time. You can then iron out any issues and see if the partnership is really worth the time and effort you both will put into it.
As Mario has said, it is difficult to know without full details but I hope this at least gives you a start point.
Ask yourself this general question?
"HOW DO YOU FEEL about this person in general"
"Do you want to be in 'BED' with this person?" as the saying goes,
as in do you FEEL good to be in a relationship with this person regardless of how difficult he can be.
Difficult people can be at times good or bad...Look at WHY and WHAT they are difficult on..Are they things that are PETTY or SIGNIFICANT...as in
Is the person being tough on Valid points or things that don't really matter in the overall scheme of the partnership
You can tell a lot by a person on what they CHOOSE to VALUE.
If they are tough in saying "you need to get the job done within reason or expect that you do and say what you mean".."or keep within the budget"that is a Valid stance to take
but if they are difficult on things that don't really impact the business...example "The business cards don't look perfect" or "I don't work with Vegetarians or with Fun-easy going people"...then watch out..
This is a prelude to how the person will work with you in the future.
Your instincts never lie...trust them
Other thing is, you need to find people who will be there when you FAIL and experience the DARK times, and this is a guarantee...They are here to help you and not be difficult all the time. Being tough at times is fine, but not always or never-ending, it's bad energy and draining on the relationship and project. There must be a balance
Be tough when you need to be, on both sides
And Fight for the truly important things that matter to you, and are dealbreakers....
If you have 4 arguments that your party wants to win on, and out of the 4, only ONE is the most important, then fight for that ONE, and you can give or accomodate the other 3 that are not as important
Jason: Start by assuming positive intent. Have a conversation (or 2 or 3, etc.) and use your "active listening" skills to try and understand your potential partner. Make sure to probe to get to their underlying concerns. Once you have a solid understanding of their point of view, share your own concerns with your counterpart. The two of you can then transform your relationship into one that is a problem-solving duo. When you are both on the same side approaching the problem, negotiation should become seamless because you are working toward a win-win outcome. This style generally produces the best outcomes unless your negotiating partner is a Soviet-style rat-for-tat operator who only believes in zero-sum outcomes. If this is the case find a new partner. No one wants to have a long term relationship with someone that is only out for themselves.
It is hard to suggest not knowing the subject matter. It sounds like the partnership is more important to you than to him.
A generic way to negotiate is to communicate and not negotiate, meaning forget about give and take for awhile. First try to convince the other party that your idea is really his idea. I believe this can bring you to the next stage.