August 1, 2010

Never Negotiate the SPIRIT of the Deal

Okay, so I am an organizational development geek, admittedly. But I want to share with you a moment in a meeting that I found so perfect, so clarifying, so break through the bull, because I promise you can use it immediately in just about any situation. Here it is: Before collaborating, and I use that term very loosely, be sure that all parties share the same spirit of the agreement to come.

Some examples:
Before you agree to co-host a bridal shower, be sure you both will share in all expenses and work involved. True Co-Hosting, Big C Big H. Or does the other person mean: she expects you to have it at your clean house, you to pay for the food and drink, you clean up the mess, handle RSVPs and she's just "helping where you need her". She'll "be there for you". Small c Small h.

Entering a business deal as partners on a project to a shared client. What does the term partnership mean? 50-50? 10-90? Both are perfectly acceptable, as long as it is clear from the beginning. 

What is the spirit of the deal?
What is the spirit of the collaboration?
Warning!! Warning!! If you are walking into the deal WITHOUT the same spirit, no matter what you  negotiate, there will be trouble ahead!!

In the meeting I was at, we were discussing a possible collaboration between two organizations with complementary missions coming together for a joint event. A collaborative effort. A partnership. One of the masterminds behind this plan said: "Before we sweat the details of this proposal to organization #2, let's make sure that they are open to the spirit of the deal. Organization #1 is in charge of and owns the overall event. Organization #2 will own a portion of the overall event". She was absolutely right in simplifying the approach. Be sure the spirit is agreeable before you commit to anything.

You've probably learned that a lack of communication up front can sour a deal later on. But this "spirit discussion" will bring clarity to all the little details along the way.

I wish I had learned this a long, long time ago. I could have saved myself from so many business regrets, not to mention cursing under my breath during bridal showers!

When you you get to the dirt of the deal, here's the best book yet on negotiating: You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen

1 comment:

  1. Thank You. Simple says it best, and I like the attitude of no beating around the bush. i agree 100%. I'm adopting this "Spirit" immediately.