Negotiation Skills 3 – Problem Solving Strategy

We will offer you the fifty million Naira, train your late colleague’s children to university level but we are also going to build a good school in your community and a Youth Development Center, where the youths can learn some major skills. It was their next meeting and that was his proposal. That wasn’t all, but he held back his last piece that would be the icing on the cake in case they refused this. The youth President and secretary both looked at each other.

Femi used that opportunity to push further, hoping they will reason with him, “we care about the growth of your community that’s why we accepted to do this project at that price in the first place. Since it has gotten to this we can as well channel our resources to doing more for the community, we are spending almost what you are requesting for, but we are just making sure you and the community benefit from it, not some people with a political and financial interest. Don’t let people who are already living in wealth and affluence, influence you to fight. You and your children will benefit from this, look outside the immediate benefit. See us as a friend who is here to serve you, we still have lots of good things to do together.’

The youth President made good use of Silence now as a weapon. He didn’t say anything this time as Femi wondered what was on his mind, someone must have taught him well. Silence is a strategy used in negotiation to get your opponents worried and make them want to offer more. They were contacted by a law firm barely two days after the last meeting. The community was threatening to go to court. Femi knew a court case will not favour the organization.

“Were you going to add something?” the youth President asked him. Femi was caught off guard, he didn’t see that question coming, these guys came better prepared than he thought, unlike the last meeting. “We are also offering employment opportunities to the qualified ones among you,” Femi said. Again, all he got was a long silence from the Youth President, who looked at him keenly. What was he thinking, what made him think this angry youth would listen to him? His thoughts were confirmed when the Youth President and his comrades left the meeting without a word to him. He was perplexed.

He had approached Dr Ikenna Williams and sought his advice almost five years after graduation. “I can’t remember you, but I am happy to know you are doing well and putting what you learnt into practice. This is the type I call “Critical Negotiation” The ignorant youths are being masterminded by some greedy politicians. Going to court is not in your best interest, it can take years and the project will suffer delay or even taken from you and awarded to another. So, take the game back to them, advice the youths on the benefit of accepting your terms, but step up your game, offer more, build a lasting relationship with them, use this opportunity to eternalize your organization in that community. They are not your
adversaries, but your friends you need the relationship to work.”

“Femi hope you know you are at disadvantage here? Your competitors are waiting for you to fail. I think you should take Dr Ikenna’s advice”. Experience has taught him to always listen to Anita, his girlfriend of two years, because beneath her oblong face and tiny lips lies a wealth of knowledge. Adversarial strategy means you are looking for evidence to win this case, that is war.

“Go back to the M.D and tell him to tell the management to push the offer to One Hundred and fifty million, the reputation and life Span of the company is almost depending on this”. One of his committee members Mrs Ekpo, came to his office to offer her advice and personal opinion, “offer them more and avoid their trouble. They can cause more harm to the organization.”

Femi was not too happy with how the meeting ended; he struggled with how to give the MD feedback. The management wants results, so does he? It was so discouraging. He knew, if he wanted to make a success out of this situation, he needed to maintain a positive attitude.

What would you do in Femi’s shoes? How else do you think he should go about this situation to have a win-win situation? Kindly drop a comment.

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