Practicing constructive project negotiation

Monday, May 19th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

All project managers will eventually face the need to negotiate. Large, multi-party projects mean you will eventually face opportunities to effectively work through challenges involving resources, team members or project sponsors. Negotiations are a common occurrence in business, but often they are also sources of frustration and anxiety for those involved. 

An unfortunate preconception of negotiations is that there will always be a "winner" and a "loser." With effective training, project managers will know what concrete actions to take during a negotiation that build principled, "win-win" agreements. Negotiations are not about competition. They are about getting the best possible solution to a particular delay, problem or business transaction.

Properly preparing for a negotiation is crucial for success. Negotiations can go south for a number of reasons, including egos or misunderstandings, but most often they falter because one party had not yet comprehensively reviewed their position.

Before walking into any negotiation, know what you hope to achieve from the talks, and consider what the other parties might require from your team. Talk to any involved superiors and see what concessions your company is prepared to make to reach an agreement. Having to check each proposal with higher management delays the progress and can frustrate both parties. 

A firm understanding of communication styles and bargaining tactics is an essential attribute of a good negotiator. Being able to separate the "problem" from the "people" is invaluable in defusing tensions and creating a sense of joint priorities. 

New Leaf Project Management's two-day training program "Constructive Project Negotiation"  will teach managers how successfully prepare for and conduct project negotiations. In addition, our free white papers and QPM games offer project managers the opportunities to earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

PMI®," PMP®," and "PMBOK®" are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

"QPM™" is a registered mark of New Leaf Project Management. All rights reserved.

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