O conceito de cérebro trino oferece elementos para termos melhor controle de nossos sentimentos, usando-os em benefício de negociações - tão comuns em compras.

Triune Brain: improving purchasing Negotiations

Understanding how our brains work can simplify the way we negotiate or positively transform our interactions with other people.

The concept of the Triune Brain, developed in the 60’s, broadens our knowledge of this body, still so little understood, and offers the opportunity for development in the work environment, including for the purchasing professional – always involved in negotiations connected with several different interlocutors.

What is the Triune Brain, anyway?

The Triune Brain is a model formulated by neurosurgeon Paul D. MacLean based on the division of the human brain into three distinct regions, and organizing itself in a hierarchy based on its evolution. The regions are:

1. Primal or Reptilian Brain

As the name suggests, this brain part is also found in reptiles and controls the body’s vital functions, and is also responsible for our survival instincts. It warns us, for example, of our basic functions such as when we are hungry, cold, hot or thirsty.

Located in the brain stem, in the place where the spinal cord accesses the skull, the primitive (or inferior) brain governs our five primary feelings: anger, sadness, joy, disgust and surprise.

In a situation of danger the reptilian structure is awakened, releasing chemical substances to act instinctively, in defense of our self-preservation. When we lean our hand on a hot pot, for example, the automatic reaction is to push it away immediately – we act without thinking, something common when this brain is in charge.

But, besides primitive impulses, this brain is also related to habits and procedural memory, like getting into the car and starting to drive automatically, without having to think about every step that involves this action. The repetition leads to the recognition that the action is safe.

2. Limbic or Emotional Brain

Its location is exactly above the reptilian brain, that is, right in the middle of the Central Nervous System. The limbic (or middle) brain is the center of our emotions, memory and motivation.

By being activated it can raise the heart rate, increase oxygen consumption, preparing our body to fight or escape from some situation it perceives as dangerous. It can also trigger stress, one of the biggest problems faced in the workplace – whether at the office or working from home.

When we receive a disturbing message or see shocking news, for example, the limbic system is triggered, leading to an emotional experience before the occurrence.

3. Rational or Intelligent Brain

The intelligent brain is a younger cerebral part, constituted by the neocortex, and is responsible for all the conscious activities of superior order: language, reasoning, imagination, creativity, abstract thought, etc.

Located just behind the forehead, the rational (or superior) brain also concentrates a good part of our biographical and automatic memory – essential so that we can talk, write or calculate, among other actions. Responding to the perception of time and context, inhibition of inappropriate actions, generates understanding and empathy, and thus governs the way we conduct our interpersonal relationships and allows us to live in society.

That is, in any situation in which we use our reason the intelligent brain is activated, without involving other brain structures. A good example is when we face professional challenges, and seek the best solutions for each situation.

However, it is important to stress, the rational brain can go offline in threatening situations (real or imaginary), giving way to the limbic system, the first to respond when the goal is to maintain our security.

Triune Brain can improve purchasing negotiations

The concept of the Triune Brain can be used to improve the performance of the purchasing sector because, just as it is possible to develop essential skills for the professional to act in the digital age, it is also possible to better understand the functioning of this system to improve the work routine, as well as to obtain a better negotiation.

Well studied and applied, it can become a form of self-knowledge and be used to “map” better the people with whom we relate – in personal and professional life – even at the moment of negotiation.

As we have seen, our rational (or intelligent) brain is responsible for governing our behavior rationally, inhibiting the primitive impulses of our reptilian brain whenever they arise and prove inadequate.

If during a negotiation a primitive feeling arises, such as anger, for example, it is a sign that the reptilian brain is in command, giving flow to the irrational side.

It is worth remembering that we all carry emotional histories that can be unintentionally awakened by another person. Like the feeling of sadness or joy that comes to the surface, unconsciously, because of a gesture or perfume from someone present at the meeting – that is, many times the sensation awakened was not premeditated.

At such times the best way forward is to work on this sensation in a rational way, trying to understand why it has arisen and thinking about the harm it may offer if it is not mastered. And, of course, it must be replaced by a civilized and positive behavior, coming from the rational brain.

One way to achieve this effect is to go out for a drink of water or ask for the conversation to be postponed to another occasion – if it is possible to postpone – and especially to breathe deeply: this action better oxygenates the neocortex and helps it function.

In fact, it is always possible to make a choice: give in to the primitive impulses and desires of the reptilian brain or use the intelligent (or rational) brain to control them, and obtain the best results in personal and professional life, no matter how challenging the moment may be.

The three distinct brains, which emerged as we evolved and now coexist, do not operate independently: they influence each other. The balance between them will allow us to maintain harmonious relationships, regulate impulses and maintain the right behavior in the most varied situations – like the moment of an important negotiation in the purchasing department.

The concept of the Trine Brain comes to add to other information that can turn the game when negotiating – an essential task for the purchasing department. And exactly because it’s so important, we suggest reading our content on negotiation. Access and improve your techniques:

Advanced trading: prepare for better results

Using emotion for better negotiation

Get to know BATNA, Harvard’s advanced negotiation method

A estratégia competitiva, baseada em estudos de Michael Porter, pode aliviar  dificuldades nos negócios, desde que aplicada de modo efetivo no contexto atual.

The role of Strategic Force’s in Procurement 4.0

Competitive strategy, or Strategic Force, is a concept that allows the identification of the competitiveness and profitable potential of a business.

Since 1979, with the publication of an article entitled “How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy” by Michael E. Porter, the definition has been explored in the business world.

Read below and learn more about this concept and its application in Procurement 4.0.

What is Strategic Force?

Professor at the renowned Harvard Business School, in the areas of Administration and Economics, Michael Porter, who is also the author of several books on competitiveness strategies, developed the concept he called Strategic Force.

According to him, there are five competitive forces that determine the potential profitability of an industry or sector of activity. For Porter, the state of competition in a sector depends on five basic forces, as outlined below:

Strategic Force graph for the purchase department

With this model, describing strengths in sectors and identifying competitive strengths becomes easier for purchasing and supply chain professionals. Let’s look at the most important points of Michael Porter’s five strengths:

Strength 1 – Intensity of competitive rivalry

Competition allows professionals in the purchasing and supply chain industries to analyze the speed of growth in the industry.

That is why it is important to use strategies to accompany the growth of competitors, without leaving aside the evolution of the product in the market. To analyze the strength of the competition, try to answer the following questions:

  • How many competitors does your company have?
  • Who are these competitors?
  • What is the quality of the products and services they offer?
  • Comparing the competitor’s products with yours, what are the competitor’s strengths and weaknesses?

This information will allow you to identify the level of rivalry and develop a plan that includes price and marketing campaigns, for example. If the competition is very intense, discounts and advertising should be more aggressive, but with little competitive rivalry, your brand is likely to have more space and higher profits.

Strength 2 – Threat of new participants

It refers to the likelihood that your customers will find a different way to get the products and/or services you offer.

Imagine a company that offers a unique solution for automating an important process, with a wide portfolio of customers. If, over time, your customers find it more advantageous to outsource the services than to purchase the tool, there will be a real threat to the profitability of the organization.

That’s why it’s so important to be able to monitor new market participants, and understand their innovation processes and technology to improve their products and services.

Strength 3 – Threat of substitute products or services

Evaluate constantly: can your position be affected by the ability of other companies to enter your market? Is it easy to get a position in your industry? What is the cost for this – high, low, medium?

It is essential to have the ability to do this analysis, and identify ways to diversify or optimize the product/service that is already offered. Thus, it is possible to remain in alignment with market demands, without giving gaps for “substitute products” to be inserted in the market by rival companies.

Strength 4 – Consumer bargaining power

The questions to identify the bargaining level of your buyers are: How many customers does my company have and how big are their orders? Would it be difficult for them to stop acquiring my products and services and seek a competitor? Is the strength my customers have enough to influence my company and products?

The answers to these questions will determine whether or not your customers have the strength to lower their prices or change the products/services offered.

Strength 5 – bargaining power of suppliers

In this last strength, the power of suppliers and the possibility of increasing prices are considered. Try answering: Who and how many are your suppliers? Is what they offer something exclusive? How much would it cost to change suppliers?

Of course, the fewer suppliers you have and the more dependent your company is on them, the greater the risk you run of higher prices being charged – which could affect your profit margin.

On this issue, we suggest reading this article which shows the benefits offered by companies specialized in the purchase of indirect materials, among them, the ability to interact quickly with suppliers around the world, which helps you obtain better prices in negotiations.

Strategic Force in Procurement 4.0

The Global SciQuest 2017 Survey, conducted by Cision PR Newswire with over 500 purchasing professionals, revealed that the sector is evolving and is increasingly important to organizational strategy. Among the information obtained by the survey, we highlight:

  • 25% of the professionals believe that purchasing is a profit center in their companies;
  • 72% said they are accessing data to have greater visibility of the supplier and thus conduct their business decisions;
  • 67% of purchasing professionals said they expect greater recognition for the sector, as there is a requirement for purchasing to offer savings and value to their organizations.

And if the scope of the work is evolving to become increasingly strategic, the concept born at Harvard shows itself to be extremely advantageous for the 4.0 purchasing department.

The analysis and application of Michael Porter’s theory in the sector allows it, among other benefits, to examine the current status of the sector, pinpoint its strengths and competitive forces; identify and minimize risks related to suppliers; observe and understand the market, including competition.

Methods that extend the intelligence of the procurement industry are indeed welcome. Among them the optimization of the purchasing process, through the services of a company specialized in acquiring indirect materials.

This is the case of Soluparts, which has access to over 15,000 brands around the world and therefore offers the best commercial conditions and greater security in the purchase of indirect materials for your company.

Try our services: request a quote!

Técnica de negociação avançada desenvolvida pela Harvard Business School pode aumentar a performance do seu negócio com dicas simples. Leia o artigo e como entenda!

Meet BATNA, Harvard’s Advanced Negotiation Method

Answer quickly: how many times have you left a meeting with a client or supplier with the feeling that the agreement reached was not ideal for your business? If this happened more times than you would like to admit, the time has come to meet BATNA, an advanced negotiation method developed by Harvard Business School that will change this outlook. Learn more!

What is BATNA, anyway?

Developed by professors Bruce Patton, Roger Fisher and Willian L. Ury, the BATNA method was first described in the bestseller “Getting to Yes”, launched in 1981 and considered by executives around the world as one of the most important negotiation guides in the corporate environment.

BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), in general terms defines its “plan B”, or what needs to be done to get around an unfavorable situation and reach the best possible result, if there is no chance of reaching the agreement initially imagined for the negotiation.

Why is it important to have a well-defined BATNA?

Arriving at a negotiation with a customer or supplier without a clear notion of your BATNA can bring serious harm to your business.

This is because ignoring this advanced negotiation technique increases exponentially the chances that you expose the company to unnecessary financial risk, either by rejecting an agreement that should have been accepted or, on the contrary, by signing a contract that should have been rejected due to the anxiety of closing a deal.

To prevent this from happening, it is essential to go to the meeting with a clear vision not only of your aspirations regarding the results of what is being negotiated – that is, what you consider your best result – but also of the limit of concessions you can make and, above which, you will need to reject an offer.

Advanced negotiation: how to evaluate my BATNA?

The definition of your business’ BATNA goes through 3 fundamental stages:

1. Evaluate your options

Gather your team, evaluate the situation that will be negotiated and think about all possible scenarios: which points will be easily negotiated, which items can lead to an impasse, which ones will hardly be accepted by the other side?

Then build the possible solutions, because it is important to have a clear notion of your alternatives beyond what was initially thought.

Making an honest assessment of the possible options in case you don’t achieve the expected terms, besides taking a huge pressure off that moment, prevents you from making decisions on an emotional basis and that may represent little advantageous solutions for your business. [link to article Using emotion for better trading after publication]

2. Establish your BATNA

With the available options in mind, it is possible to establish your BATNA, that is, the one that would be your best option if it is not possible to obtain the performance initially expected.

When establishing your BATNA, it is important to also consider the other side of the negotiation and think about the BATNA of your interlocutor. In other words, you may wonder if, in case the client or supplier does not close the contract with you, what would be his best option?

Obviously, it is important not to answer this question based on assumptions about the other side. One of the fundamental premises of this advanced negotiation technique is to do an in-depth research about your interlocutor and the scenario in which they are inserted, so that your BATNA can be established on a safer basis.

Pro Tip: In addition to information about the other party, it is essential to update in relation to the global market. Therefore, we indicate 3 important readings on the subject:

  1. How Slowbalisation affects the Supply Chain
  2. The second wave of Industry 4.0
  3. Incoterms 2020 – for buyers.

3. Calculate your reserve value

With BATNA established, you can also define your reserve value, that is, the limit where the negotiation is no longer interesting for your company and that it is not possible to cross.

This is the value that defines the deal breaker, the issue (or a set of issues) that one of the parties to a transaction considers essential to its interests and, therefore, cannot be abdicated. These points are usually left until the end of discussions, when other items are already advanced.

In simple words, you can establish the exact moment when you need to leave the negotiating table, since advancing would mean signing a contract that is disadvantageous to your company.

It is important to understand, however, that defining your reserve value in a negotiation is quite different from setting a target. This is because, as you already know, the first is the minimum acceptable value for that to be a viable deal, while the second is the value you are willing to arrive at for the transaction to be considered a success.

Would you like to better understand what BATNA is and how it can help you improve your performance in dealing with customers and suppliers? Then take the opportunity to read other articles on advanced negotiation techniques on our blog and learn more about the subject!

Advanced Negotiation: Prepare yourself for better results
Resolving Conflicts in Negotiations

After reading, if you would like to continue the conversation, we are at your service!

Um programa de Compliance bem estruturado está entre os principais meios para evitar fraudes no departamento de compras. Mas, também, oferece outros benefícios!

Compliance benefits in the purchasing department

The concept of Compliance, already known in the corporate scenario, aims to adapt companies to legal and ethical rules that guarantee values such as transparency in business relations and procedures. It is also very effective to detect and treat possible frauds, deviations or non-conformities that may happen in the company. 

But what about compliance in the purchasing department? What are its benefits? That is the subject of this article 

Fraud in the purchasing sector 

Among other responsibilities, it is up to the industry to judge the best proposals for the supply of materials, as well as to choose which suppliers will be hired. 

By moving varying amounts of money, these negotiations can open up gaps for unofficial agreements – where the choice falls on the supplier that offers some kind of benefit. To investigate this scenario, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) conducted a Global Survey on Economic Crimes – Brazil. 

According to the study by the consulting and auditing services company, 44% of the companies that were victims of economic crimes in Brazil suffered fraud in the purchasing process. The survey also found that 69% of the victims detected fraud during the selection of the supplier, 63% in their hiring and 56% in the invitation to participate in bidding processes. 

In addition, the survey pointed out the “opportunity” as the main factor to contribute to the criminal practice, since people who commit fraud usually know very well the existing regulations and know how to cheat them, which makes essential the existence of clear policies and training programs focused on ethics. 

Continuing with the data, 64% of criminal attacks are committed by people who work in the company’s purchasing department. “When the fraudster is inside the company, his profile is balanced between middle management and team members, both slices with 39%. Members of the executive management account for only 17% of cases,” the survey found. 

These data are ratified by Cláudio Marcelo Rodrigues Cordeiro, in his work “Internal and operational auditing: fundamentals, concepts and practical applications”, published in 2013. According to Cordeiro, fraud can occur when basic conditions such as intention, opportunity, insufficient internal control, weakness of an ethical policy associated with a weak code of conduct and risk inherent to the activity coexist. 

Importance of Compliance in the Purchasing Department 

The lack of compliance of the company’s performance both with the legislation and with its internal policies of good practices, regulations and codes of conduct may result in serious damages such as damage to the image of the company and its reputation in the market, compromise of the company’s results and, in more serious cases, criminal proceedings. 

According to the author of the book “Compliance in Brazil: Consolidation and Perspectives (2008)”, Vanessa Alessi Manzi, four fundamental preventive and detective controls are required in a Compliance program: 

  • Establish a code of ethics for the organization; 
  • Develop professionals in the capacity to deal with ethical dilemmas; 
  • Create channels for identifying unethical conduct; 
  • Enabling the discussion of ethical dilemmas. 

The author emphasizes that Compliance programs are not able to fully prevent illicit acts from occurring. However, risk management allows identifying, assessing, monitoring, recommending and reporting risks and combating them quickly. 

Compliance in the purchasing department 

Below are some practices that will help maintain compliance in the purchasing industry. 

1- Creating a Compliance Program 

The study by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) pointed out that the most effective means of combating fraud is the prevention and mitigation of in-process risks and methods. In other words, the existence of a Compliance program in the purchasing department, establishing a code of conduct, training programs that involve ethical values and disseminate the established standards is essential. In addition to a channel for employees to report what they are seeing wrong, without having to identify themselves. 

The main topics for creating a Compliance program in procurement are: 

  • Comply with existing laws, regulations and standards; 
  • Create a set of standards of conduct and ethical principles that are known to employees; 
  • Have clear and precise internal procedures and rules – to be obeyed by the entire team; 
  • Create reports that generate information and make the purchasing process transparent throughout the organization; 
  • Assist external and internal auditors offering all the items requested in an agile manner. 

2- Frequent Audits 

In addition to preventive controls and fraud detection, periodic audits are also a good tool within the Compliance culture in the purchasing department. These audits can: 

  • Avoid exchanging inappropriate favors or gifts between purchasing professionals and suppliers; 
  • Ensure proper control by preventing laws from being circumvented – even unconsciously; 
  • Verify that what is established in the contract is being duly fulfilled by the supplier; 
  • Observe if the business partners also follow compliance principles. 

During the audit the entire acquisition process is evaluated. The user’s request (requirement, quantity and urgency), vendor selection, quotation, negotiation, order closing, physical receipt, storage. In addition to greater transparency, the audit allows improvement in the work of the sector. 

3- Process standardization 

This is a way to reduce loopholes for illicit acts that harm the company. Standardization will also allow the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the procurement process, identifying actions that lead to the continuous improvement of the Compliance process in the purchasing department – thus, the company will always be up to date with the changes that have occurred in the current legal norms. 

The standardization of processes requires the structuring and documentation of activities in an archive that will be made available to the procurement team, who will be able to consult it in case they have any doubts or questions. 

4- Partnership with suppliers who practice compliance 

Make sure your suppliers meet specific ethical and transparency requirements and are qualified to maintain a business relationship with your organization. This verification process should be constant, also evaluating performance, and the supplier companies that prove more reliable should have priority in future negotiations. 

This verification can be done with the monitoring of each of the suppliers in meetings, via social networks or verifying the mission and values of the company, for example. 

The implementation of a Compliance program minimizes the possibility of illicit acts in the purchasing department and, in case of such occurrences, fights them more quickly. 

In this process, good supplier management is essential. And the most practical way is to have a company specialized in spare parts. 

Experienced in purchasing industrial materials – and with offices in Brazil, Germany, Portugal, Hong Kong and the United States – Soluparts has access to thousands of international products and suppliers. 

Experience the advantages of having a team specialized in indirect purchases, by requesting a quotation right now! 

Fizemos uma seleção com filmes que vão divertir e melhorar a performance do profissional de compras. Aproveite o tempo livre em casa para aprender e espairecer!

5 movies that every purchasing professional should watch

What could be better than watching a good movie? Watching the movie and, on top of that, improving our performance at work!

With that in mind we made a list of 5 unmissable movies for the shopping professional’s routine – and that can be seen in good company, making better use of your time at home.

Prepare your popcorn, have fun and expand your knowledge!

1. 12 Angry Men (1957)

A classic movie with Henry Fonda as the lead character. It tells the story of a young Puerto Rican who goes on trial accused of killing his own father.  After the evidence is presented, twelve jurors meet to decide the sentence, which must be unanimous.

In the first round to reach the decision, eleven jurors – each based on their own convictions – decide on charging him as guilty. But the 12th, Mr. Davis (Fonda), is not convinced of the boy’s guilt and starts a process where he will try to get the other members of the jury to review their decision.

Reflections provoked by the film

Even though he is a minority, Mr. Davis persists in presenting his point of view to the other participants in the group.

Controlling his emotions even when harassed by other people participating in the “negotiation” and using arguments to guide his point of view, he does not try to impose his opinion. His tactic is to get other people to consider other options in addition to the idea originally conceived.

Another point that deserves to be highlighted is that the protagonist is open to consider other opinions, as long as they are accompanied by good arguments. In other words, he has no intention of making his own prevail, but defends it in a respectful and intelligent way.

To have more details of the negotiation techniques used by the character and, mainly, to know the verdict, check out the film – it is certainly an excellent tool for the purchasing professional to evaluate his way of negotiating and even improve it to get better results.

2. Up in the Air (2009)

It tells the story of an executive, lived by George Clooney, who travels around the United States with the task of firing employees of multinational companies.

Ryan Bingham, Clooney’s character name, loves his work. However, his professional routine is put on the spot when his company hires the young Natalie Keener (played by Anna Kendrick), who has developed a dismissal process through videoconference, without the need for expensive travel.

Reflections provoked by the film

The clash between traditional and new management is represented very well by the protagonist’s struggle to defend his way of working, in some aspects already outdated, from the changes provided by technological transformation.

As the procurement sector is often guided by more traditional work models, the procurement professional has the opportunity to reflect on the importance of remaining open to change, reaping the benefits that transformation provides.

The difficulty of teamwork and communication are also explored in the film, where both characters wish to impose their point of view. Only when one starts to try to see the situation from the other’s perspective, do they start to respect each other and learn from each other’s experience.

3. Bridge of Spies (2015)

Based on a true story, the film features Tom Hanks and English actor Mark Rylance (Oscar-winning supporting actor for this role).

In 1957, in the midst of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, lawyer James Donovan (Hanks) is in charge of defending Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Rylance) in an American court and convinces the judge to leave him alive to serve as a bargaining chip, should any American be arrested in Soviet territory.

A few years later, the lawyer is invited to negotiate the exchange between the Russian spy and an American and  to top it off, try to free an American student, imprisoned in East Berlin.

Reflections provoked by the film

When the lawyer was invited to defend the spy from the enemy country, everyone believed he would make a symbolic defense. However, he prepared himself for the clash and was able to identify an argument strong enough to have a turn at the “negotiating table”.

Not only did he surprise the others involved, who were so confident in winning they didn’t prepare themselves to negotiate, but he also demonstrated his negotiating value to the point of being called to an even more important and complex negotiation (because of the conflicts involved) in the future.

The movie portairs the perfect negotiation planning class, including listening to other people in the team to outline the ideal strategy and to have a “plan B”, always aiming for the best possible result.

4. Invictus (2009)

Another film based on facts. It touches on the power of leadership to solve conflicts and unite a team.

After the end of Apartheid, newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) needs to find ways to lead a South Africa that remains racially and economically divided.

To do this, he chooses the universal language of sports and joins forces with Rugby Captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) to unite all South Africans in favor of the national team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Reflections provoked by the film

After successive governments in which the rights of the black population have been repressed, the great leader Mandela does not think about revenge. Even under pressure from some members of his team, he opts for the path of pacification.

Often it is necessary to coexist, within the team itself, with individuals who have different ideas and even different behaviors. A leader is not afraid to keep at his side people with opposing points of view, he takes the best from each one, always aiming at a greater and collective good.

The film reinforces the importance of loyalty and commitment, revealing that in order for you to create a good team, including professionals in the purchasing sector, good leadership is needed.

Another very interesting aspect is the presence of two types of leaders: the born leader (Mandela) and one who is being molded to face a complex situation – in this case, the rugby captain.

5. The Social Network (2010)

It reveals what happened behind-the-scenes of the creation of Facebook, in 2003, by computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), with the help of Brazilian Eduardo Saverin – making the American the world’s youngest billionaire.

The film also shows the personal and legal complications that occurred during the process that transformed the social network into one of the largest on the planet.

Reflections provoked by the film

The new media, which emerged with the digital transformation, has changed the way people interact, communicate and even work – working from home has proven to be a good option for many companies.

It’s a good way to understand the impact of powerful social networks today and how they can be used to benefit business – such as researching a supplier’s reputation and improving internal communication, for example.

So, did you like the suggested stories? Did you miss any movies you’ve watched and that have contributed to your training as a procurement professional? Send us your suggestion and we’ll expand our list!

A incompatibilidade de interesses e necessidades é muito comum em negociações. Dominar técnicas de negociação, permitirá prevenir e lidar com essas situações.

Resolving conflicts in negotiation

Conflicts can arise during a negotiation and means to resolve them must be found. But what is the best strategy to achieve positive results for the negotiating parties? Check out this post and find out!

Identifying the difficulties of negotiation

We can define conflict as the lack of understanding between two (or more) parties, causing tension on at least one side involved in the negotiation process.

There are two ways of looking at conflicts when it comes to negotiation. The first is to think that it is harmful and that the people who produce it are emotionally disturbed. The other way is to see it as an opportunity to work to minimize losses and maximize gains for all.

For those who want to do well in a negotiation that involves different opinions, only the second view on the subject is possible. But before resolving a disagreement, it is necessary to know whether it is an affective or a conflict of perspective, teaches the negotiation teacher, Paulo A. Alves de Almeida (PUC/MG), who has among his students many professionals from the purchasing department.

An Affective Conflict involves interpersonal incompatibility among negotiators, making it difficult to exchange information and causing the energy of understanding to be directed towards solving people’s problems rather than seeking solutions for business.

But in a Conflict of Perspective there is a disagreement of thought among the elements that are participating in the negotiation, which is natural, after all, each individual has his own ideas and perceives reality in a particular way.

William Ury, founder of Harvard University’s School of Negotiation, says that conflict is natural and will always exist, and it is up to the negotiator to find ways to overcome it.

But the expert also says it is a mistake to believe that good negotiators are born ready. For him, to be successful in a negotiation that involves conflict is something you learn, and for that he gives the first tip: before influencing someone, you must influence and dominate yourself!

Solving conflicts in a negotiation

This is an essential point in a negotiation: the participants must be able to persuade and modify each other’s ideas. How can this be done? Follow the tips that follow – they are very useful for those working in the purchasing department.

  1. Overcome interpersonal conflict

By considering each other opponents, there is no chance for dialogue and the negotiation will not progress. The negotiator should focus on resolving the deal, preventing personal feelings from being a part of the negotiating table.

The Harvard professor says that a classic mistake in negotiation is to think that being soft on people means being soft on the problem. Or the opposite: to imagine that a firm approach to the problem requires being tough on people.

According to the expert, what successful negotiators do is separate people from the issue discussed so that they can be calm with people while remaining firm about the problem.

In addition, if you notice that other members of the group have this kind of disagreement, you cannot get involved in the situation or take sides. The best way out is to value opinions, creating space for all group members to express themselves.

When all participants have the perception that their opinions have been listened to in a respectful way, even without being adopted, there is a feeling of collective responsibility for the final decisions.

  1. Find similar points

No matter how different the opinion of people who are taking part in the negotiations is, there will always be at least one point in common. And you have to identify it before they are camouflaged by differences.

The negotiator must therefore find the similar points of the two parties and start the conversation on this item and gradually introduce the disagreements.

Another important point is to take the initiative in the negotiation because, according to experts in this field, those who have this attitude can have greater control of the situation, increasing the chances of success – those who work in the purchasing department need to know this.

  1. Know how to deal with problems

Preparing for uncomfortable situations can help the negotiator deal with them, when (and if) they happen – at such times, it is essential to control anxiety and maintain balance.

One way to overcome a conflict is to apply the active listening technique. Also known as empathetic listening or reflective listening, it consists of listening and responding to the other party in a truly understanding way, capturing not only the words (verbal language), but also their feelings, manifested by gestures, posture and even looks (non-verbal language).

Calling the person by name, using the same tone and volume to the other party and always being very polite are simple attitudes that help to establish greater interaction and closeness.

The active listening technique allows you to:

  • Increase trust and mutual respect;
  • Release emotions and reduce tension;
  • Encourage participants to disclose information;
  • Create a safe environment for problem solving.
  1. Act as a mediator

In complex negotiations, the way out for conflict resolution can be to act as a mediator. This is one of the concepts taught in the Harvard Negotiation class by Professor William Ury.

What he calls the third side is a negotiator who, even though they have interests in the issue to be resolved, manages to advocate for the interests of all. In order for this to work, however, this negotiator must be trusted from both sides, otherwise they will not be able to establish themselves as a mediator.

A well-conducted negotiation leads to the difficulties being overcome, allowing everyone to be sure in the end that they have been heard and that the decision was the best possible one for all parties.

However, it is worth noting that it is not only the result of the transaction that should be considered, but the way the process was conducted. If in the course of the transaction there was an exchange of concessions between the parties, the necessary balance was established so that everyone felt comfortable and left the process satisfied – and ready for future negotiations based on mutual respect.

If you want to know more advanced negotiation techniques, it is worth knowing other relevant tips that we have prepared to help you get the best results. Click, read and perfect your way of negotiating:

Advanced Negotiation: prepare yourself for great results
Usando a emoção para uma melhor negociação

Using emotions for a better negotiation

Our emotions influence every aspect of life. However, both in our personal and professional lives, keeping our emotions and feelings in check can be a great challenge.

When we talk about the workplace, controlling your emotions becomes fundamental in order to pursue a successful career and in some sectors it must be even greater. This is the case, for example, in the purchasing department, where negotiation processes are common, which demands a lot from professionals.

In this article, we will bring useful information to use emotions in a positive way, which helps you to have better results in negotiations in general. Check it out!

Feelings at the Negotiating Table

Until recently, emotion was considered an obstacle to reaching constructive agreements. But this concept is changing, and now it is suggested that controlling emotion in negotiation can bring positive results.

In the book Building Agreement: Using Emotions as You Negotiate, Daniel Shapiro and Roger Fisher develop the idea that it is possible for the negotiator to stimulate positive emotions and overcome negative ones by showing appreciation and valuing the other party’s membership, autonomy, status and position.

For the authors, the advantage of aknowledging and knowing how to deal with these emotional dimensions is that they can be explored with the aim of understanding each party’s expectations, helping to create a more positive bargaining environment.

As we can see, negotiating depends a lot on the influence of emotions. This is because the successful negotiator needs to have good persuasive and oratory resources, but he also needs to have the perception and control of his feelings.

Studying principles of negotiation, researchers Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan and Gerald Clore of the University of Virginia used the phone to ask questions about life satisfaction. Fun Fact: Half of the participants answered the question on a sunny day and the other on a rainy day.

Participants who were contacted on a rainy day showed less satisfaction with life than participants who received calls on a sunny day. But when the scholars began the conversation asking, “How is the weather there?” Participants in a rainy condition responded as positively as those who were experiencing a sunny day.

Why did this happen? Simple: by recognizing the bad weather, the respondents turned off the impact of the rain when assessing their satisfaction with life.

The study therefore demonstrated that negative emotional triggers had to be turned off before negotiations could take place.

Controlling emotions in negotiation

In general, everyone is able to control the way they express their emotions, but there is one strategy that helps to take advantage of this control: control your feelings! In this way, it will be possible to disguise or emphasize an emotion, according to need and moment.

In this aspect, it is essential to prepare in advance for the negotiation. For example, if there is a setback on the way to the meeting, or if you walk into the room and encounter someone you had a confrontational relationship with, these situations must be worked through before you begin to negotiate – that is, in practice, to deactivate the negative emotional triggers!

How to do this? Ask permission to go to the bathroom and take the opportunity to work on your breathing (take a deep, paused breath a few times), do a quick relaxation or meditation, call someone who has the ability to calm you down and give you confidence, etc.

Now, if you notice that the other side has negative emotions related to the negotiation, try to create a bridge with the source of those feelings. It is possible to identify this non-positive reaction through the individual’s speech, but also through body expression, as illustrated by FGV teachers Yann Duzert and Ana Tereza Spínola, in the area of Business Management: contracted lips and eyebrows lowered and joined (means anger), touching the nails or the eyebrow as a sign of impatience.

Questions such as “hard day?” or “how was your journey here?”, aside from creating empathy, can be the starting point to minimize the influence of negative emotions during discussions.

Harvard Business School assistant professor Alison Wood Brooks explains some of the feelings that can appear at a negotiation table: “The most common emotion to appear before the process begins or during the early stages is anxiety. We are more likely to show irritation or excitement in the heat of discussions. And disappointment, sadness or grief often appear especially in the final stages of negotiation”.

All these feelings can be controlled and taken to a more advantageous side during the negotiation process, as explained by Alison, who teaches negotiation in MBA and executive education courses and is a member of the behavioral insights group.

According to her, a useful strategy to reduce anxiety is to invite an outside expert to articulate the negotiation, as these people have less personal interest in the job and can demonstrate more controlled skills.

Anger can arise from the general tendency to view negotiations in competitive, and not collaborative terms. But this feeling, according to the teacher, is not all bad. Demonstrating anger in a controlled way can make people appear stronger and more powerful, which increases their self-confidence.

But if the tension is exaggerated, pressing the pause button is a good strategy. After calming the spirits, the meeting can be resumed in a more productive way.

However, there is a line that divides irritation from disappointment. And that second emotion can already be more damaging when demonstrated at the negotiating table. One of the factors that can cause disappointment is the very fast speed of the process, which brings the feeling that more could have been done. The most obvious way to reduce the likelihood of disappointment is to act calmly and thoughtfully and, if there are any doubts, ask pertinent questions to make sure you have explored all possible alternatives.

As for joy and excitement, Alison says that in certain situations showing these feelings can generate disappointment in the other party. The best negotiators make great deals for you, but make your opponents believe that they too have made a fabulous deal.

And so we come to the last two tips about emotions in negotiations:

  1. Have respect for others, not letting your excitement make your interlocutors feel like losers;
  2. Be skeptical and don’t let your excitement turn into overconfidence, damaging future negotiations.

Emotions are inherent to conflict and play a positive role in decision-making, creativity and relationship building, such as those involving negotiation.

Want more information on advanced negotiation techniques? Check out another article we have produced on the subject: Advanced Negotiation: Prepare yourself for great results