I was struggling with a concept this morning and a friend of mine sent me this quote: “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce.
Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments.
That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
So I thought to myself, well, this is sort of like when you are preparing to negotiate a business deal. You are painstakingly preparing your case, planning how to best structure your proposal so that you have a high probability of a successful outcome. During your planning you realize the other party may have reasons not to select you as their partner. If they decide not to choose your offering, what are their consequences of no agreement (CNA)? Do they have other options? Your competitors perhaps? Maybe they can decide to build what you offer on their own. They may even decide to simply do nothing, or at least, do nothing for now. They do have options. You, on the other hand, just lose the deal (and making your quota and the nice bonus attached to that, of course).
Isn't “just understanding” what the consequences of no agreement are critical to the negotiation process? We really cannot affect those other choices our customer has. There is absolutely nothing you can do about them because you do not control them. We can, however, understand them. Thoroughly understand them. And not only that, but make sure our customer understands them as well. We are always in a much better position to negotiate if we understand what everyone’s options are.