As CEO of Diadem Performance and author of ‘The Negotiation Book’, I understand better than most the importance of staying aligned as a team when you negotiate. As soon as you start negotiating within your own team, you risk the other party forcing cracks that will ultimately undermine your negotiating position. So as Theresa May meets with her new cabinet for the first time following the resignation of David Davis and Boris Johnson, I wanted to share with her my expert advice on how to negotiate successfully as a team.
Before the Negotiations
First things first you need to plan ahead – in negotiation forewarned really is forearmed! So it’s crucial for the lead negotiator to bring the rest of the negotiating team up to speed. Everyone in the team needs to know the different personalities and mindsets involved as well as the part they have to play to achieve success. Prepare for any curve balls that may come you way by sharing with your team any tactics that have been used in previous negotiations. You should also prepare signals that you can use during the negotiations to help you communicate with one another.
During the Negotiations
This may sound obvious but make sure you physically sit together so that you can work off the same preparation. You need to communicate with each other throughout the negotiation – all too often people see conferring with a member of their team as a sign of weakness and apologise saying, “sorry – can we just have a second.” Don’t be embarrassed – instead, be confident– after all why wouldn’t you confer with your team if it helps you negotiate in the best possible way? Remember to draw on your self-control and stick to your assigned negotiating roles. This way it is harder for the other party to force cracks between you and you are more likely to achieve your desired negotiating outcome.
After the Negotiations
After the meeting, make sure you take the time to review your ways of working. Ask yourself what worked well, what you would do differently and what you have learned about negotiating that you can take forward to your next meeting. Make sure any feedback is constructive and focuses on the way you work together as a team.
Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you really don’t agree with the direction the negotiations are heading and you’ve tried all you can to influence a change, it is then appropriate to take a stand and withdraw from the team. The resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson could clearly be a political move or they may have exhausted their influence.
I hope that by following these practical steps, Theresa May’s negotiating team will be able to re-group and collaborate so they can present a united front as they enter the next round in the Brexit negotiations.