Picture of  Deborah M. Osborne

Deborah M. Osborne

Athena Agreements’ founder Deborah M. Osborne is a certified negotiation and conflict resolution expert with 20+ years of experience and over 500 cases under her belt.

Relationships Matter in Business Negotiations: Five Reasons Why

Don’t believe the popular myth about negotiation, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” “Negotiation IS personal, not just business.”

Relationships matter in business negotiations.

HERE ARE FIVE reasons why

Each person in the negotiation influences its outcome.

1. Each person in the negotiation influences its outcome.

Will there be a deal or no deal? Is the offer worthwhile or can you negotiate for something better? The end result will depend on how well you negotiate with other people at the negotiation table and they with you.

2. By definition, negotiation is about a person getting something they desire that is under the control of somebody else.

We negotiate for better salaries, real estate, child custody, our movie choice, infrastructure siting and the price we pay for something into the billions of dollars. Relationships factor into how well we do in the negotiation.

3. Relationship-building is a key tactical element in negotiating win-wins.

Checking in with our counter-negotiator on how things are going during the negotiation increases trust and signals that we care about meeting the interests of the other side as long as our interests are also met.

4. Social bonding during negotiations humanizes the process—it’s not just business.

Exchanging pleasantries, small talk, and things we may have in common matter as well as symbolic communications and gestures of good-will. All help a negotiation succeed. Remember we are a social species. A smile, an elbow bump, and handshake reflect good intentions in most cultures. These primal, universal traits are positive adaptations deeply rooted in early Homo sapiens. They facilitated social bonding and widespread networks of alliances to maintain peace.

5. Attending to relationships person to person, business to business and culture to culture in negotiations builds bridges and partnerships.

In business negotiations, efficiency, success, profit and growth matter in addition to getting our immediate needs met. Business negotiations create a unique opportunity to build alliances and partnerships.

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