One of the places where a negotiation may go awry is communication. It is very easy to make a mistake, ignore something important, misunderstand, or feel deceived. It is just as typical for the person on the other side of the metaphoric negotiating table to do the same. Poor communication is the most common thing in the world while very good communication takes some work.
As stated in Negotiating Your Investments , after more than two decades of study I have conclude that communication mistakes are the single biggest area in which negotiations go wrong. The good news is that, by making the effort to strengthen this element, you have an opportunity for tremendous improvement. You will see a direct correlation between better communication and better outcomes in your negotiation efforts.
So often, though, the fault for lousy communication seems to lie with the other folks. Usually it is not me but, rather, my partner who has not been clear, sent double messages, caused a misunderstanding, or told outright lies. If the miscommunication is not a result of my bad acts, why should I have to take responsibility for it?
The answer is simple. If you want to be a highly successful negotiator, you must take ownership of the effectiveness of all communication. Your negotiation partners play a critical role in reaching the targeted end result – a deal that is good for you. To a great extent, they must succeed if you are to get that desirable bargain. Thus, it is in your best interest that everyone fully understands everything you want them to know. You should take ownership of the success of the communication process and, when it is wanting, you should to fix it. Even if it means going the extra mile to make sure they grasp everything fully.
Thinking about the typical attitude of many less skilled negotiators -that misunderstand is “their problem” to worry about- can highlight its danger. When an intoxicated driver misses a sign and starts going the wrong way on the highway, is it only their problem? The lady in the shoe store bizarrely thought I said I wanted two left shoes – sure I will eventually get a refund but is it only her problem? The mistake and subsequent miscommunication in the classic film “Dr. Strangelove” presumably end up in an earth destroying nuclear holocaust. Can anyone say of that disaster that it is some else’s problem?
Resolve to improve the quality and effectiveness of the communication. Not just yours but the other guy’s, as well. It is almost a certainty that you will be glad you did.