It has been observed that one of the differences between the “street-wise” and the rest of us is that we often negotiate our way out of difficult circumstances while the street-wise rarely negotiate and will choose to either fight or flee.
Robert Mnookin has written a book, Bargaining with the Devil, that gives a formal framework for the negotiate or else decision. He is the chair of the Program on Negotiations at the Harvard Law School, so he is a pretty good source.
His basic framework is that you need to dispassionately (emotions always get in the way of logic) think about five points:
- What are my interests and what are my adversaries interests?
- What are my alternatives to negotiation and what are my adversaries alternatives? [Understand your, and his, BATNA’s.]
- Is there a potential deal that is better than the BATNA for each of us?
- What will it cost me to negotiate? Not all costs are in dollars. Time, emotion, reputation, and self-image are also factors.
- If we reach a deal, is there a reasonable prospect that it will be carried out? You can always put penalties for nonperformance from third parties in the deal.