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Do more options equal a successful negotiation?

Negotiators are often taught that more options equal a more successful outcome. This is simply not true, the more options one has, the easier it is to become distracted from what is most important. In this week´s practice session we role-played a negotiation between two co-authors who had written a book on mathematics and statics in the business world. There were three main areas for the negotiation:

  • The name of the book
  • The time of launch
  • Publishing house or self-publishing  

There were several red herrings parading themselves as options; the promise of a top ten position in a chosen category, a positive phone call from an interested party, and a potential offer to market the book to an international audience.

All of these had one thing in common, nothing had been agreed upon. The difference between an option and an alternative is that an alternative must be thoroughly researched and concrete in nature. The alternative should offer a similar level of benefit to warrant consideration. The strength, not the number of your suite of alternatives determines your position in the negotiation. One great alternative is better than several unresearched options. 

In the case of the book publishing deal, none of our delegates was able to come to a negotiated agreement this week and the learning was great!

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