Trust is the foundation of any successful business relationship, and top negotiators understand this well. While strength and determination are important qualities, it's crucial to not overlook the power of flexibility in negotiations.
Like the strong, immovable branches of an oak tree, immovable positions can be advantageous in some situations. However, when trying to create value and build a collaborative relationship, this rigidity can limit your ability to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
A flexible approach, on the other hand, can be the key to success. Negotiators should be like willows, able to bend and sway under pressure rather than crack. This flexibility and willingness to understand the needs of their counterpart can help build trust and establish a long-lasting business relationship.
In every negotiation, there is an opportunity to build trust and create enduring value. Regardless of which side of the table you're on, it's in your best interest to move beyond positions and openly share your true interests. Only by doing so can you form a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with your business partners.
For you next negotiation, start your discovery process by seeking to understand what's going on in your counterparts business. Don't stop your inquiry at the first answer, instead go deep and find out what their business problems are and how you can solve them. By doing so, you may find that there are many opportunities to trade that initially went unnoticed.
In most B2B negotiations, we don't always want the same things and this is where value lies. This is where we trade and create value for both parties.