Getting What You Want in a Negotiation/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on May 12, 2013


An article written recently by Laura Landro (WSJ) discusses a technique called “motivational interviewing”. In this method, physicians, therapists, etc. do not tell their clients what they want them to do. Rather, they ask the individual about changes they are willing to make in their habits. The response by the client is then reinforced by the practitioner with suggestions, encouragement and other means. the advantage to asking rather than telling is that the client is less likely to disengage and more likely to follow through with their commitments.  A client, for example, who needs to lose weight will likely do better with small steps (e.g. cutting down on sweets) rather than being subjected to a lecture regarding the harmful effects of their current practices.The technique of motivational interviewing both encourages the setting of realistic goals in tandem with the encouragement that the client exceed their goals when the feel comfortable doing so.

The essence of this technique is the concept that change comes most efficiently when it comes from within rather than being imposed from without. Choices will vary from individual to individual as each client views what the feel will work best for them. This program has met with much success in the medical arena. It has encourage clients to make changes in their routine while also accepting the limits on what they may be able to accomplish.

In a  negotiation, a party may state what they want and what they need. Even if concessions are made by the other side, who is to say that these commitments will be met. A better technique might be the following: “I need X. What do you feel is fair? What do you feel is a possibility?” The combination of a free exchange and a trained mediator may well lead to positive results. Motivating, rather than scolding, is surely a technique worthy of consideration in negotiating for your desired outcomes.