Negotiate. Don’t Just Deliver.

I’ve heard more than one manager say that they don’t need subordinates who only know how to be messengers. What they’re really saying is that they need messengers, but these messengers can’t be people who only know how to pass messages on as they are. They need people who pass on messages with propositions or intangible information, or in other words, they need negotiators.

It’s amazing how perceptions and priorities can vary drastically across different parties who collaborate to complete the same goal. Negotiators who bring involved parties together are critical in making or breaking a cause. Here’s a funny little story that happened recently which might help shed light on the importance of effective negotiation.

We are collaborating with company A to cross promote each other in our campaigns, they’ll give us their design and we’ll give them ours. The goal is to share each other’s userbase in hope of acquiring more potential customers who are interested in our products which are highly similar and boost our respective revenue. Our colleagues in another country (let’s call them team C here) are responsible for collecting the design from company A. My team will take the collected design and implement it in our campaign, which will be reviewed by our design team.

After we implemented the design materials into our campaign, our design team tells us that the implemented material is too ugly and ruins our overall aesthetic. They say the design from company A is low quality design and demands that we let them make changes. We talk to team C about this but team C refuses because they don’t want company A changing our design materials either. So now we have a dilemma.

The fact that a greater goal requires different functions to come together is the very reason why negotiation is essential. Every party wants to do their job right without compromising their results to meet the needs of the other party. Our design team wants to protect the aesthetics of our marketing materials, we want the campaign to proceed, and team C wants to maintain a friendly relationship with company A while getting our design materials unchanged and delivered.

Negotiating with integrity is also difficult. It’s so much easier to not deal with difficult conversations and take small risks instead. One of my team members proposed that we simply continue with our design team’s version without telling company A. The change is small so they might not notice anyway. Team C rejected this proposal on the spot. I don’t blame my team member because our priority was progress.

The clock was ticking and our lack of consensus was costing us much precious time. I asked our design team to propose their modified version of company A’s banner and showed it to team C. Team C ultimately says that we can proceed with our designer’s version because the changes are only spacing optimizations and are considered small. I got back to our design team with this update and explained that team C doesn’t want to ruin our cooperation and relationship with company A, which is why they denied a design change the first time around. Our designer retorted that not changing the design is ruining the relationship. “Why?” I asked. “Because when you see an ugly design and you don’t tell the other party, you’re letting them make a huge mistake.” Hmmmm. I don’t agree with our design team’s rationale but I understand it, and I can guarantee that our counterparts in team C definitely don’t see it the way our design team does. Team C is likely to think that changing company A’s design is ruining the relationship.

This case is only a minor one among many simple and complicated negotiations that are ongoing daily. Helping different parties understand each other’s stances, proposing possible solutions, and maximizing every party’s wishes is a part of the art of negotiation, it’s so much more fun and rewarding than just passing on the message.




Digital Marketer. Creative Copywriter. A record of experiences and events. I write to get back on track.

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Victoria's Dream Life

Victoria's Dream Life

Digital Marketer. Creative Copywriter. A record of experiences and events. I write to get back on track.

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