270. Expert Interview: Think Like a Negotiator
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Fernandez is a retired Air Force veteran with 23 years of honorable military service. She is a negotiation and contracts expert with more than 30 years of leadership, contracts management and negotiation experience and has negotiated contracts from $1 million to over $100 million, both stateside and internationally. She has developed and taught courses on contract claims, negotiation and other aspects of contracting. She has seven years of extensive experience working for defense contractors in the aerospace industry and has been a trusted agent of the U.S. Government for 30 years.
Think Like a Negotiator, with Eldonna Fernandez
A lot of people think of negotiation as a big, daunting thing. But think about it. Have you ever missed an opportunity because you didn’t ask for what you wanted, or maybe you just agreed to a deal because you didn’t want to deal with conflict? Maybe you just lack self-confidence. Those are things that come up when you’re not a masterful negotiator. My negotiations are all about win-win. We hear that phrase a lot but it means that neither party will get everything they want, but that at the end of the negotiation both parties feel OK about the resolution.”
Why Is This Important?
“We negotiate every day of our lives, know how to evaluate a proposal, deal or offer, or even a suggestion or request. And know whether it’s a good or bad thing for them. That’s what the foundation of negotiation is all about. Whether it’s a multi-million-dollar deal, how to get your kids to do their homework, or where to meet for dinner. Mastering those skills will make you better in business or your employment life, and also in your personal life. A lot of people don’t know how, so they either quit or think it’s too much for them to do to raise a dispute. Negotiation is about knowing how to stand up for yourself, what things you need to say and how you need to present them so the other side will agree with you. You must decide exactly what you hope to achieve through negotiation. It’s important to know how to evaluate a proposal, deal or offer—or even a suggestion or request in an informal negotiation—and know whether it’s a good or bad thing for you. That’s what the foundation of negotiation is all about.”
What Are the Key Lessons Learned Here?
“In many routine negotiations, such as landlord-tenant disputes, you have to do your research and figure out what’s fair and reasonable. Of course, that’s a different definition for everybody. What’s fair and reasonable to me may not seem fair and reasonable to you. Successful negotiation means finding a kind of a balance of conflicting interests, such as moderate pricing or terms and conditions that are not extreme or excessive. The next thing you do is prepare in advance and get your facts together. In the case of a landlord-tenant dispute, you would look at the relevant laws, the code in your state on landlord and tenants. Look at all the documents you receive from the other party to see if you have all the documents you need, that the information is accurate, and that any charges are accurate and reasonable. Then, you decide what issues or items you are going to dispute and what you’re not going to dispute. You also have to decide if you’re willing to go to court. In this case, it would be small claims court. If you’re willing to go to court, have decided that and stated that to the other party, you have to be willing to go through with it if you don’t get a satisfactory resolution, or you won’t be taken seriously.”
Connecting With Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
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