Ever walked away from a negotiation confused about what was agreed? Worried you gave away too much? Thought you could have done better in the heat of the moment?
To avoid such pitfalls, clear thinking using mental checklists at each stage of a meeting can help.
Broadly, negotiations happen over 5 key stages:
1. The Opening
2. Clarifying Issues
3. Exploring Options
4. Reaching Agreement
5. Closing the meeting.
This post focuses on Stage 1 – The Opening. Stages 2-5 will be covered in later posts.
Stage 1: The Opening (ROTAR)
‘ROTAR’ provides a helpful mental checklist for a clear Opening that demonstrates executive presence and professionalism while building trust and rapport.
The aim here is to relax the mood before getting down to the substance of the meeting. If your aim is develop a ‘business partner’ relationship, focus on broader issues rather than general social chit-chat.
“How are the new regulations impacting the business?”
“How are things settling down now after the new IT system implementation?”
Purposeful use of well-prepared questions or comments sets a professional tone at the outset.
In a few words, state why you have called the meeting:
“The reason I wanted to meet you today is to ….”
“In today’s meeting, I’d like to clarify/update/review/follow up on…”
“Are there any other areas you would like to cover today?”
Stating this assertively and concisely ensures all parties are aligned.
Confirm how long you have for the meeting in case others have unexpected time constraints,:
“I have scheduled 30 mins for this meeting. Will this be OK for you?”
“I appreciate you may have a tight schedule today. How long do we have for our meeting?”
This is especially important when meeting executives you know have tight schedules.
Here, the aim is to confirm the flow of the meeting and align on how to best spend the time together:
“I have prepared a short presentation however I thought a better use of time would be if we could first…, and then…. Would this work for you?”
Alternatively, give your counterpart control by asking how they would like the meeting to be structured.
“How shall we allocate our time together?
“What areas do we need to cover in today’s meeting”
Highlight the desired outcome of the meeting: Frame this as a ‘win’ for the other party:
“As a result of this meeting, I am hoping to agree something that you will be comfortable taking to your senior management.”
“As an outcome today, I am hoping we can agree a plan that works for you.”
Highlighting the personal benefit of attending the meeting increases listener buy-in and likely commitment.
Next time you open a meeting, purposefully apply ‘ROTAR’ for a powerful opening that puts you in the driver’s seat and increases the chance of a favourable outcome.