One of the biggest challenges in relationship based negotiations, such as fee negotiations, is to determine the right balance of value creation vs. value claiming, i.e. how much to cooperate with the other side to agree a bigger, more valuable agreement against how to fight own’s own corner to win a bigger slice of the cake.
Research reported in the Negotiation Journal (July-Aug 2014) shows that top performing negotiators are not those that are best at either value creating or value claiming but those that are most flexible. The article illustrates one of the most important attributes of good negotiators – being flexible and knowing how to adopt their approach to their counterparts and negotiation situation
This points to another vital skill for negotiators – the ability to build relationships with counterparts. There are times (usually early on) when good negotiators will spend extra efforts to connect with their counterparts to build a relationship. Excellent negotiators will also invest and strengthen this relationship during the negotiation. These negotiators however remain careful not to become hostage to the relationship, i.e. they will ensure that their counterpart cannot take unfair advantage of the relationship.