Most people will have a different view on this one.  And I concede at the outset – it really depends on the circumstances and the outcome you are looking for.

In my view there is one overarching trait or characteristic that can significantly help the contract negotiation.  And that is – empathy! Or put another way – not taking things too personally.

Taking things personally can come in different forms. One example may be that the contract negotiator cannot understand why the other person can take such a different view on a particular topic – some see this as an unreasonable negotiation tactic or, at worst, a personal attack.  Or the contract negotiator may have a particular style that the other negotiator doesn’t like.  Or believes the negotiator is not conducting themselves as a negotiator should.  Whatever it is, the contract negotiators can start to fixate on each other, instead of solving the issue at hand for the benefit of each other.

Taking things personally can derail the negotiation and extend it far longer than is necessary – at considerable cost to both parties.  It can also start to build some bad blood which may impact the long term relationship of the parties.  And probably most importantly the parties are not finding creative, win-win type solutions for their contract negotiation which will provide more value to both parties.

So a good contract negotiator hits the negotiation hard but goes easy on the people – everyone is a person with different skills, experience, pressures, restrictions, etc.  And every person has their own personal circumstances which may leak into their work – something as complex as having an unrelated major issue at work / home to something as simple as they didn’t get a good night sleep and missed their morning coffee!

A good contract negotiator understands that we are all people, doesn’t take things personally and gets on with the negotiation with a view to achieving good outcomes for the client.

So next time you are in a contract negotiation exercise a little empathy for the other contract negotiator and see what win-win solutions you can create!