Embracing AI: Advice for Negotiators

By RED BEAR October 26, 2023 | 8 min read

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere these days. Whether it’s creating artwork or helping developers code, it seems like there isn’t any industry that hasn’t felt the swift charge toward an AI-driven future.

But, while many applaud the sheer magnitude of this tech to assist and create, avid users of popular platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Midjourney, an AI-based image generator, will tell you we’re still quite far away from a fully AI-powered existence — if we reach that future at all.

Especially with skills like negotiation, where a dynamic awareness of the situation and intuition reign supreme, AI often leaves users wanting more. 

While there’s no perfect prompt to get you closer to a better deal, there are some ways negotiators can inject AI-powered tools into their processes.

How? That’s part of what we’ll explore today. So hang tight; we’ll offer you some advice around how to implement AI into your negotiation framework and understand where the value lies in these types of tools.

Here at RED BEAR, our goal is to transform individuals into world-class negotiators. Our methodology is leveraged by 45% of the Fortune 500, and for a good reason: it gets results.

For every dollar invested into our training, our clients get back, on average, $54. That’s the value of RED BEAR in action.

Emotional Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence

By 2027, the entire AI market is expected to eclipse $407 billion, a massive increase from the estimated $86 billion in 2022. 

With all that growth comes plenty of opportunity. Even today, there seems to be an AI tool for everything. But, as we race toward filling every gap we can with an AI solution, we’re missing an important question: what can’t AI replace?

Emotional intelligence is one of humanity’s most potent tools, and negotiators need to understand where AI’s strengths lie and where they don’t.

Negotiating with Emotional Intelligence in Mind

Humans have an innate ability to feel the atmosphere of a room to sense tension, joy, or hesitation.

In fact, this ability to understand each situation is at the heart of our sales and procurement negotiation courses, Situational Negotiation Skills and Negotiating With Suppliers. The courses offer participants the tools, skills, and behaviors they need to craft profitable, value-based agreements with customers, suppliers, and internal team members.

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Take one of the principles of negotiation: Satisfy Needs Over Wants. This essential negotiation skill asks the negotiator to dig deeper to understand the ‘why’ behind an action. “Wants” equal the what, while "needs” equal the why. These are more general, subjective measurables like looking good in front of management. 

Emotional Intelligence plays a crucial role in detecting changes in tone, pitch, or speed of speech. These changes often communicate more than words themselves, i.e., the underlying need. For instance, a negotiator might say they agree, but their tone might convey hesitation. These are the kinds of cues skilled negotiators pick up on.

While AI, especially in the field of natural language processing (NLP), is starting to play a role in this type of intelligence, there’s just no substitute for human intuition. This soft skill is invaluable, and it’s part of how we approach negotiation here at RED BEAR.

Data-Powered Preparation

If there’s one thing that AI can trump any human at its data processing.

Negotiators need to learn how to leverage the power of AI, and data analysis and processing is one of the main strengths of this kind of tech.

At the core of AI’s prowess lies its ability to shift through vast datasets within mere moments. For negotiators, this can mean having access to insights from years of data and industry trends at their fingertips.

Moreover, with certain AI models, negotiators can pull accurate and up-to-date data that can make a huge difference in real-time discussions. AI can allow professionals to keep track of changing market trends, analyze fluctuations, and catch potential disruptions. 

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AI Systems in Action

Let’s say a procurement professional is trying to find a suitable outcome for negotiations with a supplier. With up-to-date data on market trends and pricing, they can walk into a discussion with the most accurate information, leveraging this data to maximize the outcome of the deal. While they might be able to manage this effort themselves, AI fills in the gaps and frees up time so negotiators can focus on other, more pressing matters.

But, even with this data advantage, the responsibility to double-check data still remains with the negotiator. While AI can offer some amazing insights, always ensure data is accurate and trustworthy.

“But, even with this data advantage, the responsibility to double-check data still remains with the negotiator. While AI can offer some amazing insights, always ensure data is accurate and trustworthy.”

AI systems can also be critical in competitor analysis. A robust AI system can keep track of competitors' moves, mergers, product launches, and more. This knowledge provides a clear picture of the competitive landscape, enabling a negotiator to position their proposals more effectively.

Overall, when it comes to data, there is no better ally than an AI co-pilot. While negotiators still need to make the final decision on strategy themselves, this information can prove critical in steering negotiations toward the right outcome.

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The Human Touch in Negotiation

Negotiations are more than about a transaction.

Take cross-cultural negotiations. In many cultures, there are rituals tied to business dealings. From tea ceremonies to relationship-focused discussions, understanding these nuances can hold profound significance — and be a critical factor in reaching the best possible outcome.

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AI can help negotiators better understand these cultural differences, but it can’t be the one making the impact. There’s an energy in face-to-face, or even virtual, interactions that’s impossible to replicate in code. The handshake, the eye contact, the subtle shifts in body language — these elements convey intent, sincerity, and commitment. They build bridges of understanding that machines can't forge.

Balance Tech, Trust, and Touch

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful negotiation. And trust, at its core, is inherently human. It’s built on shared experiences, vulnerability, and mutual respect. While AI can provide insights and data, the foundation of trust remains in human hands.

“While AI can provide insights and data, the foundation of trust remains in human hands.”

Additionally, it’s worth remarking that while AI models can seem neutral on the surface, there is no denying that inherent bias exists in these systems — often unbeknownst to both developers and users.

As IBM Chief Science Officer for Cognitive Computing Guru Banavar puts it, “Machines get biased because the training data they’re fed may not be fully representative of what you’re trying to teach them.” While companies and developers are keenly aware of this problem and are working up solutions to remedy the bias issue, without this understanding of bias, negotiators can find themselves overleveraging AI with unintended and harmful consequences.

This is all to say while AI can be a powerful tool, there is no replacing the human touch. Over-reliance on these models is easy, especially with the novelty and enthusiasm of this technology at an all-time high.

Skilled negotiators will understand when to leverage AI and when to leave it out of strategizing. At the end of the day, AI is not the answer to every problem, far from it. It’s a tool and a powerful one. Utilized correctly, it can operate as a co-pilot for professionals looking to improve their negotiation skills and performance. Used incorrectly, though, it can lead to bad deals, soured relationships, and a ruined reputation.

Finding the Right Foundation with RED BEAR

If AI integration is on the mind, there’s no better way to get started than understanding the fundamentals of successful negotiation. Here at RED BEAR, we emphasize the principles, behaviors, and dimensions of negotiation that drive effective outcomes. 

While AI can offer some powerful insights, without this foundation, negotiators are relying on the tech to power their strategies rather than their own intuition and knowledge.

The reality is that negotiations are dynamic. No one discussion will be the same as another. As such, there is only so much support that AI, machine learning, or any other technology for that matter, can provide.

Skilled negotiation professionals will always be an invaluable resource, and here at RED BEAR, our mission is to transform your team into world-class negotiators.

To get started learning the right skills and strategies, connect with the team today.

Fill out our contact form and we will be back to you in no later than one business day.

 

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