Negotiating is both a skill and an art. I am proud to have learned from two people that I consider some of the best: my father Jay Mesinger and our dear friend and colleague who recently passed away, Dean Welch. Both have/had an incredible ability to turn square tables into round tables with everyone from both sides of a transaction focused on completing the common goal of a good, fair and successful transaction.
We just completed an acquisition of an aircraft last week with a unique set of circumstances. To get it across the finish line we had to negotiate one final deal point. We went back and forth several times with each side digging in to protect their priorities at which point we were close, but not done. Everyone wanted to get the sale completed and there were a lot of external factors adding pressure to get these last issues resolved in a way that worked for everyone. When the negotiations reached a challenging place where each party had given all they thought they could, instead of people getting mad or pulling away, we stepped back and reviewed the respective priorities. We evaluated what each side had already negotiated and without either side giving anything up we found a way to shift value points in the deal that still gave adequate protections, but bridged the gaps that were open.
The solution to the problem was not obvious. It was identified by listening closely, not getting upset and thinking outside of the box. We also had good people on both sides of the negotiation who, because of careful management of the process throughout, were figuratively sitting around a round table instead of on opposite sides. Most people approach negotiations from opposite sides of a table and of course each side always has competing priorities and that is the nature of negotiations. At the same time, everyone usually also starts negotiations with the same end goal, the completion of the deal at hand. So, what I have learned about negotiating over the twelve years I have been in this business is: to listen closely, understand each sides’ priorities and boundaries, keep the big picture in mind and don’t get so bogged down in the details that you lose focus on the end goal and work to create a group discussion that helps turn a square table into a round table. Not all deals can be negotiated to a successful outcome, but by employing these skills you have a much greater opportunity for success.