Negotiation doesn’t automatically mean an FBI agent talking down a manic criminal – which is just what these crime dramas have put in our head. In reality, it’s an essential skill that can help us further our professional and personal lives in the right direction! From negotiating a better deal at the used car garage or negotiating with your partner about your share of the chores, to getting your boss to increase your salary, we negotiate every single day without thinking about it.
But what if you did think about it? Naturally, consciously employing the right negotiation techniques will ensure that you come out with the best possible outcome. How would you like to become an expert negotiator who always gets what he/she set out to get? That would be a pretty sweet skill to have, wouldn’t it? So, get educated! Here are 10 top tips for becoming a BOSS negotiator.
1. Make Sure Everyone Wins
A good deal should focus on an outcome that is favorable to both parties. Its not all about you, there’s someone else that is going to be affected by the results of the agreement as well and you need to remember that. There have even been several studies that show the benefits of a win-win attitude, including game theory, that are very clear about this. Remember that while getting the best deal right now is obviously the main focus, you don’t want to go in with a me-me attitude that will tarnish your image and damage future negotiations. Be fair and respectful of the other party!
2. Shut Up & Listen
Most people are too focused on getting their opinions out that they fail to listen to what the other person wants. Think about it this way: not only is it polite and considerate to listen to what the other party wants, but it is also useful in creating the best deal possible. The more information you have about their needs and motivation, the better negotiator you can be! The old saying is that one should listen two-thirds of the time and speak only one-third of the time is a good rule to follow. In a good negotiation, as in life in general, you should learn to just shut up and listen!
Piggybacking onto the previous point, this one is an important aspect of negotiation. Coinage simply means to find out what the other party’s motivation is. It might not mean much to you, but this is important for them. As for you, it can help you “seal the deal” by giving them a free guarantee to ease their concerns. For example, if you are negotiating with a buyer who seems hesitant and you find out that they are worried about the product’s quality, throw in a warranty period. It’ll help them feel assured and you’ll have finalized the sale!
4. Be Prepared for ANYTHING
If you aren’t prepared for curveballs, you’ll have to be prepared to fail! This one is especially crucial when you are part of a team. If you aren’t all on the same page, chances are that you’re going to get your wires crossed at some point or the other. Be prepared on what alternatives would work and what backup option everyone involved would be comfortable with. In trade negotiations, this is called BATNA or “Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement”. Basically, what would work in the case that the original plan doesn’t work out?
5. Set the Scene
The environment in which the negotiation is to take place can massively impact the outcome of it. That’s why it’s important to carefully choose where the meeting is to take place. For instance, a large boardroom with a very impersonal air might feel hostile while a friendly meeting at a restaurant might seem warm and encouraging. To give a somewhat extreme example in action, the US conducted negotiations between Israel and Palestine at Camp David, a country retreat for the US president, instead of in a stiff government office somewhere.
6. Lay Down the Ground Rules
If you are going into a formal negotiation, make sure that everyone involved knows what’s expected of them from the get-go. For instance, everyone should agree to have a respectful and beneficial negotiation that considers other opinions as well. This will keep things from getting out of hand and if help reel it back in if things do seem to be veering off course.
7. Bargaining Power
Know your strengths and weaknesses before starting a negotiation. This will give you as much bargaining power as possible. It will also help to “protect” yourself by taking away some of the other person’s power because you’re already aware of your weak spots. And such power could come from several different places other than the obvious ones like being the boss or a market leader. For example, you could use time (like a deadline) or relationship status to subtly nudge the deal in your favor.
8. Know When to Pull Back
Obviously, nobody would like their deal to fail, but a good negotiator is one that knows when the right time to pull back is. You might have tried everything in your bag of tricks but it doesn’t seem to be coming together. Pull back and accept that some deals are just not to be. It may even be that new information or a change in the circumstances makes the entire thing impossible to negotiate – there’s no shame in accepting defeat.
9. Make It Fun
Negotiations are a stressful thing for many and they can be long and drawn-out at times, but if you go into it with a mindset of “ripping off the bandage”, chances are that it’s not going to go very well. Instead, turn it into something fun – something that’s enjoyable for you and the other party too. This way, everyone comes out of it feeling good and satisfied!
10. Remember Win-Win
This one is so important that we thought it imperative to get its own mention. The deal you are negotiating has to have the best interests of all parties involved. Destroying someone else will not paint you in a positive light, which means you can kiss future deals goodbye. Always remember that the goal of a good deal is to come to a conclusion where all parties involved are left with an equally attractive piece of the pie!