People hate negotiating, and many claim it’s because they’re not good at it. It’s as if there is a prevailing belief that negotiating is an innate talent, like perfect pitch or athletic prowess. In fact, negotiating is a learned skill, one we spend our whole lives developing from the time we are small children refusing to finish our supper. Each time we begged our parents to go out with friends, talked a teacher into an extension on an assignment, or bought or sold any of our belongings, we entered into negotiations. With all this practice, we already know the basics, but they are so obvious, we tend to forget them when it comes time to negotiate salaries or sales. Here are some simple tools to use in your next negotiation!
Establish an Emotional Connection
Traditional thinking suggests keeping all your cards hidden, but more recent data indicates that negotiations are more successful when everyone involved has something personal at stake, even if it is not directly related to the negotiation. Sharing something personal about yourself such as a hobby or hope is an inroad between you and your negotiating partner. This will also make phone conversations, if you are working from a remote place, more interesting and trustworthy. Negotiations may be practical matters of rational logic, but the people having them are emotional creatures, and a little emotional intelligence can go a long way in any negotiation.
Another piece of traditional wisdom has always maintained that allowing the other party to make the first offer is the way to a successful negotiation. This is actually the opposite of truth. Psychology made us aware of something called the anchoring effect, which means that the first suggestion will set the tone for all of the others. In a negotiation, this means that all the dealing will revolve around the first offer. Being prepared for this means being ready to make the first offer, or, if they beat you to it, countering them by being aware of this trick and re-anchoring the negotiation where you want the discussion centered.
Come to the Table Prepared
Any time you know what you’re talking about, you look competent and instill confidence in others. If you do your homework beforehand, you will gain the upper hand in a negotiation just through your knowledge of the discussion. This might include competitive salaries, prices, or packages, or even a bit about the people you are talking to and their needs. The more you know going in, the more you have to bargain with.
Try to Give Each Party Something They Want
The whole point of a negotiation is that both parties want something from one another, whether it is goods, services, or employment. Each party should be able to walk away from a successful negotiation with at least some of what they wanted. Through compromise and a lot of listening, this can easily be accomplished, but doing research beforehand can give you an idea of whether or not they really want what they appear to. Often in negotiations, parties try to throw in red herrings that are of little value to get what they want. Knowing what they actually have to offer as opposed to what they say they have is as important as knowing what they want.
Know Your Limits
Everyone has a minimum, and while it is important to know that of the other party, it is even more important to know your own. This way, you have a gauge of whether or not the negotiation is going well. If you find it is hovering around your limits, you do have the option of walking away. The most important word you can’t be afraid to say is “No.”
Don’t Let Them Wear You Down!
Negotiation fatigue is a powerful weapon. People really do hate to negotiate, so they will try to end it as quickly as possible by setting down ultimatums or rapid settlements. They are counting on you to be tired of the negotiation too, so they are hoping to wear you down so you accept a lower offer. This is just a matter of building endurance for this type of negotiation, and using their own tactic against them!
Negotiations are actually very easy, once you are familiar with the tools used by negotiators. With practice, anyone can become a master negotiator. It is simply a matter of building a kit of reliable tools, and using them in negotiations.
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