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How to Stay Positive during Tense Negotiations

It’s not easy to stay calm and positive when things get heated in a meeting or a difficult conversation and things can get especially tense during a negotiation.  We have all experienced this at one time or another. We might end up saying something that we later regret or making concessions just to get out of the situation.  It can be difficult to remain positive when you strongly disagree with the other party, but failure to do so will likely leave you wishing for a reset button. With so much at stake, it’s important to “keep calm and negotiate on.”  Here are a few tips for how you can keep your cool even in the most difficult negotiations.

Control Your Emotions

When you are in the midst of a tense negotiation it is easy to let you your emotions get the best of you.  However, your emotions can influence your behavior and can cause you to strengthen or damage the relationship with your counterpart.  While you might disagree strongly with the other side or feel angry about their requests, you have to maintain your composure in order to think rationally and act strategically.  Take a deep breath and remember to stay in control of your emotions.

Stay Focused on the Solution

Tough negotiators can use aggressive tactics to try and manipulate and control the negotiation.  As soon as you start feeling yourself begin to tense up, remember to shift your focus to the solution.  Allow the other party to speak but do not respond to aggression with aggression. Rather, let them know that you hear what they are saying and then politely shift the focus back to the solution.  When you stay focused on providing a solution and refuse to give in to their tactics, you will be able to remain positive and calm throughout the negotiation.

Come Prepared

The preparation you do before the negotiation can have a huge impact on your ability to remain calm and composed.  Gather as much information as you can prior to the negotiation. Find out what the other party values most, what problems they are having, and what solutions you can provide.  Aggressive negotiators are still there for one reason: to find a solution. If you are familiar with their needs and come prepared with solutions, you are less likely to crumble under the pressure of a tense negotiation.  

Listen

Oftentimes, aggressive negotiators get defensive because they want to feel heard.  They want to know that you are listening to them and are hearing their needs. So, give them what they want.  Your most powerful tool is your ability to listen. If you actively listen to your counterpart, it will make them feel respected and “in control” of the situation.  This will also allow you to maintain your composure and keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

Be Polite

As much as you may want to shout at the other person, it is important to remain polite throughout tense negotiations.  If you stay calm, it will help to diffuse the situation and calm the other person down as well. Furthermore, your ability to be polite amidst tense conversation will help you earn the respect of your counterpart and help the negotiation to remain positive.

How to Build a Win-Win Deal

Oftentimes people think of negotiations as a competition, where the person with the most experience and the most aggressive tactics will emerge victorious.  Unfortunately this notion that negotiation ends with a winner and a loser leads to a lose-lose outcome. Effective negotiators understand that a “good deal” happens when both parties achieve mutual solutions.  That is why they approach negotiations with a win-win outcome in mind. Here are few things negotiators must do in order to build a win-win deal.

Seek to Understand

If you want to achieve a successful win-win outcome, you must first strive to understand the other person’s wants and needs.  What is motivating them? What do they value? What problem are they having? Attempt to seek a solution that will solve their problem in addition to your own.  When you focus on meeting their needs, you will be on the right track toward a win-win outcome.

Establish Trust

Forget everything you have heard about using harsh tactics such as bluffing, intimidation, delays, or exaggerations during a negotiation.  These tactics do not help the negotiation, they poison it. If you want to create a win-win deal you need to establish trust with your counterpart.  Both sides need to feel confident that the other is acting in good faith. Do this by exchanging as much information as possible. Full disclosure will help both sides better understand each other’s needs, motives, and values.  

Focus on Problem Solving

The key to creating a win-win deal is coming up with viable solutions that will benefit both sides.  Instead of looking at it as making concessions, shift your focus to solving problems. Sure, you might be adjusting a monetary figure but do so in exchange for other benefits.  When you seek to solve problems in a way that will create mutual benefit, you are on your way to closing a win-win deal.

Build in Options for Mutual Gain

As stated before, it is so important to gain an understanding of the other party’s needs.  Once you know what is motivating them, you can begin working on solutions. When you are preparing for the negotiation, build in a few options that will be beneficial to both of you.  For example, if you are negotiating for a raise, you want to sell yourself and make sure your boss knows just how valuable you are. Your boss might not be able to give you a monetary raise, but perhaps he/she could extend some other perks or benefits to you.  You both come out ahead because you got some additional perks and your boss got to keep a great employee.

Know Your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement)

Your BATNA is essentially your plan B in case you aren’t able to get everything you wanted.  This is not the same as your walk- away point, whereas the deal doesn’t happen because the other party cannot meet your needs.  Rather, this is the most attractive alternative to your desired result. Although you had to make some concessions to get the deal done, you and your counterpart both came out with mutual benefit.  

What to Concede During Negotiations

Successful negotiators are those who look for a win/win solution.  Their goal is to achieve a mutually acceptable result that is beneficial for both parties.  However, every negotiation involves a little give and take in order to achieve this goal. There are almost certainly going to be a number of concessions that occur during the negotiation.  The question is: How do you know when and how much to concede? After all, conceding too much can move you away from a successful result and conceding too little can leave you with no deal at all.  Here are a few concession strategies that will give you the best chance of achieving those win/win results.

  • Prior to the negotiation, make a list of some concessions you are willing to make and what you would like in return.  Some examples of concessions might include price adjustments, extended deadline, waiving additional registration or set-up fees, altering the length of contract, etc.   Prioritize this list from “Most Important” to “Least Important” so you will know where to begin when you make concessions during the negotiation. You also need to have a clear understanding of how much your counterpart values each concession.  For example, there is no need to concede on price if your counterpart is willing to pay it. Perhaps it is the length of the contract that is holding them up. Understanding the value of these concessions will help you navigate the negotiation.   
  • Never make concessions without asking for something in return.  Look at it as though you are doing something for them so they must do something for you.  Your counterpart should understand that anytime you offer to make a concession, it is contingent upon a reciprocal concession of equal value.  
  • Always concede small!  If you make a large concession right out of the gate, you immediately weaken your negotiating credibility.  Your counterpart will assume that if you are willing to give so much up right off the bat, how much more slack will you be willing to give as the negotiation continues.  Always start small and only concede enough to keep the negotiation moving forward. When you make multiple smaller concessions, it gives your counterpart the feeling that you are flexible.  
  • Make concessions slowly.  If you concede too quickly, your counterpart won’t really see it as a concession because it won’t seem as valuable to you.  Make sure they understand the value of what you are conceding so they grant something in return.  
  • Only make concessions when they are in your best interest.  Your counterpart might offer to “split the difference” or make some other offer that is actually more beneficial to them.  Remember that the purpose of making concessions is to achieve a win/win solution…so there has to be something in it for you too!

How to Prepare for a Difficult Negotiation

As much as you might want negotiations with customers to be a mutually beneficial process, the reality is that there are times when your counterpart might be an extremely tough negotiator.  Sometimes these negotiators are manipulative, demanding, and unafraid to employ harsh negotiating tactics. So, what do you do when you find yourself dealing with such a difficult negotiator?  Your chances of accomplishing a successful negotiation are slim if you haven’t come prepared. This hard hitting counterpart has prepared so it will put you at an extreme disadvantage if you walk in unequipped.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for a tough negotiation.

Gather Information Prior to the Negotiation

In order to negotiate a successful agreement, you need to have a clear idea of what the other party needs, what is motivating them, what their weaknesses are, and what their alternatives are.  This information is absolutely essential if you want to negotiate a successful deal. However, you can’t wait until you walk into the negotiation to ask these questions. Tough negotiators will intentionally withhold this information from you during the actual negotiation.  Therefore, it’s up to you to learn as much as you can about what your counterpart values before you step foot into the room with them.

Find Out What the Other Party Values

This is perhaps the most critical component of any negotiation.  It is absolutely imperative to find out what the other party values most.  This can be anything from price, a solution to a problem, or a flexible contract.  This is important because the secret to a successful negotiation is making your counterpart feel like their needs are being met.  You can never assume that you know what matters most to them. Instead, do your research and ask plenty of questions ahead of time.

Understand What Matters Most to You

Before entering into a negotiation you must be aware of what is most important to you and your organization.  Chances are what you value and what your counterpart value is different, allowing you to find a compromise that is beneficial to you both.  When you enter into a negotiation with a clear goal in mind, you know exactly what the terms need to be and you are in a position to make the first offer.  

Prepare for Time Pressure

Time pressure can be your biggest enemy in a negotiation.  When you have a tight deadline, there’s a good chance you will make unwanted concessions just to get the deal done.  You can avoid this sense of urgency by preparing for the negotiation ahead of time. You can also manage urgency by attaching your own specific terms to the agreement.  You could include a percentage increase, for example, that will expire by a certain date. This allows you to work the deadline pressure into a deal that is beneficial for you.  

Build Some Concessions into Your Negotiation

Tough negotiators want to feel like they have the upper hand and are getting the better end of the deal.  You can help make this happen by building some terms into the negotiation ahead of time that you know are expendable.  Essentially you are adding some unnecessary fat that can be “trimmed” away to make the other person feel like you are giving them a deal.  For example you might waive a set-up fee that was not really of utmost importance to you anyway. You are making the other party feel as though you are giving something up for their benefit.  

Know Your Walk Away Point

Some negotiators just aren’t willing to budge and there might be times when you just have to walk away from the deal.  Make sure you know what your walk away point is prior to entering the negotiation. This will prevent you from making a decision in the heat of the moment that you might regret.  

Ways to Negotiate with an Uncooperative Coworker

Negotiations are tough enough but what happens when your counterpart is completely uncooperative?  Better yet, what if this uncooperative counterpart is your coworker?   It can be incredibly frustrating and even maddening to try and reason with an unreasonable person.  You might be valiantly trying to reach an agreement with this person to no avail.  The truth is you can’t reason with someone who is completely unreasonable.  Luckily, however, there are ways to diffuse and manage these dicey situations in order to achieve common ground.

Listen!

Listening is the most important step in dealing with a difficult person.  The main reason they come across so unreasonable is that they want to feel like their voice is heard.  No progress can take place until the other person feels acknowledged.  When you are listening to your coworker, really focus on what they are saying rather than what you are going to say next.  This will make them feel respected and will make them relinquish a little bit of their dominance.

Stay Calm

This might be the most difficult part of negotiating with a difficult person.  After all, you can only take so much before you want to scream at them for being so unreasonable.  When the conversation gets emotionally charged it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and lose your cool.  Unfortunately, uncooperative people are relentless and this will get you nowhere.  If you want to negotiate effectively, you are going to have to maintain your composure and keep things moving along calmly.

Be Empathetic

It’s not easy showing empathy toward someone who is being totally uncooperative.  However, you should consider that there might be more to your coworker than meets the eye.  There might be a deeper reason as to why they are acting so difficult.  When you show empathy, you are letting that person know that you really do care about their feelings and point of view.  This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but rather it simply means that you respect them.

Bring Solutions

When you are negotiating with someone who is uncooperative, you have to let them know that you are in control of the situation.  Don’t just meet with them to discuss the issue or problem; instead come prepared with solutions in mind.  Difficult people often appreciate those who come from a competent and powerful position.  If you come with a few reasonable solutions in mind, they are more likely to hear you out and possible reach an agreement.

Focus on Consequence

The ability to assert consequence is one the most important skills you can use to bring a difficult person back down to size.  When you offer a compelling argument explaining the consequences if they refuse to cooperate, it can cause that person to pause and shift from defensive to cooperative.  The power of consequence can be a powerful tool if used correctly and can help you to successfully negotiate with aggressive and unreasonable people.

Tips for Negotiating with a Competitor

There is one thing every business has in common: there will always be competition.  It’s hard to escape your competition at times.  You are constantly forced to compare your stats with theirs.  You are always competing with them for the client.  Clients will even shove them into you face explaining how great they are and how much cheaper they are.  The fact is competition is a part of the business world that will never go away and while competition is good, collaboration can be even better.  Collaborative negotiation is an approach that seeks to find an equitable and fair agreement that will also maintain the relationship.  Follow these tips to learn how to negotiate effectively with your competitor to create value.

Take a Win-Win Approach

While some negotiators look to achieve a “win-loss” result in which one party gets what they want by convincing the other party to concede, a collaborative negotiation works by finding things of value to both parties.  This is known as a “win-win” approach because both parties leave the table feeling like they have gained something of value.  When collaborating with a competitor, it is important to consider their needs as well as your own and find a solution that can be beneficial to both of you. Not only will this result in your own benefit, but it will also help to create a sustainable relationship with the competitor.

Be Fair

When negotiating with a competitor you have to look beyond just your needs.   If you want them to partner with you, there has to be something in it for them as well.  This means your negotiation has to be fair.  It can’t be viewed as a competition where there is a winner and a loser.  Competitors are more likely to collaborate and partner with companies that seek fair agreements.

Find a Joint Solution

In order for collaborative negotiation to be successful, both parties need to look at the problem together and find one joint solution.  Instead of each party bringing forth their own individual needs, they need to remember that together they can achieve more.  After all, you wouldn’t be negotiating with your competitor if you didn’t need something from them and vice versa.  If you are collaborating to meet the needs of a client, for example, consider the client’s needs as the problem and work together to come up with a joint solution.

Be Honest

Honesty and transparency goes a long way in the negotiating world.  Your counterpart is more likely to work with you if they feel like they can trust you.  There is no room for deceptive behavior in collaborative negotiations because you need to see yourselves as more of a team.  Be open and honest about your wants and needs and be willing to share important information that can help you achieve a fair agreement.  

Listen

Like any negotiation, listening is a key component.  The best negotiators are also the best listeners.  When you are actively listening to your competitor, it lets that know that you truly do have their best interest at heart and they are more willing to bend a little to find an agreeable solution.  No one wants to negotiate with someone who only talks about their own needs without giving a second thought to the needs of their counterpart.

5 Reasons to Negotiate for a Better Office

Office employees spend much of their time inside an office building.  In fact, most people spend more time at work than they do at home.  Therefore, it is important to consider how the physical environment of the office directly influences employee work performance and productivity.  The physical environment encompasses what employees can see, touch, taste, and smell.  It refers to the art that is hanging on the walls, the furniture that employees are sitting in, the temperature of the room, and the equipment that employees have access to.  While it may seem second to the business itself, the physical office can have a huge impact on employee morale and performance. In addition to salary, benefits, and other perks, employees should also negotiate for a better office and here’s why.

Employees who are Comfortable are More Positive

It doesn’t take a professional to tell you that when you are in an area that is attractive, comfortable, and clean you are going to feel better.  This is true of both the home environment and the office environment.  Companies should invest in good lighting, properly working heating and air conditioning units, quality office furniture, and decorative elements such as plants and pictures.  Each of these elements is important in creating an office that is clean and pleasant to be in.  Employees will appreciate the aesthetic value that it brings to the space and they will be affected in a more positive way.

An Updated Office Lends Itself to Greater Productivity

Employees are a company’s greatest asset so it only makes sense that employees should have access to up-to-date technology, working equipment, and anything else that is required to help them succeed.  Employees should absolutely negotiate for better computers, printers, phones, and any other tools that might help them to do their job better.  Companies that invest in updated equipment not only give their employees the opportunity to be more productive, but they demonstrate that employees’ needs matter and are important. 

Lounge Areas Provide a Healthy Retreat for Employees

While no company pays their employees to come to work and lounge on the couch, it is important to note that employees need and deserve a quiet reprieve every now and then.  Lounge areas or quiet rooms provide employees with a place to retreat if they need a few minutes of quiet to gather their thoughts or decompress for a few minutes.  Having a place where employees can relax can help reduce their stress levels and boost their energy levels.  When employees are engaged in long hours or intensive work, they need to have a few minutes where they can take a break in order to regain their focus. Therefore, employees should negotiate for a lounge area or quiet room where they can have a few minutes of solitude in the midst of their work day. 

The Physical Work Environment Directly Impacts Employees

Perhaps you want an office located near a window.  Maybe you are in a dark corner and prefer an office space with a little more light.  Maybe the color of the office is drab and uninviting.  All of these are valid reasons to negotiate a better office environment.  Think about how you feel when you walk into a doctor’s office or hospital.  Chances are you don’t get overly excited or filled with energy.  It’s hard to feel engaged and inspired when the environment itself is cold and unwelcoming.   Things like natural light, bright colors and attractive décor do more than just make the office look pretty.  They actually make the employees feel happier and more engaged at work.  In turn, this leads to greater performance and higher productivity.

Employees Work Best When They Have Options

Most employees do not love sitting in a cubicle all day.  After all, how many of us prefer to be stuck in a 6×6 box with nothing to look at but a computer screen and a phone.  The truth is employees can’t be their best when they are forced to stay in one place all day.  Employees should negotiate for an office that provides multiple work options.  For example an office might have an open environment with cubicles as well as a collaborative learning space, a co-working café, a conference room, and a few smaller meeting rooms.  Integrating multiple working spaces gives employees options as to where they can work best.  It also lends itself to teamwork and collaboration.

How to Create the Undeniable Deal

The idea of negotiating can be intimidating and it’s something not everyone is experienced with.  However, successful negotiation is a necessary part of any business and it’s a skill that should be mastered.  The secret to successful negotiations is creating a deal that your counterpart just can’t refuse.   Here are a few tips for how you can negotiate a deal that is too good to lose. 

Do Your Research

In order for your negotiation to be effective, you must first be armed with the right information.  Come to the negotiation with as much information about your counterpart as you can get. For example, if you are negotiating salary, have an idea of what similar positions in your area are getting paid.  If you are negotiating with a client, find out what their needs and budget are prior to the negotiation.  The more information you can gather the better deal you will be able to create.

Find the Need

Whenever two people are negotiating, one thing is for sure: they are both looking to gain something from the deal.  Find out what your counterpart’s needs are and play to that.   This is also known as their pressure points.  Clearly your counterpart has a need (they need your product, they need to hire someone for the position, they need your services) and it’s up to you to discover what that need is and provide a solution.  This means you will have to listen carefully during the negotiation to discover what exactly they are looking for.  When you can propose a great solution to their need, it becomes hard for them to walk away from the deal.

Be Patient

Being patient is very difficult for negotiators because we all want to walk away knowing the deal is done.  However, the best negotiators know not to rush the process.  If you rush the deal, you are more likely to make mistakes and leave money on the table.  Your patience can give you an advantage because you no longer look desperate.  In fact, the other party might be so eager to reach a deal that they are willing to make concessions in order to get there.

Focus on Their Pressure, Not Yours

As stated before, the deal you are negotiating should be presented in a way that provides your counterpart with the solution they need while also giving you the price you want.  All too often, however, the negotiator gets so focused on closing the deal that they put all the pressure on themselves.  Instead, remember that your counterpart is coming to you because they have a need.  Therefore, the pressure is on them to find a solution.  When you focus on their pressure instead of your own, you become more powerful in the negotiation.  Your job is to find their pressure and exploit it in order to create a deal they can’t refuse.

Show Them How Their Needs Will Be Met

Successful negotiators always look at things from the other side’s perspective.  Instead of trying to win the negotiation, create a deal that will fully satisfy the needs of the other party.  When you show them just how much your solution is going to satisfy their needs, they will be more inclined to make concessions in order to work the deal.

Always Be Closing: The Art of the Grand Finale

The three most important words for any business are: sell, sell, sell.  Good salespeople are constantly looking at situations as opportunities to complete a sale.  They never forget to bring contracts with them, never forget to ask for the deal, and never forget to get the client to sign on the dotted line. Just like the iconic line from Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, good salespeople understand the art of ABC: Always Be Closing.   If they want to survive in the industry, salespeople need to understand what it takes to get to “yes!”  There are dozens of techniques in the world of sales, but these are just a few things to keep in mind in order to close deals.

Know Your Prospect

Everyone wants to feel unique and important and good salespeople understand that selling is all about building trust and rapport with the client.  Take time to talk to the client and find out what is motivating them.  What are their concerns? What are they trying to achieve? Taking a genuine interest in your client and their needs will go a long way towards closing the deal.  After all, people like to buy from people they like and trust.

Be Authentic

People can smell a greedy salesperson from a mile away.  Clients can sense if you really care about them or you are just trying to get their money. Therefore, it’s important to convey to the client that you have their best interest in mind.  Avoid coming on too strong, as this is likely to backfire.

Define the Problem

Let’s face it…client’s don’t look to make purchases because they enjoy spending money.  They come to you because they have a problem that needs a solution.  It’s up to the salesperson to determine what that problem is and play to that by offering a solution.  For example, people don’t’ stop by car lots because they want to enjoy the afternoon outdoors.  They come to a car lot because they need a new car.  Maybe their car is too small or has too many miles on it.  Whatever the reason, the salesman will try to determine their motivation for buying and select a car that provides everything the person is looking for.  The fact is, even if someone wasn’t planning on making a purchase that day, they are enticed to commit when they feel like they have found a solution for their problem. 

Know Your Competition

No matter what you are selling, there will always be someone else selling the very same thing.  What is it that sets you apart from the competition?  Familiarize yourself with your competitors and be prepared to explain what makes you different.  You need to be able to convince the client that even if your price might be a little higher, they are getting better quality and service when they choose you.  This doesn’t mean you should insult the competition, as this could cost you the sale.  Rather, praise the competition for their strengths and point out where you can outshine them.

Create a Sense of Urgency

You should always attach a deadline to the deal to push the client to commit.  You might do this by offering a discount or special if they sign up now.  The goal is not to rush the customer, but rather give them a little extra incentive to move forward and commit. 

Does Your Business Need a New Vehicle? Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills

In order for any business to succeed, its employees must have goals and drive.  In business, employees want to succeed and companies want to boost sales.  However, is drive and ambition alone enough to reach these goals?  The fact is it takes more than just ambition to see measurable results and growth in a company.  If your employees seem to be struggling to produce and sales have hit a lull, it might be time to try a new tactic: strengthening your team’s negotiation skills.  While sales techniques, trends, and technology are always changing and evolving, the benefits of good negotiation have remained the same.  Strong negotiation skills can be the difference between a beneficial compromise and a loss.  There will always be conflicts in the business world, but the ability to solve them is a critical component in creating success.  Here are a few ways in which sharpening your team’s negation skills can contribute significantly to your business’s success. 

Build Better Relationships

A negotiation involves two parties trying to come to an agreement when both sides might want different things.  Experienced negotiators understand the importance of listening to the needs of their counterpart, communicating effectively with them, and building trust in the relationship.  When you focus on strengthening the negotiation skills of your team, you are teaching them how to build these personal relationships with clients.  When both parties share a personal relationship it is easier to employ the give and take tactic in order to reach a solution.  If the other party believes that you are genuinely looking for mutual benefit, he or she is far more likely to make a concession.  By strengthening your negotiation skills, you are in turn build better relationships with clients that will be long lasting.  

Deliver Lasting, Quality Solutions

A successful negotiation does not mean “winning” the argument.  Great negotiators understand that a successful negotiation involves reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial for both parties.  When you teach your team how to negotiate properly, they learn that it is better to negotiate for long-lasting quality solutions as opposed to short-term solutions that will not benefit each party in the long run. A good negotiation leaves both parties satisfied and ready to do business again.

Helps to Avoid Conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of business, but employees who have strong negotiation skills know how to avoid conflict or quickly appease it with a peaceful solution. If a salesperson sees themselves as an adversary of the client, both sides are more likely to get defensive and reactive with each other.  However, experienced negotiators know how to work toward mutual agreement by building personal relationships with their clients.  They view their client as a teammate rather than an opponent.

Boost Sales and Increase Productivity

When employees are giving opportunities to strengthen and enhance their negotiation skills, they become more confident in their ability.  In turn, they are more likely to close deals and increase sales.  It is in the best interest of any company to invest in negotiation training.  It will give employees the tools needed to reach success and will lead to increased productivity for the company as a whole.