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Preparing to Negotiate: Everything You Need to Know Before the Meeting Starts

Negotiations can be stressful, particularly for those who don’t negotiate often. But despite the awkwardness, we are all faced with negotiations at some point in our lives. Many people think the best negotiators are successful because they are naturally quick-witted, but the truth is that the best negotiators are the ones who are prepared. Preparation means having all the necessary information and a detailed plan for the negotiation before it even starts. By preparing in advance, even the most inexperienced negotiators can reach a successful outcome. Here is everything you need to know before you negotiate.

Background Information

Entering into a negotiation blindly can ruin your chances for success. Whatever you are negotiating, you need to learn as much as you can about the current landscape. If you are negotiating salary, what are people in similar positions making? If it’s a sales deal, what are similar solutions going for? If it’s in regards to a particular product or service, what makes that product or service valuable? The more research you can do in advance, the better. Any knowledge or statistics you can bring up during the negotiation will make you appear more competent and will put you in a better position.

Have a Goal in Mind

What are you trying to achieve as a result of your negotiation? You need to have a purpose for the meeting and a goal will give you a foundational direction to the course of the negotiation.

Determine Your BATNA

This negotiation acronym stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. In short, it’s the best option you have if you aren’t able to get exactly what you want. It is critical that you know your BATNA or you might end up getting even less out of the deal. When deciding your BATNA, determining the worst deal you would take and know what you walk-away point is. This will prevent you from caving under pressure.

Prioritize Your Must-Haves and Your Concessions

Before you negotiate, you should always make a list of what is most important to you and what you are willing to concede. For example, you might be willing to take a lower salary but you want the flexibility to work from home. Knowing this list of priorities will help you know what to concede if needed. However, whenever you concede be sure to get something in return.

Determine Your Counterpart’s Needs

You must always remember that a negotiation is two-sided, meaning your counterpart has needs as well. You may not be able to determine exactly what they are,but research can help you find out. For example, perhaps they aren’t as worried about price but they don’t want to feel trapped with a 2-year contract. Knowing this kind of information can help you prepare a better strategy.

5 Tactics to Keep Your Nerves at Bay During Important Negotiations

Negotiating is an art, and one that many people aren’t naturally skilled at doing. For some, even the thought of negotiating makes them anxious. These nerves can intensify if the negotiation involves something really important such as a huge business deal, a salary raise, or winning over that big client. It is important to remember, however, that your perception of the negotiation can have a huge impact on the outcome. If you walk into a negotiation with fear and nerves written all over your face, your counterpart will notice and seize the opportunity to control the negotiation. For this reason, it is important to learn some tips and tricks for staying calm and keeping your nerves at bay during a negotiation. With the right help, you can go from being terrified of negotiating to loving it.

Do Your Homework

The most important thing you should do before any negotiation is adequately research the person or company. Entering into a negotiation blindly will only intensify your nerves. The more you know about the subject and the person you are negotiating with, the more prepared you will be to reach an agreement that is suitable for both parties. For example, if you are negotiating salary, do your homework and find out what similar positions are going for and use that as leverage during your negotiation. If you are negotiating with a client for a product or service, be aware of what similar products and services cost and what sets yours apart from the rest. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the more credible you will appear.

Clearly Define Your Goals

Prior to the negotiation, jot down your goals and know exactly what you want to get out of the negotiation. At the same time, determine your walk-away point. This will keep you from making rash decisions under pressure. If you are aware of your goals and walk-away point right from the start, you won’t be as nervous about speaking up during the negotiation.

Listen Attentively

Active listening is one of the most important tactics for successful negotiation. When you listen intently, you are able to gather more information about the needs, concerns, and feelings of the other person. This can help you to steer the negotiation in the right direction. Furthermore, when you listen and take a sincere interest in the other person’s needs, this creates a more positive negotiating environment and reduces the chances that things will get heated.

Take a Break if Needed

If the discussions begin heading in the wrong direction or you begin to feel yourself getting anxious, it’s perfectly acceptable to recommend picking up the conversation on another day. This gives everyone an opportunity to take a step back, relax, and think.

Practice

One of the best ways to calm your nerves is to practice what you are going to say. Run through several different scenarios and how you will react to each situation. The more prepared you are on the day of the negotiation, the less likely you will be to feel anxious and nervous.

7 Negotiation Tactics We Can Learn From These Famous Politicians

Sometimes history is made through great negotiations and it’s the work of these famous politicians that have prevented wars, averted crisis, and helped shape the future of their country. While most of us will never be in a position to negotiate a peace treaty, we still enter into negotiations every day and can learn a thing or two from these famous politicians.

1. Zoom in Zoom Out

Henry Kissinger served as Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford. His negotiations with world leaders helped shape the geography, public policy, and laws that mark the 21st century and he is regarded as one of the greatest political negotiators of the 20th century. Kissinger is best known for his “zoom out” and “zoom in” strategy in which he zooms out to the bigger picture and the broader strategy and then zooms in to execute it. He had the ability to see both the broad picture and foster communication and trust with his counterparts. His successful strategy allowed him to forge peace with the Soviet Union in order to open negotiations with China and end American involvement in the Vietnam War.

2. Look for What Unites You and Your Counterpart

John F. Kennedy’s ability to negotiate became evident during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he successfully averted a nuclear war with Russia. Kennedy always understood the importance of negotiation and made that evident in his inaugural address when he said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But never let us fear to negotiate.” His approach involved looking for what problems unite as instead of fighting over those which divide us.

3. Never Fear Negotiations

Roosevelt’s most famous negotiation was the New Deal, which allowed Americans to get back to work after the Great Depression. He is famous for saying, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” and he used this as a way to motivate the country during some of the darkest times but this is still a great tactic for today’s negotiators. People involved in negotiations may face many fears like the fear of failure or rejection, but fear only creates negative emotions. However, if you take a win-win approach and there is no winner and no loser, you should have nothing to fear when negotiating.

4. Know Who You’re Negotiating With

You should never underestimate a brand or person you haven’t done business with before. It is crucial to find out everything you can about someone before you enter into the negotiations so you develop an appropriate strategy.

5. Listen to the Other Side

Negotiations are not about talking as much as they are listening to what is happening on the other side. This was something that John F. Kennedy knew quite well. He knew that the key to a successful deal was asking open-ended, relevant questions and then listening to the response of the other side. This provides crucial information that can help you steer the negotiation in the right direction.

6. Look for Opportunities for Mutual Gain

Many business people think of negotiations as a competition in which one side wins and one side loses. However, butting heads right out of the gate won’t usually get you anywhere. This was another tactic commonly used by many famous politicians, particularly Nikita Krushchev in regards to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite being Kennedy’s opposite, he was willing to work peacefully toward a common goal.

7. Set Goals and Stick to Them

Teddy Roosevelt was well known for many things, bit among them was his reputation for being stubborn as a bull. He knew what was important to him and he was unwilling to budge on important issues. This doesn’t mean you have to enter negotiations without the willingness to concede at time, but it does mean that you should determine your walk-away point and never concede on things that are most important to you.

Being a Good Negotiator Means Being an Active Listener

Don’t miss an opportunity to close a deal by not listening. There are countless tips and tricks out there for negotiating successfully but few of them are as powerful and effective as active listening. It may seem simple enough, but many people are not skilled listeners and the art of listening is often overlooked in negotiations. However, active listening is a vital skill that directly impacts the direction of the negotiation. Many problems in negotiations are attributed to poor listening and communication skills, so make sure your listening skills are up to par.

What is Active Listening?

Active listening involves engaging your mind in such a way that the person speaking to you has your undivided attention. Rather than listening to hear, you are listening to understand. One can demonstrate active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding in agreement, relaying the same information back to the speaker for clarity, asking for more information or clarification, acknowledging and responding to the speaker’s feelings, validating their opinion rather than questioning it, and asking open-ended questions. Active listening is done with the intent to fully understand the other’s party’s point of view.

How Does it Impact Negotiations?

While it may sound simple, it actually takes some training and requires discipline and practice. Oftentimes when someone is speaking, we are thinking about how we will respond and our attention quickly shifts back to our own way of thinking. Although we might still be hearing the words, our mental attention is long gone. If you are listening with the objective to prove your own point of view, you often make assumptions and misunderstand what the other person is saying. This selective listening inhibits our ability to make a fair rebuttal and makes us appear less empathetic, trustworthy, and likable. Conversely, active listening keeps you attune to the needs of your counterpart so you can offer a reasonable solution.

Here are a Few Ways to Develop Listening Skills:

*Don’t Interrupt- Good listeners always let the other person finish speaking before opening their mouth. If you have a question along the way, write it down and continue to give the speaker your undivided attention. If you stop the speaker too soon, you may have cost yourself valuable information.

*Listen with Your Body- Show that you are listening through body language. Maintain eye contact, nod every so often, smile when appropriate, and lean in to show you are focused. This shows the other person that you are paying attention to everything they are saying.

*Paraphrase- After your counterpart has finished speaking, paraphrase what they said to show them that you have understood what they said.

*Ask for Clarification- Never make assumptions. Always ask for clarification if you are unsure about something that was said.

*Acknowledge Them- You don’t necessarily have to agree with everything the other party says, but demonstrate that you value their point of view. Be sincere when you acknowledge them and remain respectful. This creates a very positive negotiating environment.

The Benefit of Virtual Training For Negotiations

Negotiations are essentials in our everyday lives, and especially in the business environment. The power of negotiations will enable one to get a fair or better deal, ensuring that your objectives and goals are achieved. To be a good negotiator, one needs to undergo certain specified training to equip them with adequate skills and knowledge necessary for them to effectively carry out tasks. One of the most effective tools in enhancing the acquisition of the necessary skills and knowledge in negotiations is by use of virtual training. We bring to you the benefits of virtual training for negotiations as highlighted below:

Why virtual training?

Virtual training recreates a real-life, bit by bit experience of learning, enhances the acquisition of the appropriate techniques and on-field negotiation experience. through the virtual training, the trainees can explore simulated examples of possible negotiation scenarios, helping them have an insight into this important aspect.
In the current business environment, many contract negotiations are effectively carried out through the use of technological media, with virtual setup being one of the largest platforms.

Advantages of virtual training in negotiations

Virtual training presents an opportunity to equip the trainee with the vital skills required to make convincing and informed negotiations. Rather than physical meetups, virtual negotiations present numerous benefits to all the involved parties. Once the trainee acquires the necessary skills and knowledge, they can effectively engage in active negotiations that will immensely benefit them at their places of work.

Through virtual training, the trainee will get an opportunity to interact with other like-minded trainees and share experiences through live discussion groups. The trainee will eventually turn out to be an incredible deal-breaker in negotiations, giving them an upper hand in brokering business deals. The virtual human presented through simulations in virtual training presents a one-on-one experience. Through the gained experience, the trainee with on-job experience, skill, and courage to carry out effective communication during negotiations. Virtual training is also more affordable compared to traditional in-person training. Virtual training for negotiation allows the trainee to have convenient and efficient training opportunities while they continue to engage in their work activities.

The benefits of virtual negotiations include the following:

Cost-cutting- virtual training is more affordable when compared to traditional in-person training techniques. Training using the virtual platforms in negotiations will cut down on the travel expenses of both parties. Other expenses include the need for booking hotels or conference rooms to proceed with the negotiations which in most cases is very costly. Virtual negotiations only require access to a computer device and reliable internet access.
Increased efficiency- if you are looking to improve efficiency, then virtual training for negotiations is the way to go. This medium of engaging in negotiations is timely and convenient for all parties involved. Everyone involved in the negotiations is guaranteed improved efficiency through the use of virtual platforms. Virtual negotiations occur in real-time, ensuring that the parties can actively give their input.

Shortens cycle- virtual negotiations save on time that would otherwise have been used in traveling and setting up the meet up in in-person training. The cycle of the meeting is massively shortened by the use of virtual negotiations, making it easy and fast to hold the necessary negotiations and save on time.

To be an effective negotiator, you need to undergo proper training, with virtual training presenting the most efficient, convenient, and affordable training opportunity. Through virtual training, you will gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience by engaging in live, simulated learning structure. virtual training confers immense benefits for employees looking to gain adequate negotiation skills needed at the work and business environment.

Don’t Negotiate Yourself Out the Door…Stop While You’re Ahead

Negotiation can be a tricky process to navigate. All too often, people find that they are on the road to achieving their desired outcome, only to push too hard and end up losing everything they had worked so hard to gain. If you get too greedy in a negotiation, you can end up feeling like a fool. When you are in the process of negotiating, it’s important to know when to stop so you don’t push the envelope. Here are a few strategies to help you identify when it’s time to exit the negotiation.

Develop a Bracket System
Prior to your negotiation, you need to sit down and identify the high, middle, and low ranges of your wants. This will serve as a guideline during the negotiation to keep you from sounding greedy. For example, if your desired salary is $50k, you should use the bracket technique and request a range between $50k and $60K. Rather than asking for $50k upfront, this technique increases your chances that you will get something closer to your target salary because it doesn’t come across as too greedy.

Interpret the Other Negotiator
Body language, facial expression, and social cues are very important during a negotiation, as they signal critical information. Pay close attention to the behavior of your counterpart and make sure you are accurately reading their body language. They may be giving you signals that they are getting irritated or annoyed with your demands. If you are unsure of how they are feeling, stop and clarify before progressing. You don’t want to be perceived as too greedy.

Remember it’s About Give and Take
There is no such thing as a one-sided negotiation. Negotiation is all about coming up with a solution in which both parties involved feel like they have gained something of value. Therefore, you cannot make the negotiation all about you. When your counterpart is agreeing to give you something you want, be sure to reciprocate. Otherwise, you might appear too greedy and they might rescind their offer.

Don’t Let Things Drag On
People tend to negotiate more earnestly when they feel the pressure of time ticking away. Therefore, you must be able to recognize when you are ahead and not allow the negotiation to drag on too long. When people have too much time, they begin to rethink things and they might change their minds.

Watch for these Social Cues When Closing a Deal

Social cues are a critically important aspect of communication. They are feelings and emotions that are expressed through body language, tone, and facial expressions and they are intended to send a message. These nonverbal cues help guide us through interactions with others and having the ability to understand and interpret social cues can greatly improve your skills as a communicator and negotiator. It will allow you to read the other person’s behavior and respond accordingly. Here are a few social cues to look for when you are trying to close the deal in a negotiation.

Eye Contact
During a negotiation, eye contact is a critical social cue. It is even more important when you are closing the deal because it shows that the other party is actively listening. It is equally important for you to make eye contact with your counterpart, as this shows you are confident in your ability and you mean what you say.

Furrowed Brow
Be conscious of your counterpart’s facial expressions throughout the negotiation, as these social cues can signal different things. A furrowed brow, for example, is an indication that the person is confused or annoyed by what you are saying. If you happen to notice this cue, assume they are confused and look for another way to explain yourself.

Fidgeting
Just as darting eyes can signal disinterest, fidgeting can be a sign of anxiety. If you notice your counterpart fidgeting during the negotiation, chances are they are uncomfortable and anxious about the conversation. For example, if you are talking to someone and they begin to play with their hair, shift from one foot to another, or start playing with their hands, this is a universal sign of discomfort. Either they are losing interest or they are uneasy about the conversation. At this point, be sure and clarify any misunderstandings and give them a chance to ask questions or chime in. Likewise, be aware of your own fidgeting so as not to signal nervousness.

Smile
A smile is one of the most common and important social cues. People generally smile when they are happy or amused so this is typically a good sign when you are closing a deal. If your counterpart is smiling, it’s safe to assume they are happy with the deal.

Crossed Arms
If your counterpart begins crossing their arms as they listen to you, they might be preparing a defensive stance. Crossed arms can signal displeasure, anger, or frustration, so be watchful for this behavior.

Moving Closer or Farther Away
You can communicate with your body just as effectively as you can with your words. For instance, if you lean in to hug someone and they back away, they are telling you they don’t want you to hug them. During a negotiation, you might notice the other person lean in closer as you speak. This signals that they are interested in what you are saying and they want to know more. Conversely, if they begin backing away, it’s a sign that they disagree or have lost interest in the conversation. Watch for this movement so you know how and when to adjust your pitch.

How to Get Buy-In From Your Team Using These Subtle Techniques

Managers are faced with many challenges, but among the hardest, is getting their employees to embrace change. Whether they are trying to win new business, implement new strategies, or convince their team that their solution will work, persuading a team can be an uphill battle. People are creatures of habit so it’s not always easy to get employees to buy into new ideas. So, what can be done to increase your chances of getting employees to comply? Here are a few subtle techniques that can help you persuade and influence your team.

Make it Worth Their Time
People tend to have the “what’s in it for me?” attitude when it comes to change. When you are trying to persuade someone to buy into your ideas, you must talk about what’s in it for them. You need to have concrete examples of how your ideas are going to benefit your team. It doesn’t take much convincing if people think they are getting something beneficial out of it.

Give People Free Will
If there’s one thing employees hate, it’s working for a boss who acts like a dictator. Managers who make demands rarely get their employees motivated about their ideas. If you want to get someone to buy into your ideas, you can’t be obvious about it. Otherwise, people are going to push back because they feel like they have lost their free will to make their own decisions. For example, if you want to get your team to buy into the idea that you should have team lunches once a week, you might say to them, “It’s nice that we have so many restaurants close by for a quick lunch. I mean, it would be nice to gather together once a week and chat with each other, but I guess it’s nice for everyone to unplug for a bit each day.” This way, you aren’t forcing the idea of team lunches, but you are sharing your thoughts out loud. This is a subtle technique that is effective for persuading others.

Make it Sound Like it was Their Idea
Another great way to influence your team is to make them feel like the idea was theirs from the beginning. For example, if you are trying to convince you team to implement a new work strategy, you could say something like, “I know you have always wanted to make this process more efficient and this would be a great way for you to finally get this task done faster.” Instead of telling people what you want them to do, this empowers them and makes them feel like it was their idea.

Focus on Them
It’s not common for people to go the extra mile for someone they don’t like. Therefore, it’s best to get your employees on your side. You can do this by taking a genuine interest in them and making it a point to ask about their family, pets, hobbies, vacations, and dreams. If you simply give people a chance to talk about themselves, they are more likely to develop a personal relationship with you. Then, when it comes time for a change, they are more likely to buy into your ideas because they like you.

Don’t Let Emotions Rule You During Important Negotiations

The ability to negotiate well isn’t an easy feat, but one of the most common challenges for people is learning how to take their emotions out of the negotiation. Humans are hardwired to have emotions, as this is what helps us survive. Our emotions are evidence of our beliefs and passion and they also help us to influence and persuade others. Emotions play an important role in our communication with others and therefore shouldn’t be ignored altogether. However, it is important to learn how to control your emotions during a negotiation. Fear, anger, defensiveness, and threats can result if you allow people to push your hot buttons during a negotiation. Developing an awareness of your emotions can help you learn how to manage your emotions rather than just reacting to them. Controlling your emotions can help you achieve your desired outcome, so consider these tips for keeping your emotions in check during the negotiation process.

Mentally Prepare Ahead of Time
Prior to the negotiation, consider what could possibly happen that would trigger your emotions, What would make you feel angry, irritated, or frustrated? Consider what you could do to help maintain emotional control in this situation. Have a plan in place so you know what steps to take if you begin to feel emotional during the negotiation. Once you know your emotional triggers, practice with a friend and get them to engage in behaviors that are likely to cause a reaction. Then, practice responding in a cool, calm, and collected manner.

Be Aware of Your Emotions
In order to control your emotions, you must first learn how to recognize them. It is important to develop an awareness of early signs of emotional distress. For example, do you find that your breathing gets shorter? Do your muscles tighten up? Do you begin talking louder or faster? Does your body begin to feel hot? Pay attention to the way your body responds to emotional triggers so you can react accordingly.

Take a Break if Needed
The best way to control your emotions during a negotiation is to avoid reacting immediately. Buy yourself some time by hitting the pause button. Take breaks when you begin to feel angry or uncomfortable. You can take a trip to the bathroom, step outside for fresh air, or grab a cup of coffee. This physical break will give your body a chance to calm down and you can take a few minutes to gather your thoughts.

Give Yourself Time
Oftentimes our emotions run rampant when we feel pressured to make a decision. You avoid emotional breakdowns by giving yourself time and avoiding the pressure to make quick decisions. Whenever possible, give yourself time to sleep on things before making a decision.

Set Goals for Yourself
Once you learn what triggers your emotions, set specific goals for how you are going to manage conflict and your emotions. Anticipate the issues and behaviors that are likely to cause strong emotion and develop a plan for dealing with it. Write down your goals and go over them several times before you begin the negotiation. You can also take them with you as a reminder in case you find yourself getting emotional during the conversation.

5 Communications Exercises That Will Make You a Better Negotiator

Regardless of what industry you work in, there are always negotiations that take place on a daily basis. It may be simple things like negotiating where to hold the next team meeting or it could be much more important like working out the details of a big contract. Whatever the situation, business professionals need to be skilled negotiators and good communication skills are the key to negotiation success. If you want to become a powerful negotiator, consider these communication exercises to enhance your negotiation skills. 

Practice Bartering

We have been conditioned to believe that the price printed on the tag is the final price for the product. However, this isn’t always the case. While some items, such as groceries and clothing, might not be negotiable, many other items and services are. These include things like furniture, cars, home appliances, closeout items, and pretty much all services. When you find a product or service that you would like to purchase, try negotiating for a better price. It’s important to remember that you will feel like you have won by getting the lower price while the seller will feel like they have won your business. This is a great example of how to communicate effectively towards a win-win solution. This exercise will also build your confidence for your next business negotiation. 

Listen and Draw

One of the most important components of communication is the ability to listen. This next exercise works to improve your listening skills, as it requires the participants’ full attention. You will gather in a small group and hand out a piece of paper and a pen to each participant. Then, the leader will give verbal instructions to draw an object, one step at a time. As the exercise continues, it will get progressively harder so participants must listen carefully. At the conclusion of the exercise, everyone will compare their drawings to see how accurate they turned out. This is a great exercise to emphasize the importance of active listening during a negotiation in order to avoid misunderstandings. 

Role-Playing Scenarios

There is nothing better for developing your negotiation skills than role-playing with a friend or colleague. Role-playing allows you to practice real-life negotiation skills in a safe and comfortable setting. It gives you the opportunity to rehearse what it feels like to have a little pressure on the table. Your partner can also provide important feedback so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. 

The Power of “No!”

For a novice negotiator, their biggest fear is hearing the word “no.” When we hear that word, we might feel like we have lost the negotiation and doubt our abilities. However, “no” is not always the final answer. It simply means it’s time to readjust your tactics and take a different approach. Practice negotiating a scenario where you hear the word “no” and look for new ways to provide solutions. The more you practice this exercise, the more accustomed you will become to hearing “no” and you will know exactly how to adjust. 

Learn to Adapt

Negotiations don’t always go as planned so practice for the inevitable with an adaptation exercise. Choose a friend or colleague and practice a negotiation scenario in which you have to adapt and make some changes. Could you offer a concession in return for something else? Rehearse how you will communicate these changes effectively to your counterpart. This will prepare you for those negotiations that might involve unexpected issues.