When preparing for a negotiation, the negotiator has to prepare in different ways. First, there is the tangible work that is visible to both parties which might include research, strategies, and the actions and words spoken during the negotiation. Then there is also the mental preparation involved such as anticipating the interests, needs, and goals of the other party. The mental preparation for a negotiation also requires the negotiator to assess their own temperament, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and motivations. This inner work might be invisible, but it is equally as important as the tangible work that is presented at the bargaining table. When you know you are going to be up against a tough negotiator, it’s so important to take the time to mentally prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Here are a few things you can do to mentally prepare for a tough negotiation.
Self-Assess your Strengths and Weaknesses
Perhaps you are extremely knowledgeable about finances and budgets but you aren’t as confident when it comes to product awareness. If you know that will play an important role in the negotiation process, get expert help so you can feel confident and prepared. The last thing you want is to enter into a bargaining war feeling fearful or hesitant. Spend time self-reflecting on your personal strengths and weaknesses. Are you a good listener? Do you handle pressure well? Are you able to diffuse conflict when it arises? Do you remain calm and collected or are you easily frazzled and frustrated? Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you better understand what specific areas could be improved. This allows you to enter into the negotiation knowing your inner self is well prepared.
Be Mindful of Your Temperament
Are you someone who is strong, assertive, and confident, or are you easily intimidated by people of greater status or authority? Do you lose your temper easily or do you manage to stay calm even under pressure? Your temperament can have a huge impact on the outcome of your negotiation. Chances are if you are negotiating with someone who is tough, they aren’t going to back down easily. This means that it might be to your advantage to remain calm, sensitive, and focused rather than coming in with arms swinging. That said, you don’t want to be bullied and backed into a corner either. It’s important to anticipate what might come your way and consider how your temperament will affect the situation. If needed, be prepared to adjust your temperament as needed in order to reach an amicable solution.
Develop a Response Plan
If you know you are about to enter into a bargaining war, there’s a high probability that the conversation could become tense. Develop a plan in advance and prepare responses that will allow you to remain calm, yet assertive. Then, practice these responses with a friend or family member who agrees to play the aggressive negotiator. You can get useful insight as to how your own responses might affect the responses of your opponent.
Right before the negotiation, take time for a few mindfulness exercises. These exercises relax the body, open the mind, and allow you to calm yourself so you can be in control of your emotions before you begin the negotiation. Deep breathing exercises and meditation help to calm a negotiator’s anxiety so they have increased attention, better awareness, and more solid concentration during the negotiation process.