Many of our daily interactions with others are essentially a series of negotiations. We negotiate with our spouse about chores around the house. We negotiate with friends and family about where to go out to eat. We negotiate with colleagues about who will complete assignments and we negotiate with salespeople on the price of a car. We negotiate many times every day even though most of us don’t ever think about it. For this reason, it can be beneficial to understand the art of negotiation so you can build the skills necessary to capitalize on opportunities.
Preparation is critical to negotiation success. Being well prepared leads to better outcomes and less conflict during discussions. Whether you are negotiating about dinner plans, chores, or even a major purchase, do your homework beforehand and explore all the possibilities so you can be prepared for whatever comes your way. Make sure you have valid information to back up your point of view and look at the situation from another perspective so you can prepare for questions or concerns that might come up. Preparation also means that you have a goal in mind and you have prepared a strategy to help you reach that goal.
Many people fall into the trap of assumptions and this can derail an otherwise successful negotiation. Never assume that you know what the other party is thinking. You don’t know unless you ask. An assumption is nothing more than an educated guess and it can lead to frustration and conflict. Rather, ask the right questions and take a genuine interest in the other party’s needs.
Remember to Listen
Listening is one of the most important aspects of negotiation. Ask questions and take time to listen to the answers. This helps you to build trust with your counterpart, maintain your composure, and keep the negotiation moving forward.
Pay Attention to Nonverbal Cues
Communication is more than just the words that are spoken. Nonverbal communication has just as much influence as things that are said. Pay attention to the other person’s body language, as this can tell you if they are interested, defensive, or unengaged. Use this awareness to your advantages and adjust your tone to help things proceed.
Be Prepared to Make Concessions
Negotiation is about give and take so you have to come prepared to give a little. Prior to the discussion, think about what is most important to you and what you would be willing to concede. For example, if you really want to watch that football game this afternoon you might concede and offer to do a few chores for your wife beforehand. If you are purchasing a car, you might be willing to pay a higher price but you want them to throw in a longer warranty. Negotiations are all about each party making concessions in order to achieve a mutually beneficial solution.