Why Thinking Ahead in Negotiations Will Help You Succeed

Most people think about negotiation as a win/lose proposition that requires fighting for what you want.  In reality, however, a successful negotiation occurs when two parties communicate openly and strive for mutual benefit.  A good negotiator is not looking to defeat an opponent, but rather seek a win/win outcome that will foster a long-term relationship. If you want to be a successful negotiator, it is imperative that you be well-prepared and lay the groundwork ahead of time.  Below are a few reasons why thinking ahead will help you become a better negotiator.

Negotiation Requires Preparation

Negotiating doesn’t come easily to most people.  For those who think they can just walk into their boss’s office to ask for a raise and just “wing it,” they better not be surprised when they walk out empty handed.  Negotiating effectively requires planning and preparation.  You can prepare yourself by asking some of the following questions:

-What do I want to achieve?

-What other options would be acceptable?

-How can these options benefit the other party involved?

-What problems might I face with my request? How can I solve them?

-How much leverage do I have?

No matter how seasoned of a professional you are, negotiating can be stressful and emotional.  You are much more likely to keep your cool, gain the respect of your fellow negotiators, and come out on top if you maintain control.  Preparation is the key to maintaining such control during a negotiation.

Negotiation is a Process

It is important to look at negotiation as a process, not an event.  Partnering with management and business colleagues is a smart career strategy.  If you want your boss in your corner when it comes time to apply for that promotion, you should think ahead and schedule regular meetings with him where you discuss your goals and achievements.   Likewise, if you spend months building a relationship with a client, chances are they are going to trust you when it comes time to negotiate a big deal.  Thinking ahead empowers you to build trusting relationships so managers, colleagues, and clients will be on your side when it comes time to negotiate.

You Always Need Multiple Solutions

Negotiation is not always black and white.  Sometimes things do not go as planned and when that happens, you need to have a backup plan in place.  Thinking ahead allows you to prepare for a variety of situations.  Not only will you be better prepared to handle different situations, but thinking ahead will give you the confidence you need to handle whatever comes your way.