The ability to negotiate is a skill that can help you no matter what industry you are in. Most professionals will spend some part of their career negotiating, whether it be with customers, colleagues, or employers. While it is a common business practice, many people are not experienced negotiators and might end getting pushed around at the bargaining table. For this reason, it is important to understand some basic principles of negotiation so you can stick to them when you sit down with your counterpart.
Know what you want to accomplish.
If you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, how will you know if your negotiation was successful? Prior to sitting down at the table, you need to have a clear understanding of exactly what you want to accomplish. Having a defined goal will allow you to develop a strategy to help you achieve your desired outcome. It will also help you to determine your walk-away point. Throughout the negotiation, be sure and stay focused on your goal and stick to your plan.
Develop a strategy.
It’s not enough to simply have a goal in mind. You also need to prepare for your negotiation by devising a detailed plan. Know what you are going to offer and when you plan to offer it. Have a list of concessions prepared beforehand and an idea of when you plan to use them. You also want to know what you plan to ask for in return. Consider adding decoys such as “nice-to-have items” that are not essential to your overall success. Be prepared to change gears if your counterpart seems unwilling to budge and plan for the unexpected. Preparing a strategy will make you more confident and it will also help you to stay on track and stick to your goals.
Know the full range and strength of your power.
One of the reasons people set low aspirations is because they underestimate the strength of their position and their negotiating skills. If you enter into a negotiation with the assumption that your counterpart is more skilled than you and has a better position, than it typically proves to be true. Rather, identify your own strengths and the power of your own position and stick to that power throughout the negotiation.
Remain respectful and trustworthy at all times.
Let’s be honest-the world isn’t fair and people can be ruthless, especially when it comes to negotiating. There might be times when you are faced with a bully negotiator that is willing to use hardball tactics to intimidate and frustrate you. In these situations, remember to hold true to your own principles of honesty and integrity and don’t sink to their level. Calmly and respectfully try to steer the conversation in a different direction and don’t be afraid to call a time-out or walk away if needed. It’s not worth running your own reputation.
Seek a win-win outcome.
If you want to secure a strong and professional ongoing relationship, it’s important to seek a win-win result. If your counterpart feels that they are being treated unfairly, this could damage the relationship between you, which could affect future negotiations. In the long run, maintaining a good relationship is more important than a win-lose outcome.