Whether you are an artist, a freelancer, an executive, or part of a Fortune 500 company, having sharpened negotiation skills is important for your career. Training in the art of negotiation creates a broader path on the road to financial and professional success. You may be negotiating a million-dollar contract, an improved benefits package, or even with your toddler over fashion choices. No matter what you’re discussing, practicing a few techniques can help you navigate smoothly through even the toughest negotiators. So here are 15 tips on how you can win a negotiation.
- Be Prepared
Preparation is the first step to negotiating successfully. Understand the situation completely. Have a clear sense of what’s at stake and run through all possible scenarios. Ask yourself:
• What am I hoping to get out of this?
• What am I willing to compromise?
• Do I have a solid argument?
• Are my asks reasonable?
• What are the best and worst case scenarios?
• How is the other party likely to respond?
- Your Goals
Know exactly what you’re asking for before you enter the negotiation. Build your case and establish why the other party should consider your request. This helps you stick to your guns and lends credibility to your argument.
- Consider Alternatives
What’s your back-up plan? If you conduct your negotiation successfully, very rarely should you walk away empty handed—even if you didn’t get what you originally asked for. Ask yourself “what’s the best alternative?” and be willing to offer that as an option. Perhaps you didn’t get the raise you asked for, but are you okay with being given more responsibilities that lead to a promotion and raise in the future?
- See the situation from all angles. Try to understand where the other person is coming from; try asking them to tell you about their needs and key concerns.
- Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Always set reasonable goals, but don’t be afraid to strive for the best. If you believe you truly deserve something, ask for it. Some say to ask for more than you’re hoping to get, so your goal seems like a compromise. Whatever you ask for, make sure it’s what you deserve.
- Determine the best timing for the discussion.You’ll want enough time for the discussion and to hold it when all parties are relaxed and not emotional. So take your time when negotiating to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Make all your important points
• Hear the other party out
• Consider everything that is discussed
Don’t rush through a negotiation and don’t be afraid to take some time to think things over before finalizing an agreement.
- Set the scene. Surroundings and climate make a difference to negotiation. Choose the venue carefully as it will reflect how the negotiation may play out. For example, cold and informal boardrooms may inspire hostility, whilst a more informal setting may encourage warmth and agreement.
- Set the tone. At the beginning of a formal negotiation you should set out the terms of engagement. For example, everyone should agree to have a productive and respectful negotiation. This is useful for clarity but also allows you to anchor back if anyone deviates from the point. For example, if one person is becoming obtuse and playing the tough guy, you can remind them that they agreed to be respectful.
- Communication is Key. Proper communication lets you express yourself clearly so the other party understands what you’re asking, is willing to hear you out, and can reasonably negotiate with you. You should:
• Establish trust so the other party feels respected and heard.
• Build a rapport so they can connect with you. Find commonalities so they are more open minded to what you have to say.
• Be personable.
• Maintain professional body language.
• Be calm. The last thing you want is to lose your temper if things get heated.
10. Listen Carefully
You want the other person to feel heard. Their point of view is as valid as yours, so listen to what they have to say. Perhaps they’ve thought of something you haven’t? Maybe, in hearing them out, you’ll rethink your original position and arrive at a better alternative that works for you both.
11. Explore Other Possibilities
Being flexible is sometimes the only way to walk away with a satisfactory outcome. You must be willing to compromise when necessary. Listen to what the other party is willing to offer, determine if it aligns with your goals, and recognize the success of a well-thought-out compromise. If your original request just isn’t being met, it’s better to walk away with your best alternative, or something you hadn’t even thought of, than nothing at all.
12. Be Willing to Concede
Not every negotiation will go according to plan. Perhaps your boss doesn’t have it in the budget to give you a raise this year, or perhaps that professor really doesn’t have enough room in their class for another student. It is the mark of a strong negotiator to absorb these setbacks , concede to the other party, and try a different approach next time.
13. Don’t take the issues or the other person’s behavior personally.
All too often negotiations fail because one or both of the parties get sidetracked by personal issues unrelated to the deal at hand. Successful negotiators focus on solving the problem, which is: How can we conclude an agreement that respects the needs of both parties? Obsessing over the other negotiator’s personality, or over issues that are not directly pertinent to making a deal, can sabotage a negotiation. If someone is rude or difficult to deal with, try to understand their behavior and don’t take it personally.
14. Seek a Win-Win Solution
Tough guys don’t always win. Look for the win-win situation, not out to win. Don’t just think about what the other party can offer you—think about what you can offer the other party. How can you be sure they benefit from your desired outcome as well? What can you do to incentive them? Negotiating efficiently empowers you to fight for what you want—for what’s fair for you—and even when the negotiation isn’t successful, you’ve still made your voice heard. Knowing what you want, conducting yourself professionally, and maintaining an open mind are key to negotiating your way to success!
15. Remember that there will always be a tomorrow.
If the discussion heads in a wrong direction and tempers flare, it’s OK to recommend picking up the discussion on another day, after everyone has an opportunity to take a step back, relax and think.
Also remember – Some deals just don’t work
Some negotiations may hit a brick wall. It may be a good idea to to take a break and regroup, or to be open and discuss the impasse frankly. If all else fails, then perhaps the deal cannot be done. Some deals are not meant to be, new information may come to light, which changes the whole equation – there is nothing to be ashamed of.