Successful Negotiations: Mastering Persuasion
According to Wikipedia, "Negotiation is a dialogue intended to resolve disputes, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, or to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests. It is the primary method of alternative dispute resolution."
Having said that, negotiations are a huge part of our professional and personal lives — whether you're trying to negotiate a pay raise, the price of an automobile, what restaurant you're having dinner at with your spouse, or even your child's new curfew, negotiation is a key skill at both work and at home. Check out these eight simple negotiation tips and techniques that can significantly improve your daily interactions, and can be applied to just about any difficult situation.
Know what you want — this may sound obvious, but far too often people go into negotiations not knowing what they want to get out of them. If you know exactly what you want, you not only have less of a chance of "caving in" or settling for less than what you deserve, but you can also address your points throughout the negotiation with more conviction and authority.
Be prepared — we've all heard the old saying, "knowledge is power." In the case of negotiations, there couldn't be more truth to this statement! When you have done your homework for any type of negotiation, you automatically put yourself in a better position; the more you know, the better your chances are for speaking in an articulate fashion, and making your key points clear and concise. It's pretty safe to say that once you make one false statement or assertion, your credibility can be lost; therefore, if you prepare adequately, you will be able to speak to many facets of the issues at hand with confidence and conviction—and you'll also give the other negotiators a reason to work a little harder!
Show agreement early — even though it's clear that you're negotiating because there is some degree of disagreement between you and the other negotiators, it is still helpful to establish common ground early on; for instance, "I think we can both agree that we have an issue that we both want to resolve today," is a good way to start the negotiation off on the right foot. It will help set a positive tone, which will help significantly later on in the negotiation when things get more intense.
Demonstrate what's in it for them — how can what you want also bring value to the other party? For example, perhaps you want to negotiate a pay raise with your current employer. You would first want to show your employer what value you are delivering to your organization and your list of accomplishments over the past year (concrete examples work best, and numbers work even better!). If you take the effort to show them why you're such a great employee and why they are lucky to have you on their team, you have a much better chance of getting them to see your point of view.
Walk away if needed — while most people will agree that negotiations should arrive at an acceptable solution for both parties involved, it's still empowering to know your limits and other options. When you say to yourself, "I will walk if I can't get <insert what you want here>," you are more likely to stay composed without appearing desperate or anxious; remember, confidence often intimidates people, so demonstrate your inner strength and force the other party to make concessions.
Listen closely — it's amazing how many people have such a hard time listening. Effective negotiators are like good detectives—they encourage others to talk by asking lots of open-ended questions (questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no") and they intently listen to these responses. Finding out what is important to the other parties involved will allow you to better understand their values and what makes them "tick", so you can spin your negotiation strategies accordingly. This information is vital in creating a productive dialogue, which you can often times use to your advantage when it comes time to influence the direction of the negotiation.
Consider location and timing — whenever possible, arrange your negotiations to be face-to-face, rather than telephone or via email. You will have a more dynamic conversation in person rather than over the phone or through the comfort of your own keyboards.
Get it in writing—a deal is not finished until it is in writing. Immediately after your discussions are finished, take the time to distribute meeting summaries, action items, contracts, or anything else that needs to be addressed as a result of the negotiation. This will help ensure clarity, validity, and that everyone is on the same page.