The Art of Negotiating – In today’s world, the skilled negotiator has the upper hand
When we realize that nearly every aspect of our business and personal lives requires negotiation, the benefit of being a better and more effective negotiator is clear.
Negotiation skills are usually not part of our formal education, even though we use these skills all day, every day. These skills are the foundation of our professional and personal lives. It doesn’t matter if we run General Motors or the corner snowball stand or our households, we all need to communicate and persuade effectively.
What is a negotiation anyway? Negotiation can be explained simply as “working side by side with others to achieve some useful result”. Fortunately, this is a practical skill that can be learned. It’s not a genetic trait we’re born with, like blue eyes or black hair. So regardless of our age or position in life, if we develop a certain attitude towards negotiation, pay attention to improving our skills, then our life will run more smoothly.
Some things to remember when developing a negotiation strategy:
o Act collaboratively, not competitively. It’s not me versus you. When we see the other person as a negotiating partner, we are aware that everyone has to come out with a win. It is a big mistake to think that someone will give you something for nothing. So try to determine what the other person might want in exchange for what you want. And then present your case to show them that if they help you get what you need, you’ll help them get what they need. Make “Mutual Benefit” your mantra.
o Personalize the situation; act as individuals and not as institutions or corporations. You are not talking to “the Chula Bank” but to Charlie Smith, the man sitting in front of you who represents the bank. Flesh and Blood Charlie Smith. Realize that you are negotiating on your own behalf, representing the company. When you see the other person in that light, you can look them in the eye. That eye contact
o Raise your expectations. You usually get what you expect to get. If you don’t think you’ll get the promotion, you probably won’t. If you don’t think you’re going to sign the contract, you probably won’t. There’s no way you’re going to give your best if you’re thinking in the back of your mind that you’re not going to make it anyway. So you can act like you expect to get what you want. You will be pleasantly surprised when you do! You see, when you really expect to get what you’re looking for, others see it in you.
o Know what you want. Sounds simple, right? But surprisingly, there are many times when we go into a negotiation session and say, “Let’s see what they offer us.” Why let the other person decide what you get? No one knows your business or your life like you do. The ability to articulate specific propositions gives you power.
o Stay focused on the real issues. Decide what you absolutely want to go out with; what extras would be good to leave with; and what you can do without if you have to give them up to reach an agreement. Why do you need to determine these things in advance? Because in the heat of battle, you won’t be able to focus on these issues as easily, and you may be very surprised by what you didn’t get or what you gave away.
o Prepare. Do your homework; carefully research the person or company you will be working with. Is the company innovative or stable? Is the person you are negotiating with known to be creative or more traditional? With all the information available on the Internet today, there’s almost nothing we can’t figure out beforehand. Whether we are investigating a corporation or a person. Just Googling someone is likely to bring up something we don’t know. And of course, there’s the old-fashioned way: just ask. Ask industry colleagues (non-competitors) or acquaintances. It shouldn’t surprise you how much people love to talk about what and who and how much they know!
o Make time your ally. Try to understand your partner’s deadline without giving away your own. Why? Because if I know your deadline for solving a problem or reaching an agreement, I can delay any decision until the moment I know you need to make a decision. Most concessions and settlement actions occur near one’s deadline; don’t let it be yours.
These are just a few of the many points needed to learn more about the negotiation process. Will practicing negotiation skills take time and effort? Of course. But becoming a more effective, smarter negotiator will bring you many rewards in both your professional and personal life.
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