How can you improve your skills as a successful negotiator? That was the topic of my speech that I presented on Wednesday, March 21.
You may think Donald Trump or your favorite political candidate is the best negotiator. In fact, you are your best negotiator. You’ve been negotiating since you were born and cried for food to the present when you negotiated for your job. Negotiating has been your way of life. People invented language to negotiate.
Room for improvement exists for any skill. These are the strategies and tips that I spoke about during my talk.
Have confidence in yourself as a negotiator. A negotiator is best when he or she is speaking freely. A negotiation is another form of conversation. How do you feel when a telephone solicitor reads a sales script to you? You know the solicitor has a one-way conversations in mind. Your needs, wants, problems, and concerns are not in the script. A confident negotiator converses with the other party.
Are You Negotiating with the Right Party?
Before you begin negotiations, ask yourself if you are negotiating with the right person. Does this person have the character, competency, and power to negotiate? If he or she lacks one of these, you’ve not found the right person.
Be Outcome Aware
Be outcome oriented when negotiating. Your negotiations can end one of three ways with these associated consequences:
Lose-Lose: Neither party benefits, and in some case the negotiations damage the personal relationships or the situation become worse. Two people trying to get the best of each other lacks food faith and can create new problems.
Win-Lose: A one-sided wins usually means that one party is has control over the other and is asserting power, not negotiating for a mutual increase in value. These are episodic relationships and result is only as good as the power of the victor to enforce it.
Win-Win: The parties agreed to an exchange that creates new value that increases wealth, status, knowledge, or well-being. Each party has improved his or her reputation by negotiating in good faith and has built a relationship for future negotiations and agreements.
Prepare Your Thinking and Speaking for the Negotiations
Analyze the Situation
Do your homework by working on these four areas to negotiate at your best:
- Understand your position and define it by writing down your wants, needs, problems, and concerns.
- Understand the other party’s position by listening and asking questions to discover his or her wants, needs, problems, and concerns. Probe for hidden concerns by using empathy and avoiding value judgments.
- Figure out how you can most clearly state your position so that you will be heard.
- Create an organized list of the options you will propose for each term you will negotiation. For non-negotiable terms, prepare to politely but firmly say, “I will not negotiate on that item.”
Lead the Discussion
Remember that you are in a conversation. Keep reminding everyone at the table that you seek an agreement that serves the interests of all parties.
Keep a win-win outcome in mind by reviewing how the points of agreement are serving your wants, needs, problems, and concerns. A win-win is not necessarily a compromise agreement. Your aim is not to compromise. Your aim is to be heard, understand the other party’s positions, and explore the options that serve the interests of both parties. That could mean getting everything you ask for, agreeing to the other party’s proposal, or fashioning alternatives that serve you both.
While negotiating, listen without judgment to the other party’s options, in the same way that you intend your options to be heard. If an option is unacceptable, say so with the reason it is unacceptable, which can include, “I will not negotiation on that option.”
Keep Flow in the Negotiations
A good conversation needs the grease of small talk. While you will stick to the issues during direct negotiations, light conversation about sports or personal interests keeps the conversation flowing during breaks and downtime.
Your negotiating style shapes the agreement and builds your reputation. A reputation for an honest and direct negotiating style may be the most important result from the negotiations. Your good reputation will encourage the other party to honor the agreement and open the door for future agreements.
Be likable and watch your language. People like to do business with a cheerful and appreciative person and will avoid a curmudgeon.
Enjoy yourself as you negotiate. People will see your upbeat temperament and want to mirror it. Work to create an agreement that serves the interests of all the parties, including those not at the table.