Whether you are negotiating with your teenager on what time to be home, putting together a multi-million dollar deal or requesting a raise or compensation for a new position, you’ll be in a stronger position if you master the art of negotiation.
One of my biggest negotiation moments was when I had to sit down and negotiate a divorce settlement with my ex husband and his lawyer. I was a young 20 something and not only naïve, but had very limited business skills. But what I learned from that experience is that I have business savvy!
I did my research and had a desire to make this as amicable as possible. I wasn’t bitter and looking to get one over on the other side, I wanted us to both feel we reached a fair settlement and applying these same tips, I believe was some of the reason for our successful “deal”.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, in hindsight, I can look back and say “Hey, I did that”.
So, Here are some tips to try out in your next big negotiation.
• Be Prepared. Learn as much as you can about the other side of the table. What are their needs, goals, challenges? What obstacles do they need to overcome? . This is the moment to walk in your opponent’s shoes to learn as much as possible. The more you know, the stronger your position.
• Understand your desired outcome. Start with the end in mind. What are you looking to get out of this deal? What is your opponent? Prepare your data to support your outcome and remember – a fair deal is a win/win for both parties.
• Articulate the value you bring. Know your facts and know them well. A good word of advice is to learn how to dollarize your value so your opponent understands completely what the financial impact would be with agreeing to your terms. Yes, do the math. If you are bringing value that decreases their overall cost, show them how. Calculate it for them. If you are adding more value to their current financial structure, show them how and show them the value.
• Be sure to include your issues – Both sides are trying to reach agreement. Be sure to include your issues or what you need out of the deal. Once all of these are on the table, ask clarifying questions to ensure both sides have highlighted their needs and issues and work from there. Restate their issues and continue to ask them if you missed anything. This shows collaboration and starts to frame the discussion positively.
• Focus on the issues, not the people. – Keep the discussion professional and on the issues. Do not personalize any of the discussion. It is just business. The discussion should not hurt anybody’s feelings so keep the focus on the issues and objective. If you cannot agree on a specific issue, move on and select a smaller item to negotiate to get back to a positive flow.
• Use your “inside voice” – Language can stir up many emotions. Choose your words carefully and use neutral language. Avoid, “I” statements and “You” statements. Lastly, frame your points in a way that lead to your desired outcome. For example, in a salary discussion one way would be “I need to make $X” but a better way to frame the discussion is to say “My research shows me that the fair market value for this position is $ x, which is aligned with my previous compensation packages” – See the difference.
• Silence is a beautiful thing – Most people are uncomfortable in silence. It is a strong negotiation technique. Do not feel compelled to fill the silence with more explanation. The goal is to state your points and shut up. The opposing team talk – chance are they will give you something you can use.
• Know when to walk away – There is always a bottom line. A point where you must walk away and in successful negotiation, you must know what that point is. Remember, if it isn’t a positive experience for all parties involved, there will be trouble down the road.
The most important thing you can learn from the art of negotiation is to be prepared and understand what the other side is trying to achieve. If you know your desired outcome and theirs you can work from there. If you are too far apart in the beginning, the deal will never happen so go in prepared.
Share your favorite negotiation story below. What worked for you?