5 tips to help improve your negotiating skills
You probably don’t realise how often in your daily life you’re required to negotiate and the decision making process that you go through (whether this is consciously or subconsciously) in order to get a result that you want. But negotiating isn’t just about getting what you want because in business, negotiations are about compromise. By learning a simple process to help structure your negotiation, you’ll be able to negotiate more confidently and in turn achieve better results.
This Negotiating Cheat Sheet sets out five simple steps that will give you clear and concise process to follow during negotiations.
1. Start with the end in mind
Any negotiation should start with your ultimate objective in mind. This will be a helpful anchor point once the negotiations start as there are always issues in a negotiation that will distract you from your key objective. Keeping your key objective in the front of your mind will help focus your negotiations and ensure that you don’t get bogged down in issues that aren’t important to you or your ultimate goal.
2. What are the ‘deal-breakers’?
Compromise is a given in any negotiation and once you’ve identified what your key objectives are, you also need to identify what are the deal breakers. Sometimes your deal breakers will be financial, for example, in a lease negotiation you may be can’t go higher on rent, or maybe you’re negotiating a job for tender and won’t accept longer payment terms. Whatever the reason behind them, the deal breakers should be the first thing (or things) that are negotiated to avoid wasting your time or the other party’s time. If its a big enough issue that you’re willing to walk away from a deal, then don’t include the issue in a larger list and hope the other side won’t notice.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Your negotiating style will vary depending on the relative bargaining position of the parties. If you’re on a fairly even playing field, you may concede on smaller issues provided that your main concerns are resolved in your favour. In situations where there is a large power imbalance with the other party holding most of the bargaining position, you’re more likely to let most of the small issues take a back seat to ensure that you have a better chance at negotiating on your deal breaker items. It’s important that when you’re negotiating with a party that holds the bargaining position that you don’t try and fight over every small detail. They will be much more willing to help reach a middle ground on your main concerns if you can show that you’re taking a reasonable approach to the negotiation.
4. Don’t just think about yourself.
While you should know what your outcome of the negotiation is, don’t forget to put yourself in the other party’s shoes. While there’s no way of knowing what someone else is thinking, you can try and think about what would be the key drivers for the other side in a negotiation. This will help you decide which battles to fight and let the other party score a few wins during the negotiation on points that may be of high importance for them but of lower importance for you.
5. Don’t forget to give reasons.
There’s nothing worse in a negotiation when someone make a request and holds to that position without any explanation or reasoning. By giving some context to your request, you’ll be able to show the other party why you’re request is important to you. There are times where you may want to withhold some details about your key objectives, but you will find that negotiations will stall very quickly if you make a repeated request without explaining why the request is important to you. If you’ve given reasons for a request and the other party still doesn’t agree, providing context for your request can open up discussion for both parties to think about alternatives that can still achieve what you’re asking for.
Negotiating is a skill that improves with practice but there are times where negotiations can be assisted by having a third party involved, such as a lawyer.
If you need tailored advice to help with your next negotiation, whether it’s assisting you to prepare for negotiations or negotiating on your behalf, you can contact Principal Lawyer, Emilia Cardillo by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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