Negotiations happen every day whether you notice them or not. From where to go to lunch to a large contract with a vendor, negotiations occur constantly. When you find yourself entering a negotiation, there are a handful of crucial tools to keep in your toolbox.
1. Choose Negotiation
Don’t get yourself into a subpar deal because you weren’t willing to negotiate with a vendor or employer. In each business transaction, in every lunchtime decision, and major purchase, you have the power to start a negotiation. Taking a chance to negotiate will often pan out in your favor and if not, chalk it up to good practice. The more you chose to negotiate, the better you get.
2. Understand Your Counterpart
There are two general goals in negotiating, creating value and asserting value. Those who are creating value negotiate to increase the available resources and to find joint gains. On the other side, those who assert value strive to claim the largest share of the existing goods. Just as you map out your plan, try to map out what you expect their plan to be and be prepared with how you will create or assert value for each issue.
3. Check Your Expectations
As you put yourself in the heart of negotiating, consider what your goal is. From creating value to claiming value it’s important to know what you’re fighting for. Entering a negotiation with a win/lose perspective increases your chances of disappointment. Remember, you can “win” and still come up with a bad deal. Sometimes the best deal will be no deal at all. Laying out expectations and goals before negotiating sets you up for more success.
4. Set the Tone
Once you’ve decided it’s time for a big negotiation schedule a pre-negotiation discussion to gain an understanding of what’s on the table. After this initial meeting start the process of reciprocal information sharing and begin to see the hierarchy of interests instead of the simple “I want a lower price per piece.” Remember to focus on problem-solving to set the tone for a successful negotiation.
6. Map it Out
Preparation will largely dictate the success of a negotiation. Set your goals and then rank the relative importance of each issue you plan to discuss. Taking time to map out your plan reveals what is worth fighting for and what is worth giving up.
7. Find a Win-Win Solution
A negotiation doesn’t have to be, and largely should not be a winner-loser situation. You are working with another party to come to an agreement benefiting both of you. Think of the negotiation from the perspective of your counterpart. What would a win-win situation look like for them?
Rather than focusing on the big picture, imagine your life as series of mini-negotiations with each small negotiation moving you closer to your goal. As you enter into even the most important of negotiations, focus on problem-solving. Look at each small problem, negotiate a win-win and move on to what’s next. Remember, you are negotiating to solve a problem, not to come out triumphant.
9. Hold Your Cards Close
Some think being completely transparent in a negotiation is the most efficient way to come to an agreement, however, it is not in your best interest. If one party gives their bottom line and the other side concedes to it, then only one team is making a movement which prevents the deal from moving forward. Instead, keep your important issues as cards to leverage as the negotiation progresses.
10: Manage the Negotiation
As you get your negotiation started, ask a few test questions you already know the answer to. Their answers will give you invaluable insight into how much you can trust information from your counterpart and how much you need to fact check.
With practice and proper planning, you can become a skilled negotiator. Remember, the first step is choosing to negotiate. The more you employ these skills, the better you become at negotiating win-wins for all.