Negotiating is an art form. It gives you great power. And if you know how to negotiate correctly, if you know how to structure negotiations so that others get what they want, and you get what you want, you will be a lot more successful in life. Not only that, but a great deal of pressure, stress, and friction will be removed from your life.
A skillful negotiator is a person who moves ahead in the business world. He or she has a skill that today is used in everything from getting a raise to delegating an unwanted assignment to reaching a business agreement worth millions.
Negotiation is not a matter of making concessions or butting heads. Good negotiation is based on principle and deciding issues based on their merits. When you bargain over positions, you get locked in and get sidetracked from meeting both parties’ concerns, and that makes getting an agreement much harder.
Here are three critical points you must incorporate into any negotiation to have a successful outcome:
1. Separate the people from the problem, the relationship forms the substance of the negotiation. Try to view the situation for the other person’s perspective and provide opportunities for both of you to express your emotions. Pay attention, listen, and do whatever you can to build a working relationship.
2. Focus on interests, not positions. You know your interests, the ones that have caused you to take your position. Now try to figure out the other person‘s. Acknowledge his or her interests; give the person on the other side positive support equal in strength to the vigor with which you emphasize the problem.
3. Invent options for mutual gain. Then broaden your options, looking for room to negotiate. Look for mutual gain by identifying shared interests. These opportunities exist in every negotiation. You need to stress them in order to make the negations smoother and more amicable. Always look for ways to make the other person’s decision easy. So look for possible agreements early in the process.
Frame each issue in the negotiation process as a bridge for objective criteria, as if you assume the other party is doing the same thing. Reason soundly and be open to reason. But yield only to principle, not pressure. When you feel pressure, invite the other side to state their reasoning. Then suggest objective criteria, and refuse to budge except on this basis.
Sometimes you’re not negotiating on a level playing field. The other side may be richer, better connected, have a larger staff, or have more powerful weapons. You can’t change that, but you can protect yourself from making a bad agreement. Before negotiations start, know the worst outcome you’ll accept. Keep that in mind as your bottom line. At the same time, make the most of all your assets. Know what you’ll do if the negotiations fail. Be willing to break off the negotiations if you can’t reach an acceptable agreement.
You’re always going to encounter people who won’t budge from their positions. Don’t push back. In these cases, silence is always your best weapon. It can create the impression of a stalemate, which will cause the other side to break by offering something different.
Never loose sight of the fact that settlements are negotiated because they’re beneficial to both sides. Before you enter the negotiation, do your homework. Amass enough factual information to back up the case you want to make. Think about the person your negotiating with. What are his or her likes? Dislikes? Is he or she flexible? Or Narrow-minded? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will happen if you get what you want? When, where, and how will the negotiations be scheduled? Before you enter into any negotiation, you should rehearse them first with a friend or a colleague.
Leave nothing to chance. One of the most basic details is the place and time of the negotiating session. A neutral location is always best if you can arrange it. Keep the meeting free of any distractions. Studies have shown that the best time to have a negotiating session is around 11a. m. , because this is the time when most people are at their peak efficiency. Early in the week is better too. Never have a negotiating session on a Friday because people are thinking about the weekend.
Start the negotiating session by identifying all the parties involved, the person or persons who are in a position to sit down with you and negotiate. If one is obviously not right, broaden the discussion group to include others. And remember that just because you’ve identified the people who are committed to the negotiation doesn’t guarantee it will always happen. Sometimes the opportunity to negotiate is just not there.
Use props and personal attitudes to dress up your negotiations and build credibility and impact. Start off with an air of formality. It will give you room to maneuver that you loose if you open more casually. Use some sort of prop to help you control the pace of the session. For example, carefully prepared research notes, video, or audio tape will help. Make sure you give the other person something, such as a photocopy of your material, that perhaps captures his or her attention and allows you to lead the conversation.
Leverage is a very important tool to use in negotiating. Leverage is the ability to get multiple benefits from your assets. Truthful self-evaluation is the key to the successful use of leverage. For example, if you have a certain type of character, admit it and use it to your own advantage.
You should always try to use leverage to maximize your efforts. But never use it in unproductive ways with the other person. For example, many people negotiating for a job begin with two strikes against them because their resume’ includes too much that is not applicable to the job. Be selective. Negotiation is communication. Don’t confuse the main issues by heaping on irrelevant factors.
Never abuse the person you’re negotiating with. For example, you’ll get a lot more by using “I really wish I could afford to pay you what this fine old house is worth" than with “This old junk pile is about to fall over, and it will take a lot to get it in shape, so here’s my top offer. "
For every gain you make, give something back in return, even if it is little more than a formality. It’s important for you to have a clear mind as to what you want and what you can afford to give up. Remember, the shortest distance between two positions in any negotiation is never a straight line.
A successful negotiator is an expert at clarifying and conveying a point of view to the other person. So never be afraid of offending someone with simplicity. First, break up your discussion into compact and understandable little bites of information and begin to discuss them with the person you’re negotiating against. Next, let the other person think about the information. But don’t take on faith that all the key points have been communicated. Keep returning to them. A little redundancy won’t hurt. Most people will actually enjoy hearing information again that they have just learned.
There are five key signs you should look for that indicate the negotiations are turning in your favor:
1. Fewer counterarguments.
2. Both sides’ points are close together.
3. The other person talks about final arrangements.
4. The other person extends a personal invitation to you and your spouse.
5. The other person is willing to put the agreement in writing.
Cement the completed negotiations by setting up a meeting to sign the agreement. Never put the formal agreement in the mail. Be a good winner. Never gloat. You’re in the game for the long run. Send the other person a thank-you letter, noting that you look forward to a long working relationship.
Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America’s largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.
Reach Joe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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