Learning to negotiate has been a big part of my career success. From selling a firm’s services to negotiating a pay rise….I have done it all! Although I do not label myself a ‘guru’ in the field, it still comes as a surprise how widely the term ‘successful negotiation’ remains misunderstood. Excellent quantitative analysis goes a long way but it is the high EQ that goes the extra mile! In a world where everyone dreams of possessing the superpower of getting what they want when they want, we must remind ourselves that the best deals are struck when terms and ideas are incorporated from both parties.
I want you to think about this for a second - have you noticed how good listeners and people with collaborative mindsets tend to glide effortlessly through life? Their superpower is understanding that not everyone will think the way they do. Mastering this approach in the workplace is a start but eventually you will find it can work wonders in your personal life too (say hello to more life satisfaction).
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Before the Negotiation
• Know your opponent and come prepared! Put yourself in their shoes, do thorough research and prepare yourself psychologically. If you have the opportunity, establish a relationship before proceeding.
• Try to identify the needs of the opposing party. What can you bring to the table that would not only lead to better outcomes for yourself but also for them? Make sure the proposal focuses around their needs not what you think their needs should be!
• Ask yourself, “what do I want to get out of this process?”. A winning tip is to create a map of desired outcomes including your desired goal and 2-3 minimum acceptable outcomes. If the negotiating partner does not accept your initial offer, you always have a few other options to fall back on.
• This one is mind numbingly obvious but people take it for granted - be open and sincere! Always! Never sacrifice honesty, integrity and dignity for short-term gains as these values form the foundation upon which constructive negotiations are built. Many of us will understand the power of the quote “Trust is a fragile thing—hard to earn, easy to lose.”
• Each party should open the meeting with their own goals and objectives for the session. This allows both sides to establish common grounds and gain a deeper perspective into where the other stands. At this point, each party can assess how to align the stakeholder’s success with their own.
• Approach all similar situations in life with the abundance mindset! The wise negotiator focuses on firmly maintaining the win-win paradigm yet understands that if the deal is not reached, no deal is sometimes the best deal. How much relief is it to know that gracefully walking away is equally an option? And not just an option but a strength that builds credibility and trust!
• Body language is your best friend so check in with that from time to time. Don’t be surprised that there are life coaches out there in the world making millions with courses just dedicated to this. Study your opponent. Positive signs include nodding of the head and direct eye contact. Negative signs including folding of the arms, aversion of eyes contact.
• Speak slowly and clearly! Talking at people has never been a positive attribute and is commonly associated with a lack of self-confidence. Practice with your nearest and dearest and you will discover just how empowering it can be to take your time between those sentences and how effective a clear concise message truly is.
Truth is, we negotiate everyday not just in our careers. The only mistake most of us make is leading with the ego, seeing these exercises as a win-or-lose battle, showing resistance. Many of us are not even conscious about just how much we set ourselves up for failure with this approach. Life is difficult enough, is it not? Next time you find yourself in this situation you can start by remembering that magic happens when we work together and these instances are not a fight as much as they are a problem-solving opportunity that could lead to great things.