What is negotiation?
Negotiation is the process of trying to reach agreement, either spoken or implied. Negotiations take place when two or more parties have some interest that they want to further by cooperation in order to achieve a beneficial outcome for both or all of them.
There are different approaches on negotiating, some think it’s just about having “the power,” and others think it’s about finding “win-win” solutions.
Some say we shouldn’t negotiate at all, because only the weak do that.
We, as well as most of today trainers in this field, believe that negotiation is a crucial skill for everyone, even for those who consider themselves very powerful and strong. Don’t you think that the more powerful you are (or want to be), the bigger your responsibility is?
Everyone can negotiate. All you need is desire, knowledge and skills. The more of these three do you have, the better negotiation results will get. Let’s look at some useful tips on how to gain them:
You may find lots of tips and tricks on the Internet, personal development books, but rarely do you find such a simple and at the same time rich list of tips which will tell you how to negotiate better.
The following negotiation tips come from [Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence” on the psychology of persuasion, and some other famous negotiation experts.
1. Be informed
To negotiate successfully, you should know what kind of negotiating technique your partner is using, what his/her interests are. Usually it’s already written down in the paper or on the Internet. If it’s not, you need to ask your partner directly. There are some ways you can do it:
– Ask for his/her permission to share her interests with him or just say that you agree with them;
– Say that your goal is to cooperate and find a solution that will be beneficial to both parties, then tell what kind of cooperation you have in mind;
– Ask your partner to tell you what he/she wants, then agree with them and say that this is a common goal.
2. Be prepared
You should know more about the topic of the negotiation than your partner does. Use different sources to research on it:
– People who already negotiated with your partner.
In no case should you ask for help from people who are not directly involved in the negotiation itself, because this may hurt your professional relations.
3. Know when to stop
Don’t increase your demands if they were accepted by the other side at once, without any objections or doubts. Of course it goes without saying that each time you successfully agree with your partner you should at least pretend that those were your demands from the very beginning.
4. Listen carefully to what your partner tells you and try to understand their interests
This will give you a good chance to choose a negotiating technique which is most effective for this particular situation – soft, hard or even avoiding one.
5. Make your requests specific and limited
It’s much easier to agree with something that is limited than with something big and unlimited. You need to clearly understand what exactly you want, how it could be implemented, for whom will this be useful etc. And of course the more senses (at least 3) you can use describing your request, the better it will be.
6. Offer something in return for what you ask your partner to do
This is a good way to avoid being at a dead end so far as your demands are concerned. You can offer anything: information, resources, concession etc. This tactic is used mainly consciously by experienced negotiators.
This is a very effective tactic. You only need to make your partner feel like many other people are already satisfied with this solution. That it became some kind of “trend”.
8. Use reciprocity in negotiations
It’s based on the idea that if you give something (even if it’s not that valuable) to your partner, s/he will feel obliged to return that favor. And then you can use this to get what you need. This tactic is used mainly unconsciously by negotiators.
9. Beware of “satisfaction point”
It’s the level of satisfaction with the agreement below which no one would go back and renegotiate it. This level of satisfaction is different for every person. The best way to find it out is to ask your partner directly: “You would go back and renegotiate this agreement (or demand) if…?”.
10. If you don’t like an offer, pretend that you do like it but try to change some small things in it
It’s a good way to be able to say “yes” without actually doing it. Because the more details you change in an offer, the less chance your partner will realize it’s not exactly what s/he wanted.
11. If negotiation stalls, find ways to break deadlock
For example you can try out one of these tactics:
– Make many small concessions instead of one big one;
– Accept a so-called “partial agreement” – an agreement only on part of the demands. After that it will be much easier to continue negotiations and find a solution for everything else;
– Give your partner a right to make a concession in return for something you do or give to them;
– Agree to a “sequential concession” – it’s when you give your partner half of what they want and ask them for the other half in return. Then repeat this procedure again and again until you reach an agreement where both parties will get something they wanted.
12. Finally, remember that certain things can help you psychologically
For example you can find out your partner’s (or opponents) power tactics and try to use them for your own benefit. Or make sure not to look too happy or upset during negotiations, because this may affect people around you more than it affects your opponents.
The 5 phases of a negotiation: preparation, positioning, negotiation, final agreement and review:
– The first phase is PREPARATION. It’s the most important phase for negotiations to be successful, which means that you need to choose your goals and determine what you want to get from negotiations (usually it’s one main goal). For example if you want someone else to fix something in their house, this could be one of your negotiation goals, but it’s unlikely to be the only one. So if you also need to get them buy a present for someone or at least agree on where to go for dinner with friends, you will probably have more negotiating power.
– The second phase is POSITIONING. It’s when you tell your partner what exactly you want from negotiations and how much it’s really worth to you. For example if you’re asking for someone else to fix something in their house, you can say that this is one of your main goals and that the fact it wasn’t done yet means a lot of trouble for you and your family.
– The third phase (and maybe the most important) is NEGOTIATION. You try to get your goals or priorities across during negotiations, which means you try to convince others that they are important to them too. Your opponents need to understand why it’s in their best interests to agree with you on some things and not just give you what you want because you demand it.
– The next phase is FINAL AGREEMENT. You try to find a solution that will meet your goals and priorities as well as possible, but you also need to remember that the final agreement has to please everyone involved in negotiations – otherwise it won’t last long.
– The last phase is REVIEW. It’s when you take a look at how everything went during negotiations, what worked well and what didn’t, so that you can use this knowledge for the next negotiations.
How to prepare for negotiation in work and business:
– The first step is to make a list of what you want from negotiations. It can be long, but it shouldn’t be too complicated.
– Then think about the possible ways on how you can achieve your goals and on what your opponents will probably react during negotiations. You should also try to find out as much as possible about your opponents if you can, because it may help you during negotiations.
– If possible, talk to someone who has already been involved in similar negotiations so that they can give you tips on what to do and what not to do.
– If needed, try to get more information about the topic of your future negotiations before the actual date (e.g. if you’re negotiating about something that happened in the past, try to find out as much as possible about it before the negotiations).
– Prepare your arguments and facts so that they will be easy to remember during negotiations. You can also practice what you want to say by yourself or with someone who’s willing to help you before negotiations happen.
– Try not to be too nervous before negotiations. You should also try to find out what the atmosphere is like during negotiations, whether food and drinks are served etc.
– If you can, make sure that your physical appearance is good (but don’t overdo it). For example dress nicely or wear some cologne/perfume etc.
– Try to think about how you would react if your opponents do something or say something during negotiations, so that you won’t be surprised and can find a good solution. This way it may help you stay calm during negotiations.
– If needed, try to prepare yourself mentally before negotiations happen by telling yourself that you’ll be fine and will get what you want from them. It can help a lot if you’re nervous or stressed before negotiations happen.
– Try to think about possible obstacles (e.g. that your opponents won’t be willing to negotiate with you at all) and how you’ll/can solve them if they appear during negotiations.
– Try to find out beforehand how long negotiations are expected to take. If you know it, try to prepare yourself accordingly (e.g. finish your work earlier and don’t agree with other people on doing something together after the negotiations happen if they’re supposed to last too long).
– Prepare everything so that you’ll be able to follow what’s going on during negotiations and what your opponents are saying.
– If you’re not the only one negotiating, make sure that everyone’s on the same page when it comes to agreeing on some things or reaching a certain point.
– Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” if you’re asked something you can’t answer during negotiations. It can happen to everyone and admitting it doesn’t make you look bad.
– If negotiations are supposed to end at a certain time but are taking too long, try to say that the discussions are very interesting but you have other things scheduled for that day/time etc. It can help your opponents understand that they should also finish negotiations and not take too much of your time.
– If negotiations are supposed to end at a certain time but you’re willing to continue, try to say that the discussion is very interesting and that you’d like to continue it at another day/time because you have lots of work or simply need some rest from them.
– Try not to make promises during negotiations unless you’re absolutely sure that you can keep them. If you make promises, you have to follow them up.
How to prepare for negotiation in every day life:
– Think about your priorities – it’s crucial not to mix up your goals with each other or try to negotiate too many things at once. For example if you want someone else to fix something in their house, you can also ask them to buy a present for someone. But if this person doesn’t have much money, it might be better to ask for buying the gift first and fixing something later.
– Think about how your partner will negotiate – everyone negotiates differently so try to find out what makes your partner tick. For example if you know that your partner will be stubborn and not even want to negotiate at all because they have a “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude, it would be probably a good idea to first try and convince them otherwise.
– Think about the things you’re willing to give up – if there are some things that you’re not willing to give up, it’s probably a good idea to think of a way how you can still make them a part of negotiations. For example if you don’t want to give your partner the present eventually bought for someone else, you might be able to convince them that they should do it themselves even though you don’t have much money either.
– Think about the possible ways to reach an agreement – try not to think that you can’t agree with someone on anything or that your partner will never give you what you want. This way it will be much easier for you to find a solution acceptable for everyone, even if it’s not 100% perfect. For example if your partner doesn’t have money to buy a gift but they do want to help out, you can probably figure out a solution where they will do something different for the person you’re buying the present for. For example they can take a picture of themself with a gift and send it along with your message.
– Think about realistic goals – if your goal is to always be the one who makes decisions in your house and you have a partner with a completely different point of view, it’s probably a good idea to think about giving up some things so you can still negotiate on other important things. For example when it comes to paying bills, maybe you can allow each other to use their own methods but agree that in case they don’t work for some time, they will try something new.
– Think about what you’re good at when negotiating – everyone has different strengths in negotiations, so it’s important to know yours and use them whenever you can. For example if you are really friendly and have a big talker personality, then your opponents might be more willing to negotiate with you when they don’t feel like it.
– Think about possible obstacles and how to overcome them – sometimes it’s hard to imagine that something can or will go wrong during negotiations, but it definitely helps if you prepare yourself for every possible obstacle beforehand. For example if you know that your partner wants everything to be equal in your relationship, you might want to try giving them something valuable even if it is very important to you.
– Think about how many things you really need – sometimes people try to negotiate at the same time about too many different things and forget that they can do it step by step. If there are some not so important things in your life that keep bothering you, maybe it’s better to negotiate about them later when the more important things are sorted out first.
– Think about how you can ask for help – if there is something that you really want but you don’t know how to ask for it or a side of a deal that you don’t feel comfortable with negotiating, then think about asking someone for help. It can be family, friends or even your partner themselves. For example maybe you want to go on vacation with your partner but don’t know how to persuade them because you feel like they would never agree to it. If this is the case, maybe it’s a good idea for you to talk about the problem with your friend who has a good negotiation skills, or maybe even your partner themselves.
– Think about how you can show that a new deal is a better solution – sometimes people negotiate but they forget why they’re doing it in the first place and try to find ways around some obstacles instead of finding a way to solve them quickly. If you want something badly enough, then show your partner why it’s a good idea to change the current agreement and set a new one. For example if you negotiate with your parents about where you should go for studying, maybe it would help if you show them that moving away from home will let you find better work after graduation or meet people who can become your future business partners.
– Think about what you want to do if your negotiations fail – lots of people are really optimistic when it comes to talking with their partners, but don’t think about what they will do if the negotiation fails. You might be able to get around this problem by preparing yourself for every possible outcome and having a plan B ready in case things go wrong. For example if you negotiate about buying a car for your family and it fails, maybe it would help you to choose between several different models so in the end you can pick one of them even if they don’t want to go with your initial choice.