We all engage in negotiations. A parent negotiates with a teenage child about an appropriate bedtime. A union negotiates a collective agreement with management. Business owners negotiate with vendors. A person seeking to purchase a house negotiates with the homeowner.
Accordingly, we should all try to learn good negotiation techniques. Such techniques do not ensure complete success in every negotiation, but they help you to get the best result possible. Here are seven tips for negotiating anything successfully.
- Be prepared. The Boy Scout motto rings true for negotiators. Before sitting down to negotiate anything with anybody, you should learn as much about the subject as possible. If the subject is real estate, you should know the prices for similar homes in the same neighborhood. If the subject is teenage bedtimes, you should find out what rules other parents have put in place.
- Know your counterpart. Similarly, it is a good idea – where possible – to find out as much as possible about the person (or persons) you’ll be negotiating with. What is the person’s background? What are their resources and how much do they want/need an agreement? What are their long-term goals? Each bit of knowledge will contribute to your ability to predict how your counterpart will respond during negotiations.
- Always have an exit strategy. You should never enter a negotiation that you can’t afford to walk away from. If you’re desperate to conclude an agreement (any agreement), your counterpart will see that desperation and take advantage of it.
- Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by anything that does not relate directly to the subject of the negotiations. This includes traits that you like or dislike about the other person, different customs or terminology, and random subjects that happen to arise during conversations with your counterpart.
- Practice patience. Within reason, allocate as much time as necessary for the negotiations. If you’re in a hurry, you’re liable to rush the process and agree to something that is less than optimal. If you show the other person that you have all the time in the world, he or she is unlikely to try to win all the advantages.
- Be willing to make concessions. The best negotiators know that you must be willing to give something of value to the other party. Prior to sitting down with your counterpart, you should review your position and decide what concession(s) you are willing to make and what you expect to receive in return.
- Stop while you’re ahead. This tip is difficult to use before you gain experience, because it depends on knowledge about the dynamics of negotiations. You must listen to and watch the other party carefully in order to determine when their negotiating position has been fully laid out. At that point, there is no advantage to prolonging discussions further. Rather, you should either walk away or take the best deal available.
Negotiating is both an art and a science. Accordingly, it requires both careful study and the ability to improvise. These seven tips should help anyone to negotiate successfully