“Everything is negotiable.” We have all heard this saying many times. People have been writing about negotiating techniques since the beginning of time (from Socrates to Benjamin Franklin to the hundreds of modern business books on the topic). It doesn’t matter whether it is a multimillion-dollar contract, a job offer, a house sale, or getting your children to brush their teeth – the rules of good negotiating are the same. The ability to effectively negotiate can make the difference between success and mediocrity.
Below are ten tips for successful negotiating:
1. Know who is across the table from you – make sure you are negotiating with the decision maker (regardless of his or her title). This avoids the “let me check with my manager” tactic which undermines the negotiation.
2. Know what you want and what your adversary wants – be clear, in your own mind, about exactly what you are after and exactly what they are after (and what you are willing to give up).
3. Do your homework – be fully prepared to discuss every aspect of the negotiation, and respond to every question and comment. Having rebuttals or reasoned responses to their objectives and questions weakens their arguments.
4. Separate the relationship with the people from the substance of the deal – be hard on the deal; soft on the people. Stick to your objective, but remain professional and courteous to the other side.
5. Do not take the issues or the other person’s behavior personally – keep your emotions in check. This can be challenging at times, but you need to stay focused on your objective.
6. Shut-up and listen – negotiators should be like detectives. Ask probing questions; then shut-up and listen. The other side will tell you everything you need to know.
7. Do not give anything away without getting something in return – or it will be seen as a sign of weakness. You do not have to accept being bullied.
8. Focus on the other side’s pressure, not yours – show them how their needs will be met. A successful negotiation should satisfy both sides for a “win-win” outcome.
9. Always be willing to walk away – this is necessary to avoid being backed into a deal you do not want.
10. Keep your sense of humor – this will alleviate your stress and keep the tone of the negotiation on a positive note.