Negotiation is everything. If you can empathize with someone to get what you want without compromising on your boundaries, you’ll be positioned to succeed in every field. But not everyone is born a good negotiator, most of us need some help. While your default setting might be, “my way or the highway”, that likely won’t work in every scenario. Whether you’re sealing the deal on a big purchase, securing investment at the right valuation, making a sale with a tough customer or simply negotiating with your team, you must first understand the art of negotiating, in order to get the ideal outcome.
1. Start strong
Your opening line sets the tone for the entire interaction. It asserts your position and puts someone in the state of mind to argue or concede, so it matters a lot. Keep in mind what you want to achieve and craft that opening sentence with the endgame in mind.
2. Ask better questions
You don’t always need to barrel in with your strong opinions and let everyone know where you stand. Sometimes hanging back, keeping your cards close to your chest, and asking great questions can mean the other person shows their hand too soon. They share information you can leverage to bring them around to your way of thinking.
3. Handle objections
If you can predict the other party’s objections in advance, you can plan exactly how you will handle them. You’ll know what to say and nothing will catch you off guard. Even if you pretend your solution is off-the-cuff, the outcome of this exercise is effective. They feel seen and heard and you have the chance to think.
4. Find the win-win
You win, they win. Wins all round. If everyone left the conversation happy with the way forward, that would mark a successful result. No lasting resentment, no feelings of inferiority or axes to grind, just a plausible solution and a plan of action. There is nearly always a win-win to be had, you just might need a little assistance in finding it.
5. Keep your cool
As soon as you get emotional, you lose. Letting anything other than your best self-lead a negotiation will see you make irrational, illogical and temper-driven statements that only serve to harm your case. Don’t let that happen. Take deep breaths and ask for a minute to think so you can get some perspective. Do whatever you can to maintain your pokerface and keep your cool.
We are all negotiators. Whether we’re buying a home or acquiring a company, we all face situations that require working with another party to set terms that we find advantageous. Doing so successfully means understanding our own objectives and anticipating the other party’s, finding solutions that make everyone better off, and analyzing the outcomes to assess whether we’ve actually walked away ahead.