Keys to Effective Negotiation


Most people hate the idea of negotiating. Typically, people have a negative connotation about negotiation because they feel its manipulative. They see those that are the best negotiators as slimy or underhanded in order to win the game of negotiation. My goal is to change your perception of negotiation and learn how to embrace it.

First, I love the topic of negotiation because it applies to so many area of our lives. Negotiation is important to my women-owned business clients. Negotiation is important to my career transition clients. And negotiation is important in our every-day lives. From the obvious situations like buying a car or a house to the not so obvious like negotiating how many bites your toddler is going to take of vegetables during dinner. Negotiations take place every day, all day long.

Here are some simple keys to employ that will help you learn to love negotiating.

The first key is to understand some basic operating principles of negotiation. Negotiation is not about forcing, tricking, or manipulating to win. Instead, focus on understanding the other party. Start with curiosity about their goals, desires, and how they define best outcomes. 80% of the conversation should focus on learning and understanding.

Once understanding is achieved and you get down to the fundamental building blocks of the negotiation, it is so much easier to structure a deal. It’s easier to come to an agreement because you can see where there is alignment and where you are out of alignment in your goals and desires for your deal. As a matter of fact, if you find that your goals and desires are too far out of alignment, then it’s probably better to move on to a different potential partner/vendor/employee/employer/spouse (you get the drift) then to try to find common ground where it doesn’t exist.

The second key is to be prepared. Preparation is essential when negotiating because the side most prepared is usually the side who gets more of what they want. Preparation can come from multiple sources.

·       Seeking to clearly understand what the other party needs or wants (like we discussed in the first key).

·       Leveraging data and research that you have done ahead of time.

·       Going in with a willingness to walk away if the agreement is just not right and knowing what that trigger is for you and maybe even for them.

·       Having the ability to generate additional options that may end up working better than even the initial plan.

The third key is to approach negotiation with integrity and authenticity instead of manipulation or just a desire to win. I know that “win/win” is over used in our society but good negotiation is just that. It’s the ideal solution that gets both parties as close to their ideal outcome as possible –  not just one party. There is no victory in just screwing over the other guy. Some may see “ruthless negotiator” as a label to wear with pride but really it’s a label that reflects poorly on those who seek to own it.

Here’s a quick tip as I wrap up. If you are nervous going into a negotiation, which is not uncommon, switch your focus from “self” to “them”. This takes the pressure off of you to win in order to focus on really understanding them. This switch of focus will reduce your nerves and increase your success in the negotiation. Another “win/win”!


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