The Art of Negotiating:
In Today’s World, the Skilled Negotiator has the Advantage
by Liz Tahir
When we realize that virtually every aspect of our business and personal
life requires negotiation, the benefit of being a better, more efficient negotiator
Negotiating skills are not usually part of our formal education, though
we use these skills all day, every day. These skills are at the very core
of both our professional and personal lives. It doesn’t matter if we run General
Motors or the corner snowball stand or our households, we all have to communicate
and convince effectively.
What is negotiation, anyway? Negotiating can be explained as simply as “working
side by side with other to achieve some beneficial result.” Luckily, it is
a practical skill that can be learned. It is not a genetic trait we’re born
with, like blue eyes or black hair. So no matter what our age or our position
in life, if we develop a certain attitude about negotiating, pay attention
to honing our skills, then our life will run smoother.
Some things to remember when developing a negotiating strategy:
- Act collaboratively, not competitively. It is not “me against
you.” When we see the other person as a bargaining partner, we are aware
that everyone must come away with a benefit. It is a big mistake to think
someone is going to give you something for nothing. So try to determine
what it is the other person might want, in exchange for what you want. And
then present your case to show them that, if they will help you get what
you need, you will help them get what they need. Make “Mutual Benefit” your
- Personalize the situation; deal as individuals, not as institutions
or corporations. You are not talking to “the Tchula bank” but to Charlie
Smith, the person sitting in front of you, who represents the bank. Flesh
and blood Charlie Smith. Realize that you negotiate on behalf of yourself,
representing the company. When you see the other person in this light, you
are able to look them in the eye.
- Increase your expectations. You usually get what you expect to
get. If you don’t think you will get the promotion, you probably won’t.
If you don’t think you will land the contract, you probably won’t. There
is no way you will put your best effort forward if you think, in the back
of your mind, you won’t succeed anyway. So you might as well act as if you
expect to get whatever it is you want. You will be pleasantly surprised
when you do! You see, when you truly expect to get what it is you are seeking,
others see this in you.
- Know what you want. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But surprisingly,
there are many times when we go in to a negotiating session saying, “Let’s
see what they offer us.” Why let the other person decide what you will get?
Nobody knows your business or your life as you do. Being able to state specific
proposals gives you strength.
- Stay focused on the real issues. Decide what you absolutely want
to come away with; what extra’s it would be nice to come away with; and
what you can do without if you need to give them up to reach an agreement.
Why do you need to determine these things in advance? Because in the “heat
of battle” you won’t be able to focus on these issues so easily, and you
could be very surprised at what you didn’t get or at what you gave away.
- Prepare. Do you homework; thoroughly research the person or company
with which you’ll be dealing. Is the company an innovative one or a staid
one? Is the person with whom you are negotiating known for being creative
or for being more traditional? With all the information available on the
Internet today, there is virtually nothing we can’t find out beforehand.
Whether we are researching a corporation or a person. Just Google-ing someone
is likely to bring up something we didn’t know. And of course, there is
the old-fashioned way: just ask. Ask industry colleagues (non-competing
ones) or acquaintances. It should not surprise you how much people like
to talk about what and who and how much they know!
- Make time your ally. Try to know your counterpart’s deadline
without giving away yours. Why? Because if I know your deadline to solve
a problem or come to an agreement, I can stall any decision up to the point
I know you have to make a decision. Most concessionary behavior and settlement
action occur close to someone’s deadline; don’t let it be yours.
These are just a few of the many points necessary to knowing more about
the negotiating process. Will practicing negotiation skills take time and
effort? Of course. But becoming a more efficient, smarter negotiator will
bring you many rewards in both your professional and personal life.
Liz Tahir is an international marketing consultant, speaker, and seminar
leader, whose mission is to help companies be more effective and profitable.
Based in New Orleans, LA, USA, she can be contacted at (504)-569-1670; firstname.lastname@example.org;
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