written by Kate Stoneburner – guest blogger for Raleigh Marketing Consultants
Contrary to popular belief, the art of negotiation is a teachable skill, not a mysterious talent gifted to a select few! People who get nervous at the thought of negotiating (whether they’re buying a new car or discussing salary for a new job) may simply need to practice and understand the whys behind the whats.
With the right techniques, you can become a more confident compromiser and hold your own in negotiation scenarios. Here are some best practices for approaching a negotiation:
Successful negotiation should feel like a conversation, not a boxing match. Both parties need to feel as if they have won. By approaching a scenario as if it is a discussion rather than an argument, you will be better at listening, less argumentative, and more constructive with your thoughts and ideas. Patience is crucial to finding a solution instead finding a winner and loser.
Know What You Want.
Imagine that you are negotiating Saturday night plans with your boyfriend/girlfriend. You want to stay home and your partner is adamant that you go out on the town. Those are your respective positions. But what are your actual interests?
The truth is, you only want to stay home because you do not want to spend money on an expensive night out. Your partner wants to go out simply because he/she wants to hang out with friends. Knowing each other’s interests (as opposed to just your positions) is invaluable in coming to a solution– in this case, stay in Saturday night and invite friends over! Compromise is key.
If you can give someone what they truly want, you can typically get anything you want in return.
Talk Less, Listen More.
It’s amazing how much easier it is to talk then to listen. In fact, even when we are “listening,” we are often not even processing what the other person is saying but rather, planning what we will say next.
To be a good negotiator, you need to understand what the other party really wants. You cannot get that information if you don’t take the time to listen and really process his or her view. It is important in a negotiation to ask lots of questions and then listen to the responses. Ask direct questions and allow the other party to tell you what they need. You will have much more success finding a compromise!
Some experts recommend that serious negotiators try to argue like a toddler. Toddlers never take no for an answer—but they always make sure to express exactly what they want in and they rarely ever waver. Being aggressive and being assertive are not the same thing.
You do not need to be rude or disrespectful to ask for what you want and hold your ground. Make sure to always aim high with your initial ask so that you have some room to move. If you ask for exactly what you need at the beginning, you will look completely unwilling to compromise during the negotiation.
Silence Is Golden.
Imagine that you want to ask for an increase in a bonus. You perfectly plan your argument as to why the increase makes sense and you present your position well. Then, there is silence. Your boss doesn’t say anything at all. Do not start offering up a lesser ask because you assume that the answer is a no, that the boss is angry, or that your request was too aggressive. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by speaking up when silence becomes uncomfortable.
Allow people time to think! Once you have set forth a request, wait for a response.
Not everyone loves to negotiate, but understanding how to negotiate and improve your negotiation skills is critical to achieving success in almost any kind of business, and in life. Even those who never work in sales will need to negotiate at some point or another, because resolving almost any disagreement requires compromise. Learning to control and play an active role in resolving conflicts can empower you to feel less anxious when asserting yourself and your wishes, and can help you get the results you’re hoping for more often.
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