Throughout the course of our daily lives we are negotiating with everyone around us. Whether you relish the art of negotiating or dread the thought of it, there are ways to make the process and outcome a positive one in a professional setting.
Here are 10 tips that can help you succeed in your next negotiating session.
This is most important. Negotiation doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game where one side must lose for the other side to win. Too many people go into negotiations selfishly with a sole desire to win. For example, in a salary negotiation, a hiring manager may hope to get a candidate for $5,000 less than the market. This can backfire because other companies may be offering market rate. More importantly, the candidate won’t consider this a win, so they may continue the job search even after taking the job. A good negotiator looks for a win for every party involved.
You may have heard of a long held belief that in a negotiation, the person who speaks first loses. That’s not necessarily the case. Throwing out the first salary number, for example, sets an anchor point. You know you will probably have to come down from that, so you don’t want to aim too low with your first number. This allows you to set a number close to what you reasonably think the number should be rather than the other party setting an anchor number that is significantly lower than what you had in mind. For example, if you think the position is worth $75,000 and you suggest a salary of $82,000, then whomever you’re negotiating with knows not to start at $50,000. Making the first offer gets them closer to your anchor number right from the start.
For Tip #2 to be effective, you must be reasonably sure the anchor number you begin with is accurate. Never go into any negotiation without sufficient information. In the case of a salary negotiation for example, you need to do your research to know what the prevailing wages are in the industry and market. You should also know what someone with your experience and background is worth.
Understand negotiations are about more than just salary compensation. Other things that should be considered in a negotiation include benefits, paid time off, and variable compensation. You can also discuss working remotely, advancement opportunities, and responsibilities. Depending on the organization, equity in the business could also be a topic.
No one ever learned anything while talking. To be an effective negotiator, you must be an exceptional listener. Too many times people go into a negotiation with all the answers, so they don’t spend enough time listening to what the other side is talking about. This can result in negotiating for something the other person doesn’t even want. Listening is a key component.
Once you’ve done a good job of listening, the next step is to clarify the other party’s request. It’s okay to say, “Just to make sure I understand, this is what you’re looking for.”
Work with the other party to find a resolution for any areas of disagreement to allow both of you to walk away feeling like you’ve won something.
Ask for action in clear and simple terms so there are no misunderstandings. For example, “If I agree to your salary request, will you accept the job offer?” If you agree to the other party’s terms, you want to make sure you can get closure immediately.
Never assume you know what the other person wants. Again, listening here is crucial. Go into negotiations with an open mind and be ready to alter your stance if new information (like a counteroffer) becomes available during your discussion. Often, the other person will give you the answer if you just listen.
While negotiating often takes place in a business setting, there are many give-and-take discussions outside of work – like when we are consumers for example. Using the above tips can be beneficial for almost any negotiation.
Negotiating is something we all do on an ongoing basis. Working towards outcomes that result in a win for everyone should always be the ultimate goal.