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Negotiation skills for success
Learn how to negotiate with these tactics
Most people never get training in the key concepts of negotiation, despite it being an essential skill in business and in life. Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly putting the keys to negotiating into practice when we leverage assets like confidence, collaboration and the desire for excellence. When you’re able to give negotiation meaning by using it to realize your unique professional dreams, you create a negotiation definition that encapsulates the strengths you’ve worked so hard to develop. You likely already understand that to get bigger, better deals in your favor, you must learn how to negotiate from a position of power.
In How I Do Business, I took my years of studying and direct experience in negotiation and translated it into some base components, breaking down what it takes to become a great negotiator and the pitfalls to avoid. Whether you’re a novice to the art form or an accomplished negotiator looking to augment your skills, you can always learn more negotiation techniques to take your business to the next level.
What is negotiation?
In the broadest sense of the term, a negotiation is a discussion between two or more parties who must cooperate to achieve their respective goals. Negotiations require a give and take by both parties to attain a result that is mutually beneficial. Successful business negotiation tactics often mean maximizing the meeting of your interests. You are striking an agreement with another person, and while you want this agreement to benefit both parties, you also want to get the most out of it.
However, in order to get the most that you can, you must also meet the other person’s interests. Yes, you want to walk away from the negotiation feeling like you’ve “won,” but those you’re negotiating with need to feel that way, too. If one party emerges victorious, then it’s not really a negotiation – it’s a disagreement.
Crafting a negotiation definition with meaning for your business
To bring this negotiation definition to life, you must ask yourself: What is negotiation as it pertains to my business? To give the word “negotiation” meaning, you must craft a negotiation definition that resonates with your brand identity and ultimate business vision. As you learn about the principles and keys to negotiating, brainstorm ways to apply them to your business model. Think about what makes your business stand out from the competition, from your branding to marketing and customer retention strategies. As you create a personalized strategy, you’ll increase your self-confidence along with your skill set.
Components of effective negotiation
There are three critical components to every negotiation:
In any negotiation, each party wants something from the other – it’s their “requirement” for entering into negotiations in the first place. If you are negotiating a new job, then your prospective employer wants you to work for them, and you want a paycheck and benefits in return.
Both parties care about the outcome. There is an inherent desire to win, but that desire does not come at the expense of the other party. Instead of muddling your negotiation definition with an adversarial tinge, look at it as an effort to solve a problem.
3. An eye on the big picture
To give a negotiation meaning, ask yourself: What part of this discussion matters most to me? If you’re negotiating salary and benefits for a job, you may be willing to forego an extra $5,000 a year if you can get 10 days of paid time off.
As you work your way through the potential agreement, understand that negotiating power comes from a point of interest – the dream that drives you, or the goal you desire. Why do you want this outcome, and why do you deserve it? You must approach each negotiation knowing what you’ll achieve by obtaining this agreement.
Remember that negotiation tactics largely revolve around conversation. What is negotiation going to accomplish if it doesn’t allow both parties to express themselves? If we continue using the example of a new job and its salary, then there will likely be numbers tossed around and emails exchanged. But the bulk of your efforts will be centered on talking to the other person or people.
This is not the time to steamroll them with your opinions. You want them to see your point of view, but you also want to listen deeply and learn theirs. Understanding how they are approaching this conversation and why they want what they want will help you build your own case. The ability to empathize is at the heart of a negotiation definition that works in the real world. Empathy gives negotiation meaning, since it smooths the way for a collaborative give and take.
7 keys to negotiating
The following keys to negotiating will put you on point when you’re heading into deliberations.
1. Watch your posture
The concept of state is one of the most pivotal keys to negotiating. When you harmonize your mind, body and emotions, you project an air of confidence. The way you stand or sit conveys a great deal about your present state of mind. Slouching makes you look insecure or like you don’t care; fidgeting signals to the other person that you’re nervous. Sit up straight and keep your body angled toward the individual you’re negotiating with.
2. Present yourself well
Showing up to a negotiation in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts might work for a handful of people, but it likely isn’t a tactic you want to try. Show up to a negotiation the way you would show up to most job interviews, in clean clothes that fit well. Feeling assured about your appearance can go a long way in feeling confident about a situation.
3. Display confidence
You can create confidence even if you don’t feel particularly confident in a given moment. By appearing sure of yourself and what you’re asking for, you convey a sense of certainty to your opposing party. That certainty can persuade them to see the situation from your side, giving you the advantage in the negotiation.
4. Find common ground
Next time you are stuck on how to negotiate, remember that at its heart, negotiation is an effort to solve a problem and reach an agreement. By better understanding your opponent and working with them instead of against them, the chances of everyone getting their interests met go up dramatically, resulting in a successful negotiation.
5. Keep an open mind
Flexibility is critical in negotiation, meaning you must give yourself some wiggle room to accommodate the other party’s objectives. Instead of getting stuck on a single desired outcome, prepare for the negotiation by compiling a list of outcomes you’d be happy with. When you’re clear on what will ultimately propel your business forward, you’re able to see multiple options for getting what you want.
6. Explore instead of offering
The concept of dialogue is so pivotal to a working negotiation definition that it deserves a closer look. As you’re conversing with the other party in negotiations, maintain a mindset of exploring your options. You’re conversing to see what the possibilities are – not to offer a final solution. Exploring opens doors, and offering closes them.
7. Accept silence as golden
Whether you’re new to negotiation or a seasoned pro, there will be moments in your dialogue where you don’t know what to say. This is an opportunity to practice one of the lesser-known communication skills: silence. Instead of backing yourself (or the other party) into a corner with a half-baked response, give yourself time to think. What is negotiation without intentionality? By taking a moment to reflect, the other party may respond with a solution. Or both parties may decide to take the conversation in a different direction. In any case, the collaborative skills you build through deliberations will take you a long way in your professional relationships and overall career trajectory.
Negotiation is a skill built around dialogue. Take your communication skills to the next level with Tony Robbins’ Mastering Influence, your resource for building cohesion in any circumstance.
About the author: American entrepreneur, international speaker and acclaimed author, Keith Cunningham is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on business mastery. With more than 40 years of business and investing experience, Keith has taught critical business skills to thousands of top executives and entrepreneurs around the world.
Keith is the author of Keys to the Vault: Lessons from the Pros on Raising Money and Igniting Your Business. His newest book, The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business, reveals Keith’s core business principles, including why “great operators get tired and how great business owners get rich.