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January 30, 2014

Is Your Negotiation Strategy Up to Date?

Negotiations

Jeff Cochran

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For those who succeed in the business world, having a solid negotiation strategy is critical. However, negotiating can be a difficult skill to perfect. There are many common mistakes that are made during the negotiation process, from poor planning to making incorrect assumptions about the other party. With the following five tips, you will be able to hone your negotiation strategyand ensure that you are able to make deals that benefit your business.

1. Don’t Assume It’s a Fixed Pie

One common mistake made during negotiations is assuming that the other party will only be willing to negotiate so much. Also referred to as assuming the pie is fixed, this mistake is frequently made when both parties actually want the same result. By assuming that the other party will only meet you halfway, you could be missing out on getting the whole pie. Margaret Neale, the director of two programs teaching negotiation at Stanford, has found that about 20-25% of the students in her class make this mistake during negotiations.

2. Understand Cultural Differences

Another common mistake that you can make in your negotiation strategy is failing to take cultural differences into account. When entering negotiations with individuals from other countries and other cultures, making a foolish mistake because you do not know the culture can cause you to lose the trust of your adversary. For example, in some cultures, making eye contact is a sign of trust, but in other cultures, it is a sign of aggression.

3. Focus On Cooperation

When it comes to your negotiating strategy, there are two main tactics you can take: zero-sum games vs. cooperation. While zero-sum games are combative and ultimately lead to worse results for both parties, cooperation helps businesses establish a positive relationship that leads to win-win negotiations. By keeping your negotiations positive and maintaining a tone of cooperation, you can ensure better results.

4. Don’t Ask Yes or No Questions

A good strategy to help you succeed when negotiating is to ask open-ended questions rather than yes or no questions. This is because open-ended questions allow the other party to reveal more information about their wants and needs. Understanding what the other party wants out of the negotiation and where they are coming from will put the situation in perspective and help you come to a better solution.

5. Take the Time to Prepare

Last but not least, never underestimate the importance of taking the time to prepare for your negotiations. Good negotiators not only do their homework on the other party, but they also make a detailed plan for how the negotiation will play out. You should always have a good idea of what your priorities are for any negotiation as well as how you can alter those priorities, if necessary, to come to an agreement that works for both parties.

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