You negotiate every day. You may not realize it, but we make small negotiations throughout our day in a variety of ways. But, there comes a certain assumption when you hear the word negotiation. It may make you think of a TV crime drama, a deal made between two people, or even a heated debate. When thinking about what defines negotiation, it boils down to an exchange of offers and counteroffers with an intent to eventually make a mutual agreement that works for all parties. You may negotiate with your significant other over whose cooking dinner that evening or negotiate with your kids at bedtime. At work, you may negotiate with your boss over your work hours or desired vacation time. The list goes on and on.
It might be surprising, but negotiating in a way that makes one party feel unequal can be damaging. Dr. Bernard Goldman explains, “cooperation that supports compromise is […] essential if we are to thrive individually and as a society.” From business to marriages, it’s crucial to make sure each person feels like they came away with something.
Principles of Negotiation
When it comes to negotiating, understanding the best way to navigate your points can help you approach the issue smoothly and come out successfully. In a successful negotiation, both parties should come out satisfied on some level. There are many different rules of negotiation. When it comes to effective principles of negotiation, you should consider the following:
- Know what you’re willing to accept in advance. In a negotiation, it can be easy to fall into decisions made in the heat of the moment. What sounded good while talking with the person suddenly doesn’t seem so promising now that you’ve had time to focus and remove yourself from the situation. If you know what your limits are before you meet with your prospect, you’re less likely to be put in that situation. This will help to ensure that you will come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
- Study and understand your counterpart. Take the time to learn. The more you know about people, the easier it can become to establish a connection. Learning about your counterpart will also help you to understand their negotiation style. When possible, listen and ask questions to understand fully what they are looking to accomplish. Try to discover where your goals overlap and where they don’t. This will also allow you to focus on areas of true importance while gliding over topics that will easily be resolved.
- Let them go first. If you’ve presented your terms, and they want to negotiate, allow them to begin the conversation. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to assume what they need or want and offer too much. Allowing them to speak first sets the stage for what they are looking to get out of the negotiation. It is important to listen first, speak after.
- It may seem obvious, but some of the best negotiators are quiet listeners who allow others to have the floor. It is important not to interrupt; you want the person you’re negotiating with to feel that you are truly invested in what they have to say.
- Understand timing. Knowing when to negotiate is just as important as knowing how to negotiate. You need to be able to read the room. Be sensitive to when you ask for things. Be aware of pushing too hard since this could cause damage to the developing relationship.
- Get something in return. In general, healthy relationships are developed out of mutual respect and trust. When negotiating, the ideal outcome is a win-win for both sides. This keeps you on equal footing as well as sets the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship.
- The win-win. This is exceptionally important if you have an ongoing relationship with a person or party. It tends to allow room for later relationships. If one party feels that they were unfairly treated, this could damage the relationship and impact any future negotiations.
- Understand when you have to walk away. Your goal should always be to try to find common ground where you can both be happy. This is not often the case. If you start to feel that there is no agreement to be had, it is often better to walk away from the situation.
- Goals of accomplishment. It is beneficial to visualize the end result. You have to have a solid notion of what you want out of the negotiation. Know what you will settle for, what you won’t, and when you need to walk away
- Game Plan. The more prepared you can be, the better your negotiations will turn out. You should consider who really needs this deal more. Is this negotiation beneficial to both my short- and long-term interests? Every negotiation requires some level of compromise; just know what your dealbreakers are.
- Close with confirmation. Even if there is no deal, it is important to end each meeting with a recap of points and any areas of agreement that were met. Be sure that everyone acknowledges what was accomplished that day. Don’t forget to follow up appropriately.
10 Practices in Successful Negotiation
Negotiation involves every aspect of a person. It isn’t just the words coming out of your mouth. It is the way you express yourself, the way you look, carry yourself, and more. When negotiating, you want to become a person that they feel they can trust. If they don’t believe you truly have their best intentions in mind, there is only a small chance your negotiations will be successful. When it comes to successful negotiations, some best practices to consider include:
- Be aware of your body language. Your body language often communicates more than your actual mouth does. Be aware of how you carry yourself. Fidgeting can lead to an impression of impatience or frustration. Your arms should be relaxed at your side and not crossed over your chest. When you cross your arms, you are essentially closing yourself physically from others. A tall posture can impose a sense of confidence that slouching could diminish. You want your body to also communicate your openness for negotiations.
- Smile more. There is nothing more reassuring than a smile. A smile communicates that I hear you and that I understand what you are saying. Remembering to smile also brightens your face, showing that you are indeed approachable.
- Listen to the other person. This truly can’t be stressed enough. A great negotiator can hear out the other party, even if they might not agree with what is being said. You can learn valuable information about what a person truly wants simply by listening. Showing that you are committed to hearing the other side fully can only help to continue to build the relationship.
- Avoid arguing in turn. It is important to keep your emotions in check. You want to appear level-headed and willing to hear and process whatever case the other side is building for their end of the negotiation.
- Pay attention to timing. If you come on too strong, they may feel pushed or rushed, leading them to pump the brakes. In this situation, negotiation runs the risk of fizzling out or completely stopping. You also want to make sure that you aren’t taking on too much of the passive role. You want to balance your interest, your ability to listen, and your ability to make your own case.
- Read facial expressions carefully. Facial expressions can often answer a question for you long before you get a response verbally. Understanding what different facial expressions mean can help you determine whether to stay on your current path of negotiating or try to switch gears.
- Give them a sense of security. Whoever you’re negotiating with should ultimately be able to trust you. They should be confident that you do have the best interest of both sides in mind. If they don’t trust you, the negotiation won’t work.
- Get the person on your side. The closer of a relationship you can build, the better. As much as you want to try to get to know their side and desires, it is important that yours come across as well. By showing that your ultimate goal is to benefit both sides, you open the door for them to see your side.
- Show that you are trustworthy, honest, and fair-minded. Choose your words carefully. Be sure to listen and to respond after taking a moment to think. If you show no signs of accepting or trying to understand the other side, odds are they will close the door to negotiation. Whatever terms you suggest, stick to them. It is important to stick to your principles. If you show yourself as an honest, fair-minded person, that person will want to reflect that for you as well.
- Remember that this is about finding a solution. Good negotiation isn’t about winning. It is about coming to an agreement that leaves both parties happy. By finding a solution, you allow for the possibility to negotiate again in the future. Finding a solution leads to better relationships.
Negotiate With Confidence
You negotiate every day on some level. When it comes to taking your day-to-day negotiations to the next level, it’s important to remember to incorporate these practices. By being prepared and understanding your desired outcome, you can solidify what your goals are and what you will and will not settle for. By learning about the other party, listening to their needs, and demonstrating that you do want to come to a mutual solution, you are building a lasting relationship that could continue to benefit you in the future.
When at the table, be aware of your physical self. Pay attention to how you both speak and listen. Become a negotiator that the other person can trust. If you are looking to further your negotiation skills, the experienced team at Shapiro Negotiations can offer you a spot in their Negotiation Training Program. Knowing the tools and tricks of successful negotiations can make a huge impact for you or your business.