At any stage of your career—whether you are interviewing for a job or already a leader at your company—strong negotiation skills are a must. They also follow you from the workplace into other aspects of your life. Negotiating with classmates about who will tackle which parts of a group assignment. Negotiating a lower price with a salesperson. The Washington Post says to “consider everything as a negotiation opportunity”. Consider the following skills to help you become a better negotiator:
1.) Be Prepared
Preparation is the first step to negotiating successfully. Understand the situation completely. Have a clear sense of what’s at stake and run through all possible scenarios. Ask yourself:
• What am I hoping to get out of this?
• What am I willing to compromise?
• Do I have a solid argument?
• Are my asks reasonable?
• What are the best and worst case scenarios?
• How is the other party likely to respond?
2.) Set Your Goals
Know exactly what you’re asking for before you enter the negotiation. Build your case and establish why the other party should consider your request. This helps you stick to your guns and lends credibility to your argument.
3.) Consider Alternatives
What’s your back-up plan? If you conduct your negotiation successfully, very rarely should you walk away empty handed—even if you didn’t get what you originally asked for. Ask yourself “what’s the best alternative?” and be willing to offer that as an option. Perhaps you didn’t get the raise you asked for, but are you okay with being given more responsibilities that lead to a promotion and raise in the future?
4.) Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Always set reasonable goals, but don’t be afraid to strive for the best. If you believe you truly deserve something, ask for it. Some say to ask for more than you’re hoping to get, so your goal seems like a compromise. Whatever you ask for, make sure it’s what you deserve.
5.) Take Your Time
Take your time when negotiating to ensure everything goes smoothly.
• Make all your important points
• Hear the other party out
• Consider everything that is discussed
Don’t rush through a negotiation and don’t be afraid to take some time to think things over before finalizing an agreement
6.) Communication is Key
Proper communication lets you express yourself clearly so the other party understands what you’re asking, is willing to hear you out, and can reasonably negotiate with you. You should:
• Establish trust so the other party feels respected and heard.
• Build a rapport so they can connect with you. Find commonalities so they are more open minded to what you have to say.
• Be personable.
• Maintain professional body language.
• Be calm. The last thing you want is to lose your temper if things get heated.
7.) Listen Carefully
You want the other person to feel heard. Their point of view is as valid as yours, so listen to what they have to say. Perhaps they’ve thought of something you haven’t? Maybe, in hearing them out, you’ll rethink your original position and arrive at a better alternative that works for you both.
8.) Explore Other Possibilities
Being flexible is sometimes the only way to walk away with a satisfactory outcome. You must be willing to compromise when necessary. Listen to what the other party is willing to offer, determine if it aligns with your goals, and recognize the success of a well-thought-out compromise. If your original request just isn’t being met, it’s better to walk away with your best alternative, or something you hadn’t even thought of, than nothing at all.
9.) Be Willing to Concede
Not every negotiation will go according to plan. Perhaps your boss doesn’t have it in the budget to give you a raise this year, or perhaps that professor really doesn’t have enough room in their class for another student.
It is the mark of a strong negotiator to absorb these setbacks , concede to the other party, and try a different approach next time.
10.) Seek a Win-Win Solution
Look for the win-win situation. Don’t just think about what the other party can offer you—think about what you can offer the other party. How can you be sure they benefit from your desired outcome as well? What can you do to incentive them?
Negotiating efficiently empowers you to fight for what you want—for what’s fair for you—and even when the negotiation isn’t successful, you’ve still made your voice heard. Knowing what you want, conducting yourself professionally, and maintaining an open mind are key to negotiating your way to success!