How ideal would it be if everyone thought how you did and wanted things to be according to your wish? Perfect right, but unfortunately life doesn’t quite work that way and negotiating or compromising is often needed. Since both parties always want to win, what should be done?

Here are 5 tips to help you get skilled at the art of negotiation.

1.Prepare Yourself Before Hand

Negotiation preparation is easy to ignore but yet the most significant stage. Do your homework! Research both sides of the discussion, possible trade-offs that may arise, your preferred outcomes vs less favourables ones. Pivot on what you want the focus of the discussion to be to avoid getting side-tracked by other problems and thus, it’s always best advised to consider yourself in your opponents shoes and think from their perspective and what’s crucial to them.

Like Harvey Robbins once said “Place a higher priority on discovering what a win looks like for the other person.”

Following from that, prepare your and the other side’s BATNA (stands for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) highlighting the lowest value acceptable to you for a negotiated agreement, and remind yourself that your offer has to be more attractive than their BATNA. Ideally this step should be performed at the outset by each party as identifying your goals allows each participant in the negotiation to know where the other stands, this give-and-take leads us to our second step.

2.Establish The Relationship

Like every other relationship, one between negotiators, needs nurturing too and must be done before proceeding further. Ask questions, listen actively and show respect by not interrupting, this will portray you as understanding and professional but also give you a better insight about what’s actually important to them.

Avoid urgency to respond as soon as they finish talking, take a momentary pause as it’ll hint that you’re thinking about what they’ve said and have control over your emotions. Yes you’re trying to get the best deal here out for yourself but not at the cost of being deceiving. Always be open and sincere as they’re perceptible qualities upon which constructive negotiations are built and you’re best positioned when the other party respects and trusts you.

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3.Focus On The Win-Win Situation

Being selfish and approaching a negotiation keeping only yourself in mind, you’d be considered a terrible negotiator. The importance of the first 2 tips correlate and lead up to being understanding of what all parties need and working for all. A win-lose situation would permit you from viewing the bigger picture, reduce creativity and also might impact your relationships with negotiators.

Establishing a strong position is a great starting point. Don’t become too entrenched though or conflict may arise, for which, former Harvard Law School professor Roger Fisher and negotiation expert William Ury developed an approach in their book, “Getting to yes” and identified 5 steps of negotiation tactics to encourage cooperation towards a common goal. These are:

  1. Separate the people from the problem
  2. Focus on interests not positions
  3. Invent options for mutual gain
  4. Use objective criteria
  5. Know your BATNA

4.Look For Implicit Signs

While executing the win-win strategy, it’s essential to keep your emotions in check, use strong verbal communication skills like active listening and composed feedback to avoid misunderstandings. Other ways you can increase your chances of turning the deal into your favor is through interpreting body language communication of the other party to figure out if your proposal was well received.

Look for positive signs like nodding of the head or eye contact and look out for negative signs like folding of arms, lack of eye contact. Keep your eyes open when you ask someone a question, their body language can submit a lot of information about his or her intrinsic feelings.

If the negotiation is over a call, the lack of body language can be a barrier but analysing their voice can hint greatly too. Extended pauses can indicate hesitancy with the offer, but sudden exclamations or a relatively quick reply in a pleasant voice signify they’re ready to seal the deal.

If done over emails or mails, interpreting their views can be slightly tricky but look out for ambiguous words like “can", “possibly”, “maybe", “acceptable” or “anxiously waiting for your reply”, “looking forward to it” signal that the party is open for the proposal and optimistic about the agreement. (Check out 5 tips on building rapport with clients virtually)

5. Leverage An Expert

It’s completely normal to not be satisfied with the proposal and to seek assistance from an expert. They can hear your side and the other party’s and work towards building the best outcome or a “win-win” situation. They can also provide new ideas, better practices, accountability, an objective opinion and support as a third party to both parties during a complex discussion.

Final Note:

By executing these 5 steps you can cultivate and maintain a good rapport with everyone and also leave everyone being happy. It’s alright if an agreement can’t be reached, remember to hub on relationship building, business trust and reputation as you never know when your paths may cross again for even greater opportunities in the future.

“You must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals.” – J. Paul Getty
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