Talking about negotiation tips and tricks is not easy; You’ve seen the scene before. A person walks into a room. Looking sleek, like they just stepped out of Saks Fifth Avenue. They put their briefcase on the table, pull out a folder, and calmly pass it to their counterpart on the other side. The tension in that room is palpable. Only then does someone speak, cutting the silence in the room with the sharp edge of their words. Then, a hot-blooded discussion ensues where both sides make impassioned arguments in favor of their cause.
Negotiations are tense. That’s just their nature. Sometimes, when people have to negotiate for something, at work or in a high-pressure situation, they’re uncomfortable doing it. Not everyone was destined to be a trial lawyer or dominate boardroom negotiations.
However, having a few solid tips and strategies in your back pocket before going into any negotiation can have you coming out on the other side feeling like a winner. Also, it can help calm any nerves or anxiety you may have before things kick off. So with that in mind, here are some negotiation tips and tricks to help you be a better negotiator.
Come prepared: An important negotiation tip
This is kind of self-explanatory, but when you’re going into a negotiation, you should come prepared. That means having notes. That means knowing what you’re going to say and having sufficient data to back up your points. It’s also a great idea to practice before as well. Either with a friend, a colleague, or even by yourself in the mirror. Theorize what your counterparty’s arguments will be to yours, and rehearse your rebuttals. Go down your list, point by point, until you know your info like the back of your hand.
Then when the time comes for the real negotiation, you’re ready to handle almost any objection that comes your way. You’ll be more confident in what you’re saying, and that confidence will be clearly noticed by your counterparty. Being prepared for anything is always a great idea, but it is especially important when going into a negotiation.
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Communication is always key. When you’re entering into a negotiation phase, it brings an elevated importance. For a good reason, because many times miscommunication can lead to negative outcomes during discussions. Deals can break down, or negotiations can go sour because something was taken the wrong way or poorly explained. So, in order to solve that, it’s wise to be upfront and clear about everything from the get-go.
Before even starting, manage your own and your counterparty’s expectations. Both parties should be aware of what the goals and expected outcomes are. Then, finding common ground to agree on will be a lot easier.
As an example, Company A goes into negotiations expecting to acquire Company B, but Company B is expecting to enter into a strategic partnership with Company A. Since both parties have different expected outcomes and have prepared for such, negotiations may be a bit more prickly than anticipated. This is why having clear communication before even starting is paramount in order to have a successful negotiation.
Negotiation tips and tricks: Read the room
Situational awareness is another important skill to have when negotiating. As an example, don’t put all your cards on the table at once. Read the room and take the temperature of discussions before escalating or revealing your whole hand. Remain calm and composed throughout discussions, even if things aren’t going your way. If you have to go nuclear as a last resort, then so be it. But most of the time successful negotiations can be achieved just by remaining the cooler of the two parties.
So, as a tip, work on that poker face of yours. People will always try to read your emotions by evaluating your facial expressions and body language. If you’re able to keep that under wraps, especially when or if things get heated, then you’re a step ahead of your counterparty. And any edge they could get from reading your emotions is out the window.
Be firm but polite
Negotiation 101. Don’t be a pushover. Otherwise, you’ll never get what you want, or you won’t be happy with how the negotiations end up. Again, this doesn’t mean going in guns blazing or arguing just because you want to get into an argument.
You have to be resolute but kind. Firm but gentle. Don’t be disrespectful or rude. The negotiation process is supposed to lead to a beneficial outcome for everyone. And if one party feels slighted, then the outcome takes a nosedive at its chance of being positive. So that’s why being polite is critical.
Your counterparty has to know that you mean business and you won’t easily waver from the position that you’ve entrenched yourself in. So finding that balance between unyielding and amicable is vital.
Be willing to walk away
This is a tough one to swallow sometimes. Especially if you really want the sale, the job, or to buy that car. But truth be told, you have to be willing to walk away after a certain point. Otherwise, you’ll leave feeling like a chump or will have gotten a very raw deal.
If your expectations and demands aren’t being met, then it can be better just to leave that deal on the table rather than sign it. Because truth be told, if you enter into a deal that you aren’t happy with, it’s not going to be good in the long term. You’ll be unhappy, and if it doesn’t make sense to you, it can leave you in a worse position than before you agreed to anything.
Sometimes you may have just to stick to your guns and walk away. Of course, it should be done with professionalism and courtesy so as not to burn any bridges.
Negotiations are a discussion and a two-way street. If you’re gonna take, you’ve gotta be willing to give. When preparing for the negotiation, come up with a few items or points that you are willing to give away to your counterparty. Studies show that when a person feels they contributed to the outcome of a discussion or a negotiation, they are much happier with the result.
So please, work with your counterparty to find something they want that you don’t. This can involve conceding something that you aren’t necessarily super attached to. That way, they feel like they’re getting something of value, but on the inside, you know you were willing to give that away anyways. For you, it’s a win, and for them, it’s a win as well. It keeps them feeling involved and gives them a moral victory in the negotiation process as they were able to win a concession from you.
Negotiation tips and tricks: Aim high
Last but certainly not least is to aim high before negotiations even begin. When you start off, think of a number that’s higher than what you’re willing to comprise.
For example, say you’re willing to sell your product for $100, but your initial selling price is $130. That means that anything above that base price of $100, you’ll count as a win in your book. But anything below it, you won’t sell your product.
When you start off by aiming high, it gives you some wiggle room to work with. Then if you land on a price that’s above your threshold, then you walk away from the negotiation a happier person. It’s managing your own expectations and determining what counts as a win for you.
One thing to keep in mind while employing this tactic is to avoid getting carried away with your initial ask. You don’t want to torpedo talks before they even begin because the number you threw out was unrealistic. Your number or the things you ask for should be grounded in reality.
Negotiations are tricky. They’re tough and make us uncomfortable. That comes with the territory. Following these negotiation tips and tricks will help you get the best deal possible. It’s not a guarantee, but it certainly can help. It’s never a bad idea to go into a negotiation with some tips and tricks at your disposal. That way, you can walk out a winner, just like your counterparty. And in time, who knows, you may even be a pro at them!