How To Get The Most Out Of A Negotiation


If negotiation is an art, it’s probably the most valuable, considering it gets you what you want, and when you want it, and at the price you want. It doesn’t matter if you’re asking for the price of the last fresh oranges the seller has in the fruit market of Skopje, Macedonia, or if you’re in your boss’ office on the 25th floor of one the tallest skyscrapers in New York asking for a 10% raise in your salary.

Negotiation is part of everyday life and it’s all about communication, but above all it’s a critical skill to have when you’re trying to climb the ladders of the company you work for. So start evaluating yourself. Why aren’t you getting the best possible deals? Why is the company ignoring your thoughtful suggestions day after day? And most important, what does Donald Draper have that you don’t, causing you to struggle at home trying to convince your dog to bring to you your slippers while Don is selling successful adveritising campaigns to international clients?

Well, before you start blaming your damn bad luck or your lack of fortune, have a look at the following killer tips to improve your negotiation skills, and then just start speaking like the leader you always wanted to be.

Plan Ahead

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower–

Does this make any sense? Of course it does. Even though you perfectly know that sometimes the more you plan the worse things happen, do you realize how many times a good plan has saved your day? Just like you don’t travel to the other side of the world without a backpack carrying your most precious belongings, you don’t attend a negotiation meeting without knowing your adversary, right? It’s as simple as that.

So plan and do the essential amount of research before the negotiation takes place. In that case, you’ll control the things you can know, and that’s no joke considering how many things you might not in that crucial meeting. Negotiation is a fluctuating process, and probably across the table from you there could be a fearful communicator as determined and smart and unpredictable as you are (even if you and all of us, in general, tend to think we’re one of the smartest guys alive). There is nothing better than to be ready, and capitalize on your strengths and the weaknesses of the “enemy”.

Make The Complex Simple

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.”

–George Orwell–

Everyone nowadays is bombarded 24/7 by information, and you probably will never win a negotiation getting your audience bored as hell. Simplicity is powerful and necessary, so get to the point and say what you mean in a way as concise as possible.

Sharing Is Caring

Nobody wins unless everybody wins.”

–Bruce Springsteen–

Why should you approach a negotiation defensively, very wary of showing your cards? Don’t take this too seriously though, as it isn’t healthy either if you declare all your tricks. But sometimes sharing some of your information can work out as a smart approach.

People tend to follow the rules of reciprocity, responding in the same way people treat them. So maybe, just maybe, if you want to be trusted, you should first put some of your cards on the table.

Make The First Offer

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

–Winston Churchill–

“Why you should make the first move in a negotiation” is what the Stanford Graduate School of Business states in one of its articles. This piece of advice seems like going against the traditional wisdom of waiting like an old fox for the other to move first, because we’ve gotten used to thinking that the more information we extract from the other negotiator, the more power we have.

It’s too bad that the principle of anchoring is so important in these cases. Many studies are very clear about it: People who make first offers get better terms that are closer to their target price (and here you have the free report titled “Dealmaking: Secrets of Successful Dealmaking in Business Negotiations” made by Harvard Law School, Program on Negotiation, in case you’re still doubting).

Now think about this: you and your neighbor are traveling by car to a faraway village for who knows what reason. The alpine way ahead consists of a very narrow road with extreme turns and no protection on the side of the road, where a deep abyss is the only destination in case you slightly miss one turn. Both of you are good drivers, and there’s no need even to mention it. Anyway, do you wanna drive? Or do you prefer that your beloved neighbour takes control of your precious life?

Of course, you wanna drive! In negotiations it should be pretty much the same. You always wanna set the stage. Make the first offer, and don’t be too shy, but neither too mind-blowing.

Happy Ending

“I don’t need the Prince Charming to have my own happy ending.”

–Katy Perry–

Know how to close the deal. Successful negotiations are like good jazz, they’re all about timing, creativity and the ability to improvise.

It’s important to realize that no perfect happy ending is gonna be plausible for both sides, but still you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Most of the times we all have to concede something, so be smart enough to know when the moment is just right to smile artificially and give the ultimate handshake. Then the job is done. Congratulations.

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