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Negotiating Skills 101 - The Secrets To Successfully Closing Any Deal In Your Favor… Fast!

Author: Dave Kelly

Negotiating Skills 101 - The Secrets To Successfully Closing Any Deal In Your Favor… Fast!

Book Series: Being Successful At Business


While knowing how to negotiate can help you out a great deal in every area of your life, it is especially crucial in business. If you are unable to negotiate successfully and well, it can have a very negative impact on your business.

Fortunately, a great deal of good negotiation is simply common sense. Still, many people get hooked into anger or sidetracked by emotion and make very poor decisions. Although some negotiators approach the process as a game, it is important to remember that successful negotiations are not built on luck or emotion.

Instead, you must have nerves of steel, great instincts, the ability to be prepared, and to act in a disciplined manner. When you enter into negotiation, you must leave your ego behind, have a clear and realistic perception of the situation and focus firmly on your goals.

Having excellent negotiation skills is an important element of the foundation of your success in business. The quality of your negotiation skills is really a strong determinant of your business success or failure. Your skills in negotiating can also help you do well in your personal life. A great negotiator can expect to experience more success in day-to-day life and relationships.

As a business person or entrepreneur, you have many responsibilities. You may feel that learning good negotiation skills is a luxury or too time consuming; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Investing some time, effort and attention in learning how to negotiate well can make a huge difference in your success.

In this eBook, we have gathered a generous and diverse collection of tips, tricks, techniques and strategies to help you master the art of successful negotiation in business and in life. When you have completed our Negotiations 101 collection, you will be ready to wheel and deal seasoned pros and face any conflict with confidence and poise.

1. The Best Negotiators Share Specific Qualities

To be a master negotiator, it is important to understand that you need to have strong communication skills. You must be able to communicate and comprehend both verbally and non-verbally. Here are a few of the basic qualities that make a good negotiator.

* Flexibility

* Creativity

* Self awareness

* Empathy

* The ability to plan

* Honesty

* A win-win mindset

* Great communication skills.

Your Style May Vary From One Situation to Another

When negotiating, you will most often find that an assertive way of communicating works well and brings you most success; however, there are times when a more aggressive or more passive approach will work better. It is important that you develop a good sense for the tone and mood of the meeting. This will guide you in selecting your approach. Be sure to remain open and receptive to the sense of the meeting throughout so that you can adjust your approach if needed.

What’s the Difference Between the Three Styles?

An aggressive approach is a confrontational approach that involves anger. It is seldom helpful and actually tends to put people off and cause rifts between people. More often than not, taking an aggressive, confrontational approach will simply destroy your negotiations.

The exception might be a situation in which you have been negotiating for over an extended period of time, the other person is simply not cooperating, and a decision has to be made one way or the other. An aggressive stance is a risky stance because it forces a win or lose outcome, and that is never desirable.

If you choose to take a passive approach, you will use ambiguous language and take a conciliatory tone. You will speak in the “passive voice” referring to actions “being done” or “steps having been taken”. Your body language will be less expansive, and you will tend to be more pliant and acquiescent. This approach can be useful if you are not fighting for a major cause, and/or if you feel that the person you are dealing with would be resistant to a more assertive approach.

Assertive communication is, overall, the best choice. When you communicate assertively, you are confident, poised, and considerate. You focus on keeping your tone steady and strong while guiding and facilitating the discussion for the benefit of all involved.

You will strive to maintain a calm and rational demeanor throughout negotiations using facts to state your case and owning your case by making “I” statements rather than “you” statements. To do this, you would begin your statements using “I”. For example, you might say “I feel that we haven’t paid close enough attention to market share,” rather than “You didn’t keep track of market share the way you should have!” This approach allows everyone involved to participate in solutions in a positive way without wasting time on self defense.

An Assertive Communication Style Is Usually the Right Choice

Of the three possible approaches to negotiation, clearly the assertive approach is the one to strive for. It is the most flexible, comfortable, and productive, and it allows you to put your best foot forward effortlessly.

Nonetheless, there are times when you need to be able to access your conciliatory self or your confrontational self. Experience will give you a good sense for exactly when it is appropriate to use these styles.

2. Great Negotiators Have a Handy Tool Box

Great communication is spontaneous, but it is not unpracticed. Having a collection of communication tools can help you know just what to say and how to say it in any given situation. The use of “I” messages is one example of this.

When you practice with this tool frequently, you will soon become very adept at framing your message in a way that is clear, effective, and non-threatening. This is important because when people feel threatened, they don’t do their best thinking, and they waste a lot of time defending themselves. You can prevent that from happening with the smart way you phrase your statements.

Here are few more smart tools for you to keep on hand.

Let the Silence Speak

When you are at an impasse, avoid filling the air with words. Take a mini-break right where you are. Take some deep breaths and silently count to ten. Not only will you calm your nerves, you will also throw the other person off a bit. Your silence tacitly indicates your disapproval, and this is sure to make the other person uncomfortable. He or she may start talking just to fill the silence, and that may get you the break you were waiting for.

Don’t Up-Speak!

Up-speaking is lifting your words when you come to the end of a sentence. It is intended to indicate a question, but some people do it habitually even when they make a statement. Up-speaking makes you sound weak and uncertain. Unless you are actually asking a question, don’t up-speak. Instead, stay calm and keep your tone of voice steady. This helps you present a mature, confident, credible image.

Keep Moving Forward

Of course, there are some situations in which you will need to review past events and set a few things to rights in order to take care of current business; however, don’t dwell on this. Place your focus on creating alternatives and finding solutions that will carry you forward. Laying blame simply wastes time and is counterproductive to all negotiations.

3. Enter Negotiations With a Positive Mindset

Always start out expecting the best when you go into negotiations. With an upbeat start, you will be a lot more likely to get the outcome you hope for. Keep in mind that an outcome that benefits all concerned is the best, and mutual agreement is always the goal.

Positive Negotiation Tactics Are Sure Winners

No matter what kind of negotiation you are involved in, a positive outlook will make the process more pleasant and the results more desirable. When you handle your negotiations with a smile and genuine concern for others, you will establish a reputation for yourself as a skilled and competent negotiator. This will help you in all your business pursuits and can result in your becoming the go-to person for conflict resolution. This is a plus in business and personal matters because it really gives you a lot of input into how all manner of issues are managed.

Having a consistently positive mental attitude is a matter of making consistent, mindful, positive choices in the way you think and the way you present yourself. To look on the bright side of every step of negotiations you must learn to select your vocabulary wisely and choose your tone of voice and physical stance with care. The positive image you project should be uniform and consistent.

The attitude you bring to the table will have a big influence on the way negotiations proceed. A consistent, genuine, upbeat attitude will support your words and wishes and help convince others to work in cooperation with you. If your attitude and your words or actions don’t mesh, your image will be dissonant and your results are not likely to be productive.

Cultivate a Genuine Positive Attitude to Carry With You Throughout Your Life

We have all encountered insincere sales people and others who use calculated actions and insincere smiles and compliments to try to make a sale. It’s easy to see through this kind of facade, and this is surely not the image you want to present in negotiations.

It is important to keep your own house in order and take good care of yourself to cultivate an honest and sincere positive attitude. This will give you a firm and genuine foundation from which to work. When the person you are negotiating with looks into your eyes, he or she will be able to see that you are for real and so is your proposal.

Always Be Sure That You Truly Support the Position You Present

Naturally, a part of being positive is to always be truthful. If you have worked to develop a genuine positive outlook, you will probably naturally shun obviously deceitful actions and proposals. It is important that you also go the extra mile and truly understand all the implications of any position you represent.

You must know, understand, and believe in all the background elements of your premise. Don’t take the risk of becoming embarrassed by a skeleton in your proposal’s closet. Research your own position completely before presenting it so that you can truly believe in it.

Build a Positive Attitude on a Genuine Foundation

When you have a firm foundation of truthful and honest information and a realistically positive outlook, you should find it very easy to present your proposal in a manner that sparks cooperation and instills enthusiasm.

Here are some specific steps you should keep in mind to present yourself and your concepts in the most positive and winning way.

* Look positive!

Keep your body language comfortable and casual. Sit or stand in an open manner. Avoid clenching your fists or crossing your legs or arms. These are universal signs that you are hiding something.

Look others in the eye and smile. Maintain good posture and display positive energy and enthusiasm. This will encourage people to get on board with your ideas.

By displaying this open, enthusiastic manner you set a good example. People naturally mirror one another in communication. If you start out open, upbeat and positive, you can set the tone for the entire meeting.

* Be friendly!

If you are unfamiliar with the person or people you are negotiating with, take a little time for introductions and small talk at the outset. Look for areas of commonality such as interest in the same sports team, parenthood, pets, hobbies and other activities and interests. Having something in common will help you all start out on the same page.

If you are familiar with the person or people you are negotiating with, be sure to take time for a few pleasantries at the outset of the meeting. Make an effort to remember interests and details the person has shared with you in the past and inquire about them.

* Expect the best!

Having established an upbeat tone and demonstrated your friendliness and genuine interest, begin negotiations by expressing your belief that everyone involved is surely dedicated to arriving at the best possible end result. When you do this, you are expressing faith in the other person’s honesty and fairness.

When you express positive expectations, you are more likely to get positive results. You are also setting the stage for working together toward a solution rather than working in opposition to “win” the negotiation.

Your Groundwork in Positivity Is Sure to Pay Off!

When you take the time to sincerely cultivate your own genuine positive attitude and bring it to the negotiating table, you start out a big step ahead of the game. By establishing common ground and expressing a trust in the other person’s desire for a positive outcome, you establish rapport.

Remember to listen carefully to the other person throughout negotiations and express empathy and understanding for his or her concerns and needs in the situation. Remain flexible and seek out solutions that will be beneficial to all concerned. This positive approach to negotiations is sure to result in the best possible outcome.

4. Preparation Is the Key to Successful Negotiations

There are times when negotiations are carried out in an off the cuff, impromptu manner. In these cases, formal preparation is not possible; however, it is important that you be as prepared as possible to negotiate in your field of interest at all times.

Being aware of the facts and figures of your industry and staying informed about the latest trends is always advisable. If you are drawn into an unscheduled negotiation and you don’t feel prepared, it is smart to step back, admit you need to do some research, and schedule a formal meeting to pursue the solution.

For small matters about which you feel confident, impromptu negotiation is fine; however, it is important to realize that decisions made based on incomplete information or without sufficient thought are never likely to be good or productive. In the long run, this sort of hasty negotiation can lead to time and resources wasted, so it is usually best to make formal preparations and set some time aside for structured negotiation. In this way, you can be certain of making the wisest decisions possible.

Steps You Can Take to Prepare for Successful Negotiation

* Research the topic thoroughly!

If you are deciding whether or not to make a purchase or an investment, familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of the deal. If you need the assistance of a professional such as a lawyer or specialist in the topic you are negotiating, be sure to take the necessary steps to engage this expert. Do this well in advance of negotiations so that you can be certain of being familiar with all the ins and outs of the topic at hand. Having complete, accurate information will give you an edge at the negotiating table.

Check out market prices for the product, service or investment you are considering. Be sure you have all your ducks in a row before you go into negotiation. If the other person sees that you are not familiar with all the details, it may set you up for a bluff or some other technique that will throw you off your game and cause you uncertainty. When you take the time to gain accurate and complete knowledge, you can negotiate with confidence.

* Get your priorities straight!

List your goals for the negotiation in order of priority. Clearly identify the areas in which you are and are not willing to compromise. This will be a valuable tool during communication; however, remember that the other person may bring some unexpected information to the table that might affect your priorities. Remember to listen carefully and be willing to adjust accordingly during negotiation when this is appropriate.

* Establish a negotiating range.

Have a clear picture in your mind and in your notes regarding your opening position and your final goal. Outline both the least and the most you are willing and able to accept as a successful outcome. When you know your range in advance, it gives you both clarity and flexibility in negotiation. This will help you arrive at a result that is mutually agreeable.

When setting your upper and lower expectations, be sure to be realistic. Consider any problems or constraints such as sales goals, management needs, budget limits and so on that may surface in the course of negotiations. Realize that other information may come to light during the negotiating process that might alter your range of acceptable outcomes. Be ready, willing and able to consider new information realistically and fairly.

* Put yourself in the other person’s shoes!

Always bear in mind that the best result is one that satisfies the needs of all concerned. For this reason, you must always be cognizant of the other person’s point of view. Think about where the person is coming from and what his or her best negotiation outcome might be. Seek out common ground that is acceptable and/or desirable to all concerned.

* Be clear in your expectations.

Before entering negotiations, identify exactly what you hope to achieve and attain with negotiating. Envision the ways in which you are willing to move forward from your opening position. Be clear about what you expect to receive in return for the compromises you are willing to make.

* Be sure you understand and present all possible questions!

Present all of the aspects of the situation that may be open to negotiation so that no stone is left unturned in your discussions. Look for hidden questions and potential conflicts that may cause you problems later. In this way, you can make the most valuable use of the time you have allotted for negotiation and avoid having unforeseen problems arise in the future.

* Prepare your answers to the other person’s questions.

Just as you will have questions for others involved in negotiations, they will have questions for you. Take some time before the meeting to consider what they may want and need to know. Prepare your answers carefully to provide full and truthful information. This will help ensure that negotiations are handled properly to avoid problems stemming from lack of disclosure.

* Identify the questions you need to ask in negotiation.

When you do your research, you will surely notice that there are some areas that only the person with whom you are negotiating can address. Make a list of the questions you have for that person, and be sure to address these questions up front at the outset of the meeting. You may also use this time to clarify what the other person hopes to achieve in negotiation.

All of this new information may alter your course. Remember to remain realistically flexible. You may also want to take a break from negotiation after gathering this information so that you can mull it over and incorporate it into your plan.

* Talk with people who know the other party in the negotiation.

Learn all you can about the background of your fellow negotiator. Understanding where he or she is coming from will help you immensely. Additionally, you should find out what kind of negotiating style this person usually uses.

You should also find out what kind of negotiating style has been successful for others when dealing with this person in the past. All of this information is invaluable to you in preparing the most effective presentation of your proposal.

Make certain the person you plan to negotiate with is actually able to make a binding commitment to the end results of the negotiations. This will save you from wasting valuable time and disclosing valuable information to someone who is really little more than a messenger for an actual decision maker.

* Set a limit!

Just as a gambler or stock trader is wise to set a monetary limit before beginning playing or trading, a negotiator is wise to set a limit before the outset of the meeting. At what point will you stop negotiating and choose to walk away?

Setting this limit will help you avoid wasting time, or worse, becoming exhausted and making rash and unwise decisions. Establish the point at which you will call an end to the meeting and reschedule for a later date. There is no defeat in this tactic. It’s a smart thing to do when you have tried as hard as you can and have arrived at an impasse.

* Remember that each negotiating situation is different!

While the information presented here should help you prepare yourself for almost any type of negotiation, you must be cognizant of any special circumstances that apply to your situation. Take care to thoroughly research every aspect of the topic and decision at hand so that you will not be taken by surprise during the negotiation process. Good preparation saves time and resources and leads to satisfactory negotiations.

5. Lay Out a Clear Strategy for Negotiating Success

Ask for the Moon

In every negotiation, there are a few basic principles you should always apply. Remember that the starting offer is the most important offer. It is the benchmark that all other offers will be compared against. For this reason, you should be prepared to make a bold first offer.

Ask for what you want and a little bit more. If you censor yourself before you begin, you will not have anything to bargain with, and you’ll never get what you want. This applies equally to monetary value and terms of agreements.

Naturally, you don’t want to put forth a ridiculously high asking price or demand outrageous terms of agreement, but you should present your dream price or deal. As long as it’s fairly realistic, the worst that can happen is that the other person will say “No” and negotiations will begin. If it isn’t realistic, the other person may laugh at you, say “No” and then negotiations will begin.

Don’t Bargain Against Yourself!

Once you have made your initial offer, be careful about offering more and better terms unnecessarily. If the person you are negotiating with refuses your first offer and asks you to make a different offer, don’t do it. The ball is in their court.

It is up to the other person to make a counter-offer. Negotiations should go back and forth like this throughout. If you get trapped into offering and then offering again, it puts you in a position of weakness. Aside from that, your second offer may not be as good as their counter-offer would have been. In this case, you will have cheated yourself.

Protect Your Details

If you are buying a product or service, be sure to keep your budget under wraps. You don’t want the other person to know how much money you have to work with. If your budget is out in the open, the person you are negotiating with may jack up the price.

Alternately, if your budget is low, he or she may do a variation of bait and switch by selling you a lower quality version of the product or service you really want. When you are buying, your goal should be to get the best value for your money. You need to determine that value before you disclose the amount of money you have to spend.

Add Incentives

If you are buying a product or negotiating for circumstances that will be very favorable to you, sweeten the pot by having some perks and extras you can throw in that will not compromise your negotiating position or deplete your resources. By adding little luxury items to your proposal, you can make the deal more attractive to the other person.

These little extras can act also as decoys to draw attention away from parts of your proposal that may not be particularly attractive to the person you are dealing with. This can be a very useful strategy in the right circumstances.

Before using this ploy, be sure you know who you are dealing with. Some negotiators are easily won over by this sort of thing or simply enjoy it. Others may be very put off by it, and it could cost you the deal. If the person you are negotiating with has a reputation for being very “bare-bones” and all business, leave this sort of strategy off the bargaining table.

Be Observant

Learn how to read body language, voice tone and expressions. This is as important as knowing how to speak a common language. Watch, listen and learn from the other person’s non-verbal communications.

Trust your instincts. If you get a sense that the deal is going south, you may want to try to change direction by introducing new elements, backpedaling or simply asking open ended questions to clarify the other person’s current position.

You would do this by saying something along the lines of “I’m sensing some hesitancy (questions, confusion, etc.) What am I missing?” This may bring the problem into the open so that you can redirect and start again. If not, you may want to call a break or even reschedule, regroup and come back to negotiations on another day.

Know What You Bring to the Party

When you did your homework on the other negotiator, you learned about that person’s strengths and weaknesses. You found ways of connecting and ways of prevailing. It is also important that you have a clear picture of your own strengths and weaknesses.

What will a negotiator learn when he or she looks up your background and negotiating preferences? When you are clear on your own strengths and weaknesses, you can leverage them effectively throughout the negotiating process.

For example, if you are the sole source of a particular resource or product, this is a bargaining chip that can give you a great deal of leverage. If the current economy causes your product or service to be in high demand, that’s a point in your favor. Be sure to inventory your attributes thoroughly and realistically so that you can make the most of them.

Your Good Preparation Is a Leverage Point

Make it clear early on that you have done your homework and you know a thing or two about the topic at hand. There’s no need to be intimidating about this. You can present this information in a way that conveys your enthusiasm for the product, service or project being negotiated.

Your goal is to communicate your credibility and avoid wasting time. If you don’t make your position, knowledge, skills, and abilities clear right from the get-go, the other person will feel obliged to go fishing to find out.

This doesn’t do anyone any good. Ideally, you will both have done your homework; you will both make your starting positions clear so that you can simply get down to business without a lot of posturing.

Prepare Your Initial Offer Carefully

Remember that, even if you are negotiating the price of a product or service, your offer should not consist entirely of dollars and cents. Be sure you include every aspect and element of the deal.

You must be very clear about everything you are offering and everything that you intend to include in a contractual agreement. It is very important that you are very clear about all specifics of the deal. If not, you may later find that there are a lot of misunderstandings about the peripheral aspects of the arrangement.

Your proposal should consist of the following components:

* Your monetary offer

* A detailed description of the work, product, service, or project

* The precise quantity of services or goods in question.

* Pertinent dates (i.e. delivery dates, dates of service performance)

* Performance incentives

* Terms and Conditions

* Warranties

* Other applicable documents.

These elements should be outlined clearly and fully.

Use the Elements of Your Offer as Bargaining Chips

With these elements clearly laid out, you can easily use them as bargaining chips. For example, the person you are dealing with may be willing to accept a different quantity of goods and services or a more relaxed schedule in exchange for a reduction in cost.

You should begin by presenting your offer as-is with confidence. Don’t begin bargaining unless the other person asks you to. If and when they do, be open to making specific changes and exchanges.

Do not accept major, sweeping changes. For example, if the other negotiator counters your initial offer with a bare-bones, boilerplate contract and tells you it is standard, don’t accept it. Negotiate your contract point by point to get the deal you need.

If the other person is adamant about pressuring you to accept a cookie cutter contract that will not fit your needs, take a copy of the contract, reschedule the meeting and take your time to review the contract in detail and with the help of a lawyer if necessary.

If the contract is not acceptable to you, consider it the other person’s counter-offer. Reschedule negotiations and present your counter-counter offer. Don’t ever rush into signing something on the spot. Always take your time to review, comprehend and counter-propose.

It’s All in the Details

Having an excellent, effective negotiating strategy is based on identifying and comprehending the most minute details of the situation at hand. It is easy to see that taking ample time for preparation is extremely important in developing and implementing a strong negotiating strategy.

6. Setting the Meeting: Should You Meet on Neutral Ground?

Many people believe that for good negotiation to take place, the negotiators must meet in a neutral location. The theory is that when you meet in the home or office of one of the negotiators, it gives that person an unfair advantage. The fact of the matter is, meeting in a friendly, comfortable setting is advantageous for all concerned.

Why Lose an Advantage?

Many erstwhile negotiators have striven for absolute fairness by setting up meetings in drafty conference rooms and noisy restaurants. While these decisions are often made in an effort to level the playing field, the end result may be putting both players on a field that is detrimental to the game.

In the final analysis, it usually ends up being better for both negotiators to simply meet in a comfortable, familiar setting where they can relax, take their time, and focus on the task at hand. The “advantage” enjoyed by the host in such a case is genuine, but there are also many advantages for the guest negotiator in this situation.

You Can Get Off on the Right Foot

If you provide the venue, you can set the tone for the entire meeting. You can make sure all needed accommodations and tools are in place and that the setting is comfortable. You can show your openness to the other person by welcoming him or her into your office or your home.

Your kindness is a feather in your cap that gets negotiations started off in a friendly manner from the very first moment. Not only will your cordiality be helpful to you in this negotiation, it will support all of your future dealings with the other negotiator.

Create a Good Working Relationship by Being a Cordial Host

In many countries of the world, hospitality is considered an extremely important aspect of negotiation. In fact, in many cultures the American tendency of getting right down to business is considered extremely rude. Instead, business dealings and negotiations are conducted over coffee and/or meals.

Participants discuss personal aspects of their lives in advance of business to lay a pleasant groundwork for the rest of their dealings. This is actually a very sound way to do business because it helps all participants feel comfortable and at ease.

It also fosters a desire for cooperation from all concerned. In fact, the more civil and enjoyable a negotiation meeting is, the more likely all aspects of the deal will be thoroughly explored. This can only lead to a more satisfactory end result for all parties.

A Pleasant Ambiance Creates a Pleasant Negotiation

When preparing a venue for negotiation, you should definitely keep the ambiance of the room(s) in mind. Take steps to create an atmosphere that will reduce tension and distractions. Make sure that things your participants will need are close at hand.

For example, you might set up a buffet table with ice water, coffee, tea, and light snacks. Be sure there are plenty of pens and pencils on hand along with blank pads of paper for jotting notes.

In addition to providing these little perks, when you host a meeting, you can be sure of having all the technical support you need. You can make your presentation using your own audio-visual equipment, and you can make these things available to your guests.

All in all, this level of consideration, respect and comfort can help you establish a very pleasant and productive working relationship while reaching an excellent agreement with this particular negotiation.

Save Money

When you extend yourself as a host-negotiator, you can provide a comfortable and conducive atmosphere and save money doing it. Even though you may be footing the entire bill for refreshments, office necessities, Internet access, and so on, it will probably cost you less than if you had to pay for those same services for yourself in a “neutral” meeting place. Your return on this modest investment will greatly outweigh any expense.

The Bottom Line

After all is said and done, when you take the initiative to be a good host for negotiations, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your kindness, generosity, and consideration may, indeed, play in your favor in negotiations, but that’s as it should be. If you are sincere in your hospitality and your goal is to come to a mutually agreeable resolution, your advantage will not be an unfair one.

When you have your negotiations on friendly ground instead of neutral ground, you set a friendly tone.

The idea of picking “neutral” ground, on the other hand, can automatically set up an adversarial tone. When it comes to successful negotiations, civility should be the watchword, and nothing is more civil than welcoming your business associates into your home or office.

7. To Negotiate Well You Must Listen and Understand

When you listen thoroughly and well and ask the right questions to enrich your understanding, you will be far more likely to enjoy successful and pleasant negotiations. The art of successful negotiation is based in the art of successful communication.

The key to good communication lies in realizing that listening and understanding are much more important than speaking. When you can communicate well, you have the ability to influence others.

Good Listeners Are Good Negotiators

Begin by simply listening. Once your initial getting-to-know-you phase is over and you settle into negotiating mode, you may be tempted to speak first and put forth your proposal. This is really not the smartest thing to do, though. Instead, sit back and invite the other person to tell you what he or she wants to achieve with the negotiations.

Listen carefully and exhibit your interest and your understanding with active listening techniques. Maintain eye contact, nod your head as appropriate, and utter sounds such as “Hmmm…” and “Uh-huh…” as needed to indicate you are listening and considering what is being said.

Avoid interrupting and keep your questions to a minimum. At this point, you simply want to hear everything the other person has to say. This will give you the advantage of being fully informed before you ever begin negotiations. Additionally, it will help the other person feel as if he or she has really been heard.

Listen With Your Ears and Your Eyes

While the other person is speaking, pay close attention to nonverbal cues such as tone of voice and body language. This will help you determine whether or not the other person is being honest. It will give you some insight into how the other person is feeling about the negotiations.

When you are able to read a person’s body language, it can save a great deal of time in negotiations. It can also help you know when and how to clarify. For example, if the person’s words and body language don’t seem to match, you can and should diplomatically call them out on it.

Say something like “I can’t help noticing that you seem nervous about this project, yet you say you are very confident. What am I missing?”

Remember Your “I” Messages!

You may have noticed that we suggest the use of the term “What am I missing?” in a variety of instances. This is a good, non-threatening phrase to use when seeking clarification. It is an “I” message that puts all the responsibility for any confusion on you.

While the confusion may or may not be your fault, by owning the responsibility for it, you help the speaker feel he or she is helping you by explaining more fully. In this way, you can avoid having the person feel threatened and defensive, which is just a waste of time.

Clarify With Pertinent Questions

Take very brief notes while the other person is talking if you have questions. After the person has finished, ask your questions for clarification. Be sure you completely understand the other person’s point of view before moving forward.

This is a very respectful and considerate way to begin negotiating. It is also very smart because you now know everything the other person has in mind. Some of the things you were planning to ask for may have been handed to you without your ever lifting a finger. Furthermore, because you have demonstrated respect, concern, and understanding, the other person is more likely to trust you. This will make negotiation much easier and far less anxiety producing.

Speak Your Piece

When you have listened completely and clarified thoroughly and feel you have a complete understanding of the other person’s position and point of view, it’s time for you to speak. In most cases, you will use an assertive approach that conveys your confidence, maturity, and competence.

Keep your emotions within a comfortable range. You don’t want to seem like a monotonous automaton. Be sure to smile as appropriate, have a lilt in your voice, and express your feelings in a measured way if needed.

For example, if you are seeking funding for a homeless shelter, you can certainly express some sadness and concern, but avoid going off on a rant about the evils of government or what have you. Overall, present your case in a positive, optimistic, hopeful manner.

Stay Clear and Focused, and Everybody Wins

Be as clear as possible to avoid having any misunderstandings. This will help others involved to focus on what you are saying. They will feel comfortable listening to you, and when the time comes for them to clarify with you and add their input, they will be far more likely to feel positive.

In the old days negotiating was a win or lose proposition. The modern approach to negotiation is win-win. By taking a little more time to let everyone involved express themselves completely, clarifying confusing points and making an effort to work together, everyone can walk away from the negotiating table a winner.

8. Everybody’s a Winner With Win-Win!

Win-win is an excellent approach to negotiation in business and in everyday life. When you negotiate with the idea of seeking the best possible solution for all concerned, you can eliminate a lot of stress and conflict in all areas of your life. If you feel that you have been taken advantage of or that you must constantly defend your position, you may be able to change that by simply changing your outlook from “win-or-lose” to win-win.

A good negotiator is able to arrive at workable resolutions in situations of conflict and disagreement. A win-or-lose approach pits the needs of one party against the needs of another. This adversarial way of hammering out problems is time consuming, unpleasant and ineffective.

Additionally, the loser always leaves the table with the idea of coming back to win on another day. All in all, the result is lots of hard feelings and wasted time and very little resolution. That’s why win-win is a far superior approach to negotiation.

Do All Three Styles of Negotiating Work With Win-Win?

A very skilled and practiced negotiator can manage to adjust styles and still have a win-win outcome; however, generally speaking, win-win works best with an assertive approach because both are intended to build on the relationship and extend cooperation.

An aggressive or confrontational approach is better suited to a situation in which you have to work out one deal, you must come out on top, and you will never see the other person again. For example, you might take an aggressive approach when purchasing a house. Then again, it might backfire and leave you empty-handed!

The passive approach is workable when you don’t have a lot to lose and you are interested in relationship building with a temperamental client or associate. You might use this approach to work through one simple, initial negotiation (win-win or win-or-lose) easily and set the stage for more complex negotiations in future.

Generally speaking, though, when you are engaged in a negotiation in which you are working on something important, you need to build an ongoing relationship and you want everyone to walk away from the table satisfied, you should combine a confident, assertive style with a win-win approach.

This is a winning combination for working out complex deals and settling disputes among people who have or seek an ongoing business or personal relationship. With an assertive approach, you can be sure of putting your best and most competent foot forward. With win-win, no one is at a disadvantage.

What Does Win-Win Look Like?

Win-win negotiation involves carefully and respectfully exploring the positions and needs of all concerned parties. The goal right from the start should be to find common ground and establish a solution that will provide each party with as much of what they want as is possible.

It is very rare for people to have viewpoints and needs that are really diametrically opposed. Finding an overlap of common ground is usually just a matter of doing good research, practicing good listening and maintaining a friendly and positive outlook throughout the process.

As you negotiate, you should strive to identify and continually consider an acceptable and/or beneficial outcome for the other person. Brainstorm together about various combinations of elements that can be used to create a workable solution for all each interested party.

If you are working on a business or personal partnership, you must consider the other person’s priorities to be as important as your own. Work together to find a way in which as many aspects as possible of both your proposals can be implemented. With this approach, you should both leave negotiations feeling as if you have created an excellent solution and gotten a great deal.

9. What Is Transparency and Why Is it Crucial in Negotiation?

Transparency is extremely important if you want to develop candid, honest, open communication. Information must flow freely to all interested parties in a negotiation so that everyone involved can make fully informed decisions.

Although, there are times in the communication process when you will want to be discreet about your information, there is a big difference between intelligent disclosure and secrecy or withholding information. It is important that all parties involved in a win-win negotiation process disclose pertinent information fully at appropriate times.

Do I Have to Tell All?

Being truly transparent is challenging, and it may take some practice to learn how to share your information fully and effectively. There’s an art to it. While you don’t want to keep the other negotiators in the dark, you also don’t want to walk into the room, blab all your knowledge, and lose all your advantages.

In negotiation transparency, timing is everything. You should have complete information and documentation prepared and available, and you must learn when to introduce each item of information into the mix to produce the best results. It’s a little bit like following a recipe.

What Are the Benefits of Transparency?

To act with transparency in your negotiations is to be candid, honest, ethical, and clear. Transparent communication involves understanding all the rules, regulations and laws that surround your venture and complying with them openly. It also involves fully disclosing every element of your position at appropriate times throughout the communication.

When you act with transparency, you act with integrity. It is a practice that will help you develop a reputation as an honest, fair dealer who can be trusted. This is a quality that gives you a tremendous advantage at the negotiating table and in all aspects of your business and personal life.

In this day and age of electronic devices and robust social media, it is really not possible to keep secrets in business or in your personal life. For this reason, being transparent in all your dealings is an excellent front line of defense.

When you offer full disclosure of information in all your negotiations and dealings, you will never have anything to hide. This will make your life more pleasant, and it will help your business succeed because others will feel secure dealing with you. They won’t have to worry about any deep dark secrets surfacing to damage their reputations by association.

What Does Transparency Look Like?

When you negotiate in a transparent manner, you simply do not engage in manipulation or maneuvering. You communicate with others in an accurate, honest, transparent manner by simply presenting your concerns, aspirations for the outcome of the negotiations, and overall goals.

You carefully and honestly examine the concerns, aspirations and goals of the other person and identify common ground. As you work together, you keep the other person informed of pertinent information that might influence his or her decisions.

Transparent Communication Is Focused and Free of Distraction

When you negotiate with others in a transparent manner, you simply state your case plainly. You don’t tell long-winded stories or go off on tangents because this can be seen as a way of attempting to distract the other negotiator’s attention. As an honest, transparent, ethical negotiator, you want to be sure that everyone is fully present and completely understands the matters at hand. For this reason, you strive to deliver clear, accurate information in a timely manner.

When you describe your own situation and/or that of your business, you don’t gloss over flaws or downplay problems. Instead, you present all information plainly and clearly in an honest and realistic manner.

This method of communicating saves time and establishes you as credible and honest. It builds trust in each given situation and eventually surrounds you with an aura of trustworthiness that will benefit you in all your dealings.

Prepare Carefully in Order to Deliver Accurate and Transparent Information

One very important aspect of transparency is handled during your preparations for negotiation. As you prepare your offer and gather your information, be sure to keep written documentation. Naturally, your offer and your terms should be in writing.

You should also keep notes or have notes taken throughout your negotiations so that you can always refer back to exact quotes whenever there are questions. This will save you a lot of time and arguments, and ensure that a natural, logical genuine progression is followed through the entire negotiation process.

Your notes will also serve as documentation of your dealings after the fact. Good record keeping and the ability to verify your process is a very important aspect of transparent negotiation.

10. Empathy Helps You Fully Understand Your Fellow Negotiator’s Point of View

Empathy is a quality that is useful in all aspects of life. Many people confuse it with sympathy, but it is really quite different. When you sympathize with another, you feel sorry for them. When you empathize, you feel what they are feeling. Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of another. It is the ability to “walk in their shoes”.

When you are truly able to empathize with another person, you can fully comprehend his or her motivations. When you are able to comprehend why the other negotiator considers certain aspects of your proposal unacceptable, for example, you are better equipped to make successful adjustments.

Is Empathy Natural?

It is natural, but it has often been forgotten or ignored. Cultivating the ability to empathize can be a little bit of a challenge. Your efforts at active listening and observing body language will certainly help you; however, it is really essential to practice developing your ability to empathize. It is something of a “sixth-sense” and many of us have buried it in the modern world.

How Can I Develop My Empathy Skills?

People watching is a good way to begin developing your empathy skills. You can take a stroll through a mall or sit quietly on a park bench to unobtrusively observe others. Of course, you will want to be quite casual about this to avoid looking like a voyeur!

Practice honing your empathy skills by using these three simple steps:

1. As you discreetly observe shoppers and park-goers, try to get a sense of people’s emotions. Think about whether an individual looks happy, content, angry, frustrated, and so on. Find that feeling within yourself and experience it as you observe the other person.

2. Imagine what the other person might be thinking. Of course, there is no way to judge whether or not your imagination is accurate; however, your good powers of observation and the fact that you are a human being will probably help you come pretty close. Remember that the point of this exercise is for you to practice experiencing the emotions of another. You are not trying to become a mind reader. You are just working to develop your own sensitivity.

3. Think about what you might say to acknowledge the feeling you are observing. You can even keep a list of appropriate phrases to use to acknowledge a person’s feelings in negotiations. While this may seem unnecessary, the fact is making notes of simple empathetic phrases is just a way of adding to your negotiating tool kit.

If an emotional bump arises during negotiations, you will be surprised by how easily your mind seizes upon an appropriate phrase you have written down during your empathy practice. You won’t have to stumble for words of comfort or affirmation because you will have practiced in your thoughts.

It’s not that these phrases are complex; however, we are often in the habit of glossing over emotions and not acknowledging them. Your practice and making note of phrases to use will help you get in touch with the ability to experience and acknowledge the feelings of others.

How Does Empathy Look in Negotiation?

Good empathy is a part of good listening. As you sit across the table from the other negotiator, you quietly observe. You pay attention to body language and tone, just as we have discussed. You also focus on emotion and locate that same emotion in yourself, just as you did when practicing your empathy skills.

Identify his or her emotion, and try to determine what he or she may be thinking of. Although you won’t want to disrupt the flow of communication, you do want to acknowledge the emotion you are observing. You can do this by mirroring the emotion with your expressions.

At a break in the person’s speech, verbally acknowledge it by simply saying something like “You are happy (sad, puzzled, etc.) about this.” If the person has come upset or angry, you might use a phrase that will help them process the emotion. For example, you might say “I’m sorry that this is upsetting for you,” or “This must be very frustrating (aggravating) for you.”

Leave it open ended. The person may expand on it. The important thing is that you have demonstrated that you are on the same page as the person by empathizing.

How Will This Help Me?

Developing strong empathy helps build trust and rapport. It gets the other person on your side, and this is definitely advantageous in negotiations. It also helps you to really understand the other person’s point of view. This helps you truly deliver effectively in win-win negotiations.

Being able to empathize is the key element for successful relationship-based negotiation, and that is exactly what assertive, win-win negotiation is. Remember that you are trying to build a relationship for ongoing, successful negotiation. Being able to accurately recognize the feelings of the person with whom you are dealing will ensure your success.

Being Able to Empathize Is Helpful in All Relationships

It is easy to see that, in addition to being an excellent business negotiation skill, the ability to empathize well is extremely valuable in everyday life. When you are able to empathize with other people and even with other beings, such as your pets, you will experience cooperation on a whole new level. Others will want to join up with you because you “get” them. They will feel that they can trust you, because you can see who they really are.

Empathy Is a Powerful and Rewarding Communication and Negotiation Tool

By being able to see others on a very essential level, you can comprehend their motivations and foresee what will help them be satisfied. The more you empathize with others, the more successful your negotiations and all of your relationships will be. The ability to empathize is a skill that can transform your business and transform your life.

11. Brass Tacks About Closing the Deal

Closing a Successful Negotiation

As we have seen, successful negotiation can be a very delicate matter. To be a great negotiator, you must possess an impressive array of qualities including honesty, integrity, an excellent sense of timing, creativity, keen observation and listening skills, and a generous dose of psychological know-how. You also have to be an expert researcher and planner if you want to be well prepared, and as we have seen, impeccable preparation is the foundation of all good negotiation.

Don’t Be Distracted by the Many Components of Good Negotiation

With all of the work that goes into developing the qualities necessary for truly skilled negotiation, it is important that you keep your eyes on the prize. After all is said and done, the main point is that you want to close the deal successfully.

This is a matter of starting big and gradually working through all your options until you have distilled the essence of possibility into one, finely-honed satisfactory end result. The negotiating tools you have worked so hard to develop will help you conduct this process efficiently and effectively.

At all points in your planning, research, strategizing, and throughout the actual negotiation, you must always have the ultimate goal of successful resolution in mind. This is not to say that it should prevent you from fully engaging in the process. Instead, throughout the process, you’ll need to use it as a guiding beacon. If you see your process taking you off track, it is important to be able to redirect and get back on course.

Every step of process of negotiation is important; however, all of these steps need to ultimately lead to the final goal. Side trips and wild goose chases waste time and money and end up frustrating all concerned. Focus your efforts so that you progressively spiral down from examining all the possibilities generously to crafting a direct, robust solution using the very best of all options.

Celebrate Your Success!

Once you and your fellow negotiator have arrived at your excellent solution, be sure to celebrate it. You have worked hard. You deserve to congratulate yourselves and each other. Be sure to draw up all the paperwork properly and close the deal with a friendly handshake secure in the knowledge that you have laid the groundwork for a long and happy association.

What if We Can’t Come to an Agreement?

As mentioned earlier, sometimes you will come to an impasse and you simply need to walk away for awhile, examine new information, regroup and reschedule. On the other hand, if you have done all of this and you simply cannot arrive at a solution; you may simply have to give up.

When you have given your negotiations all you’ve got and you just cannot get anywhere, it is an indication that whatever alliance or partnership you were trying to form simply was not meant to be. It may be time for other negotiators to work on the problem, or in the case of negotiations on a personal matter, it may be time for you and the other person to go your separate ways.

Always Keep it Positive!

As long as you have followed all the smart steps for transparent, ethical, honest negotiation, communicated clearly, and kept emotions and ego under control, there shouldn’t be any hard feelings. Whatever you do, strive to end an unsuccessful negotiation on a positive note.

Don’t burn any bridges. Even when all the evidence points to failure, you never know what a new day may bring. A new situation, new information, a different negotiating technique, or even a different venue may make all the difference in the world. If you have exhausted all your current options, chalk it up to experience for today and move on. You can’t win them all, but you never know, another opportunity may arise to work this situation out.

12. Negotiation Cheat Sheet Do’s and Don’ts

One thing has become abundantly clear as we’ve worked our way through the art, craft, and psychology of negotiation skills. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to remember. That’s why we’ve created this handy list of negotiation do’s and don’ts to help you stay on track as you embark on a lifetime of positive and successful negotiations. We are confident you will find it very helpful.

DON’T! Things You Definitely Should Not Do When Negotiating

* Even though aggressive negotiation is a valid negotiation style, don’t use it as a fall-back position. Remember that it is to be used sparingly, if at all. In most instances, aggressive, confrontational “negotiation” will fail and ruin your chances at successful negotiation. While this may be fine for a one-off negotiation in which you just want to win, it is no way to run a business or a marriage or to work things out with your kids.

* Don’t lose your temper. Anger or self-pity or any other negative emotion will damage your credibility, distract from negotiations, and waste time. The bottom line is, you want to work cooperatively with others involved in the negotiation and arrive at a happy solution, so keep your emotions under control and don’t take anything personally.

* Don’t cast blame. Even if you or the other party have done really stupid things and made terrible mistakes in the past, get over it. You may need to address these issues briefly, but only to correct them. Once you’ve done that, move on and keep it positive.

* Don’t begin your statements with “you”. Whether or not you mean it as blame, starting your statements with “you” sounds like blame. It can put the other person on the defensive and make it very difficult to make any progress. Own your statements by beginning with “I”.

* Don’t be shy. Remember to listen carefully and ask lots of questions for absolute clarity.

DO! Things You Definitely Should Do When Negotiating

* Keep your communication simple, honest and clear. Let the other person know what you are bringing to the table and make your expectations clear and consistent. Having this laid out clearly and simply right from the start will save a lot of confusion and trouble.

* Take care of details. Plan impeccably and be prepared for any problem, question, or contingency that may arise. If you do find you have neglected something, own up to it and take some time to do further research or take other steps necessary to answer questions and/or fulfill needs.

* Practice consistency. Throughout all offers and counter-offers, present your expectations, objectives and goals clearly and consistently. This will help everyone concerned coordinate efforts to arrive at a truly workable and satisfactory conclusion.

* Establish discussion guidelines. Make sure it is understood up front that the discussion and negotiation process will remain cordial and polite. You may introduce this concept in materials you send out prior to the meeting and/or you may wish to hire a facilitator to make sure your communications stay on course. This is a bit of an investment, but it can help ensure that things go pleasantly and that you get the most value from your time.

* Consciously use the communication skills you have practiced. Your tool box of communication skills is a valuable thing. If you refer to the skills you have practiced, you will be amazed at how effectively and easily you can resolve problems and move your negotiations along.

* Always be ready to compromise. Remember that negotiation and compromise are intricately linked. Maintain flexibility and be prepared to adjust as needed throughout the process.

* Keep win-win at the forefront of your mind. In standard, assertive, win-win negotiation, a mutually beneficial solution is always the end goal. It can be hard to think in a win-win manner in today’s world, but continue to practice this way of thinking and soon it will become natural.

* Consult any necessary professionals. Before you begin negotiations, if you need to seek the advice of a lawyer or other professional, do so. If you need a consultant of any type present during negotiations, make those arrangements well in advance. Be sure that anyone who will be assisting during negotiations is up to speed and fully informed on all aspects of the situation.

* Empathize. Put yourself in your fellow negotiator’s shoes so that you can really understand his or her motivations. This will help you focus on a truly effective and workable resolution.

* Keep impeccable records. Put all of your preparation in writing, take good notes, and write out your final agreement. Good records save time and prevent hassles and misunderstandings.

* Ask open ended questions to gain information. Instead, ask questions that will encourage the other person to volunteer more information. These usually begin with one of the “5 Ws”: Who, What, Where, When and Why (and sometimes How).

* Ask closed-ended questions to gain agreement or confirmation. If you just need a quick “yes or no”, ask questions that begin with “Is it…”, “Do you…” “Will you…” and the like.

* Listen! Always remember that listening is at the heart of great communication, and successful negotiation relies on great communication.

* Remember to add some perks to your offer. Begin with some extras that will sweeten your deal but that don’t really matter to your overall goals. These will give you bargaining power and add value to what you can bring to the table.

* Make good use of silence. Remember that silence can be your friend. If the other negotiator is being intransigent, a few moments of silence may help redirect him or her and help you get back on track.

* Celebrate your success and be grateful for your agreement. After long and difficult negotiations, it can be easy to simply walk away from the table in relief. Remember to take credit for your accomplishment and give credit where it is due.

* Build relationships. Good negotiating skills are also good relationship skills. Be sure to make good use of your ability to negotiate in both your business and personal life. Building great relationships improves your business and your enjoyment of each and every day.

In Conclusion

Modern negotiation is quite different from negotiations in the days of yesteryear when businessmen rolled up their sleeves and hammered out solutions in smoke-filled rooms after indulging in five-martini lunches. Today, negotiating is a delicate process that requires a sharp mind, excellent finesse, and great communication skills.

It is important to understand that no single source can provide you with everything you need to become a master negotiator. A great deal of negotiation skill is learned through experience and gained through maturity. Additionally, in today’s world, the topic of communication is one that is always in a state of flux and growth.

Negotiation and communication go hand in hand, and there is always something new to learn. We hope that this eBook has provided you with a solid foundation to go forth and negotiate successfully as you continue to learn and grow in your skills and abilities.