Unless you’ve built yourself to accept uncertainty in good fate, you’ll have a knot in your belly when it becomes clear that you’re going to be negotiating anything with a potentially difficult person. It’s the sort of stuff that keeps some of us awake at night.
But there’s always a way to win, even in the toughest of bargaining processes, if it’s important enough to require your involvement. Success in these situations also depends on the reasonableness of the person (or people) at the other end of the negotiation table; but since there’s only so much you can do to directly influence their responses to your points or offers, the smart thing to do would be to work on your own bargaining skills and strategy.
Negotiations are an important part of business, because business involves much human interaction. Whether it’s working out the modalities of a major partnership or conversations with a service provider about adjusting their prices, the goal is usually to reach a deal that all sides involved agree to. As we’re already aware, these discussions could either end with a win for all parties, a drab stalemate, or acrimony.
Here, we’re presenting eight skills that’ll help you emerge from the negotiating room with a result you can be satisfied with.
Understand the worth of preparation
If it’s something that requires you to get all the facts right beforehand, you should be willing to put in the research work that it demands. Learn about the other negotiating party if you can. This is easier to do if they’re a fairly well known company or one for which there’s easily accessible information.
Make a list of possible talking points and tough spots, and decide how you’ll approach them.
It’s best to spend the first few minutes of a meeting setting a pleasant tone for what might be a long drawn out tug of war. While there’s always a balance to strike between being warm and cordial and being ‘business like’, you should definitely be careful about coming across as being ‘ready for a duel’. Any hint of such a posture, real or imagined, could make the whole process a tough log to saw.
Build a rapport with the other party; then get on to work within that positive atmosphere.
Spot hidden real issues
This comes into play in planning ahead of a negotiation, as well as in the actual process. Being able to spot what the real issues are or could be (beyond what they might appear to be) is an ability all fine negotiators possess.
In certain situations, it might seem that the major talking point is the price of the product or service being offered; but if you have a good enough knowledge about the offering and things related to it, you might find that you should be zeroing in on something else instead, like quality, safety, location, etc.
It’s one thing to hear the words being said and the points being made. It’s quite another to listen patiently, place all that’s being said in their proper momentary context and see their place in the discussion as a whole. Understanding things this way will help both parties cut out unnecessary back-and-forths, and get to a mutually agreed upon deal more quickly.
A good deal of misunderstanding arises from communication flaws. When one participant in a discussion misinterprets a statement made by the other party, the conversation could easily travel down the wrong path and eventually get derailed.
You’d be better off using simple language and avoiding ambiguities. Technical terms could be used in certain situations, but only as long as you’re sure that everyone understands what they mean. And if you’re not sure you’ve properly comprehended something, you should ask for clarification.
Control your emotions
Putting your emotions in check could be the difference between clinching a deal and blowing it up before it happens.
Negotiations are seldom smooth, trouble free rides. Sometimes, tensions may rise, and tempers may boil underneath, waiting for a vent to come open. At such junctures, you need to exercise emotional control and let reason rule instead. Meet combative words with calming empathy, and tactfully steer things back into level headed territory. This is obviously easier said than done; it’s one of the really crucial skills good negotiators posses.
Have a problem-solving mindset
Anticipate problems that may arise in the negotiation process, and think about possible solutions to them. Even if they come in ways you didn’t plan for, always think in terms of finding antedotes to them.
A healthy dose of positivity is needed here. You’ll also have to put your critical analysis skills to work as well. Just never give in under the pressure of a real or imagined threat to your position, without exploring all reasonable options open to you.
Wise negotiators know that a good reputation is a big asset. Sleek talk may work for one or a few instances; but if it’s shown to be a deceptive representation of facts, the sleek talker winds up paying a hefty price for his ways in the long run: he gets a negative reputation. No one wants to go into a negotiation with a negative reputation hanging over them.
Being plain about things doesn’t have to be grim. If you’ve done your homework and your position is solid, you can head into the bargaining process with confidence. In time, you’ll be a trustworthy brand, one that anyone would consider reliable, and thus, a prefered party to strike a deal with.