Before You Negotiate Anything
This year has been about negotiations. We are negotiating contracts, mortgages, rent reductions, haircuts, and even how we dine at restaurants just name a few. We see states negotiating for ventilators, congress negotiating stimulus packages and countries negotiating travel bans. You, likely, have already had to negotiate something this year or are about to. The types of negotiation you are making can have a huge impact on you and your family’s wellbeing. Now is not the time to be off your game.
For the high stakes negotiations, here are my top three “must haves” before sitting at the table.
Research whatever it is you are negotiating and research who you are negotiating with. By looking at who the other person is you can likely gather what they want, both personally and professionally from the conversation. This knowledge will help you prepare your strategy. Do not judge them or make assumptions. This is different from understanding them. The key is to understand what they want and why they want it. In addition to researching you can also ask advice from someone you trust who has negotiated with the adversary before or has made a similar negotiation and won.
Be crystal clear regarding what you want and what you are willing to settle for. This clarity is especially helpful when negotiating a raise or contract. You may want a $20k raise but you could settle for $10k and more vacation time. Whatever your numbers are, do not show you are willing to take less than you are asking until the end of the negotiation. Force them to talk you down even though you know you’ll agree. This strategy is important. Let the other person feel they have done a great job negotiating. Not only will they enjoy the conversation, they will respect you for holding out and likely feel they owe you.
You have nothing to lose. Adopt this attitude. Be willing to walk away. If you are not getting anywhere or the other party thinks they have more negotiating power – walk. Never show any emotional attachment. If you allow the other person see that you are emotionally attached to the outcome, you lose your power. Suddenly they will be in control of the conversation and therefore in control of the outcomes. Show a willingness to walk away and no emotional attachment. A neutral, I-have-nothing-to-lose attitude will surprise and throw off your opponent, thus comfortably handing you control of the conversation.
In the end, remember a negotiation is simply a process aimed at reaching an agreement between two parties. You want to be armed with as much information as possible, be clear on what you do and don’t want, and operate from a place of strength.