How often are you involved in a negotiation?
If you answered, "almost daily," you already realize how much negotiating is involved in our everyday lives. Think about it. We negotiate with our kids over everything from homework to the car keys. We haggle over prices at a yard sale. We go back and forth over whose turn it is to do the dishes.
In business, negotiations are constantly in the picture -- with vendors, colleagues, employees and clients. We even negotiate for clients.
Some people believe negotiations are bound to be contentious. But they needn't be. It's clearly possible to negotiate with a cool head and reach an agreement that pretty much satisfies both parties. Here's how:
1. Start by listening
Don't reveal what you want right away. Let the other side go first, so you know what you're dealing with. If they're hesitant, be firm. Explain that you can't give them what they want without knowing what they need.
2. Stick to the process
Experts tell us there's a 3-step process to successful negotiations:
- Collect the opening positions
- Probe for more information
- Arrive at a compromise
Look for common ground in the step where you're asking for more info. Suppose you're buying a used piano. After the seller and you share opening positions, ask what's included -- the piano bench, a piano light, maybe some sheet music the seller no longer needs. These can be things on which you and the seller can compromise.
If the conversation stalls, but more could be done; talk about what each of you would be willing to give up for you to be able to move ahead. If you're really deadlocked in an important negotiation, you may have to bite the bullet and bring in a professional mediator.
3. Be ready with, "Under what circumstance...?"
This is the magic phrase that reveals what the other side feels they need. "Under what circumstance would you provide this financing for my business?" "Under what circumstance can you deliver this by the end of the month?" Until you know this, you can't reach a compromise.
4. Avoid round numbers
One office cleaning service quotes $40 a week, another says $38. Which one would you negotiate with? Always come to the negotiating table with an exact number, but don't use zeros. Not using a round number makes it look like you've done the math, which can intimidate the opposition. Make concessions the same way. If you have to come down, lead with an odd number amount.
Follow these guidelines and you should come out of every negotiation not necessarily with everything you want, but always with everything you need....