Image courtesy of Very Quiet from Flickr.
If you want some real insight into the art of negotiation, watch the Seinfeld video with Kramer negotiating a deal about beltless tranchcoats with Jerry’s father, Morty. Not only will the video make you laugh, you’ll receive a painless lesson in negotiating tactics. It certainly makes it clear that when communication is poor during negotiations, the results will be less than satisfactory.
Whether it’s about who takes out the garbage or about meeting the boss to ask for a pay increase, we’re all involved in some form of negotiating, almost every day of our lives. And masterful negotiation depends on well-honed communication skills. Ideally, both parties will then come away from the negotiation feeling satisfied– contrary to Kramer’s and Jerry’s father’s predicament in the infamous “25% negotiation.”
But as we all know, negotiating in business isn’t an easy thing to do. It often involves conflict, or possibly asking for something you fear you may not get. And fear can really get in the way of successful negotiation. So, what can you do to improve your negotiating skills? Consider this; the three main stages to any successful negotiation, as you’ll see, below.
The Language Lab’s Top Three Tips to Successful Negotiation
Prepare: You first need to understand exactly what the negotiation is about. What is being asked for? What are the expectations of both parties? What are you looking for and what can you offer? When you can answer these questions without stumbling, your preparation is complete.
Listen: The temptation in a negotiation is to jump in with your arguments, bombarding the other party with your needs. You want to allow the other person(s) time to speak. And you must truly listen. Take your time; be dignified. Think of the negotiation as a conversation, not an argument. If you are a good listener, you’ll find that more questions may arise. Asking those questions of the other party will likely give you a more complete idea of what he or she thinks. Moreover, it can only help improve further negotiations with that person.
Understand: Once a solution has been reached, make sure you understand exactly what that outcome means. Not only do you need to understand, both parties must be clear. Paraphrasing the outcome of the negotiation, i.e. restating your understanding, in your own words, is helpful. Sharing a summary of notes taken during the discussion is also an effective strategy. Of course, you want to be sure you get the final results of the negotiation in writing, particularly if it involves an offer or financial transaction.
Negotiating can be intimidating, but if you approach it with patience, good will and good grace, it needn’t be adversarial. You may not always get what you want. Then again, you may get 25 % of what you want; who knows! However, the more you approach negotiating in a spirit of clear and considered communication, the better you will feel about the process. Not only that, the better you will be at negotiating.
Do you have any tales to share from the negotiating trenches? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the blog.