The 7 Principles of Mastering the Art of Negotiation
“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
~John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) American president
Most of us negotiate every day without realizing it. However mention the word “negotiation” and some people get nervous. It frightens them. They imagine themselves at the car dealership and the hassles and pressure associated with making a deal with someone who is an expert negotiator. However, 99.9% of the time negotiation is simply working with someone to find a solution that benefits both parties equally. Whether you’re negotiating with your two year old about bedtime or your biggest customer, the principles are the same.
1. Creating a Win-Win situation. When you approach a negotiation with the right attitude, it takes the pressure off of both parties. What is the right attitude? The desire for both parties to get what they want. To create a win-win situation. If one party is only in the process for themselves, a resolution will be difficult to come by.
2. Listening skills. In order to know what the other party hopes to get from a negotiation, you have to listen. In fact, your ability to ask the right questions, and listen to the answers, is your #1 most important negotiating skill. A skilled negotiator enters a negotiation with a questioning mindset. When you make it your mission to learn more about your customer, you are more likely to learn quality information, information that you can use to build a rapport and establish a collaborative environment. Look to learn what your customer needs, wants, what makes them successful, and how you can sell to them.
3. Creativity. This relates to creative problem solving. When you’re approaching a negotiation as a win-win situation and you’re listening to the needs of the other party, creative problem solving can help design a solution that meets everyone’s needs. Negotiation is about more than winning the highest contract.
4. Patience. Many negotiations take time. This is particularly true when forging new territory with a client or vendor. Creating a solution that works for both businesses can take several drafts, have to be approved by several parties, and quite honestly many businesses aren’t accustomed to win-win negotiations so they may take some time to adjust to the concept. Give them the time they need because when you show you’re willing to be patient and that you’re invested in their interests too, they’ll be willing to work with you today and ten years from now. You’ll form a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.
5. Research. Take the time to learn all you can about the business you’re negotiating with and you’ll be one step ahead to understanding their needs, concerns and how you can work together to come up with a mutually beneficial solution.
6. Confidence is the key to a successful negotiation. If you show fear, the person or company you’re negotiating with can perceive that as power over you or a lack of confidence in your business product or service.
7. Knowing when to Walk Away. All negotiations do not result in a win-win situation. Sometimes it’s better to walk away but more importantly it is better to be prepared to walk away. When a negotiation is a MUST then it gives some of your power away. Go into a negotiation with a positive attitude and a desire to make it work; however keep the awareness that it may not in your back pocket.
Negotiating is an art, there’s no doubt about it, however with the right attitude, planning, and confidence it is an art and a skill that you can master.