Leadership Skills: Negotiating

Leadership Skills: Negotiating Without The Conflict


At some stage in our lives we all are going to need to know how to negotiate. Yet, so few of us know the basic skills before embarking on life changing purchases or decisions.

This article is written for those who want to feel more confident in the basic skills of negotiating. These are the skills I have learnt that have made all the difference in the world to my approach to asking for what I want. There are plenty of people who would like to know these skills which, believe me, don’t come naturally, yet they can make a significant difference to your sense of confidence when you learn them.

Here are 8 keys to learning how to negotiate well (for people who hate conflict).

1. Know the outcome you want.

Do you want a win-win outcome where both parties benefit? Or a win-lose outcome where someone (presumably the other party) is not happy with the result?

It is important you know what type of outcome you want because that will affect the long term relationship you have with the other party. Win-win outcomes are beneficial where you have an ongoing relationship. For example, when you negotiate a pay rise, you don’t want your boss to feel he/she is the ‘loser’. However, if you are buying a car from a car lot, you may not be so concerned about whether the car salesperson feels as though they ‘won’ in the negotiation.

2. Know your ‘position’.

How important is this deal to you? How much do you need it? Could you walk away from the deal? What alternatives do you have? What is your “bottom line” and what (if anything) are you prepared to concede? You should not start negotiating until you have thought through and considered all of the consequences for all of the different outcomes that may eventuate.

3. Know your counterpart’s ‘position’.

Try to work out what is important to them in the deal. When you know that you have an advantage. Try not to reveal what is important to you! Keep a poker face and play your cards close to your chest.

4. Work out different scenarios ahead of time.

Being caught by surprise will NOT strengthen your position! Think through all the different possibilities which may eventuate and plan for each and every one of them. It is useful to brainstorm and write down on a piece of paper what could possibly happen. For example, if they said, “XYZ” – I would respond with, “ABC”. This way you can be prepared for just about anything that may happen.

5. Know yourself.

Know your own weaknesses. If you are a more gentle personality your natural aversion to conflict may toss you into concessions that aren’t necessary. If this is you, learn about yourself and take counter action. If you are overly stubborn and never give way to minor points, know this about yourself. Your stubbornness, holding out for 100% your own way, may cause you to lose a really great deal.

6. Back up your position with logic.

If you negotiate from a purely emotional position, emotion will sway you from your position. Fear of loss, sense of failure, conflict, pressure, sentiment! All can be applied to sway you from sticking to what you really want. When negotiating for a pay rise know what similar companies are paying for similar work. When placing an offer on a house substantiate your lower offer with the costs of repaving the driveway, renovating the bathroom, renovating the entrance or whatever you see needs doing. This is a much stronger position than plucking a number out of thin air.

7. Work out what you can concede.

Find something in the deal that for you will not be important but for your counterpart may be of significance. This will be like gold to you. A ‘sweetener’ can be what clinches the bargain in your favour. You will need to be poker faced and pretend this is a big deal to concede! Save this item for the final offer you make.

8. Have an exit strategy.

If everything goes against you, you will be saved by your contingency planning. If you don’t feel in control, stop talking immediately. Make sure you are listening to the other person. If you are doing most of the talking the chances are you are doing most of the conceding. Offer to break the meeting and reconvene at another time when you have been able to consider what has already been put forward.

Skillful negotiation takes time and practice. Armed with these basic negotiation skills it doesn’t matter how reticent you may feel towards negotiating an outcome you want. By applying these keys you will be well positioned to improve your negotiation skills and feel more empowered when approaching tricky situations.

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