Negotiate Like a Pro with These 5 Tips
You may have sworn off negotiating and classified yourself as “just not the haggling type,” but not so fast. Chances are, at some point in your life you’ll find yourself in a situation where you must bargain for a lower price, higher salary, or another form of negotiation. Negotiating is a valuable skill to have, and learning to do so correctly can help get you out of some sticky situations. As with most skills, there is a definite technique, and we’re going to discuss what the experts claim make a great negotiator.
- Great negotiators have superb listening skills. You may have heard the terms “passive listening” and “active listening,” but weren’t sure what the difference was or how they were applicable in real world scenarios. Passive listening is when the listener does not display any emotion or show much interest in what is being said to them; essentially, they are a set of ears waiting for the next cue to speak. Active listening, on the other hand, is a skill you want to use when negotiating, because it ensures you’re paying attention. Active listening requires that you’re more engaged in conversation, which can help you to pick up on things you may have otherwise missed, and even strengthen future communications.
- Set your expectations high. Contrary to what you may have been told, good negotiators always aim high and remain optimistic when bargaining to get what they want. You want to enter the conversation with a clear plan in mind, and outline exactly what you want to say. Come prepared with answers to any foreseeable questions the other party may have, counter arguments, or an alternative plan of attack if you get shot down right away. Having a bottom line number (or relevant units in question) in mind going into the conversation will allow you to hold true to your wants and needs and could prevent you from accepting an offer that’s far too low in the heat of the moment.
- Make it easy for them. Another thing good negotiators do is remain (or appear to be) impartial by putting themselves in the other person’s shoes. Being empathetic towards their needs is just as important than your own. Try to spin the argument in a way that proposes and proves value to the other person. How is what you’re negotiating going to benefit them? Being able to think like your opposition and phrase your request in a sensible way will take away the stress of weighing their options and make it as easy for them to simply agree with you.
- Use emotion. Sometimes it’s a good idea to use emotion to appeal to the party you’re negotiating with. Although it’s important to be factual and quantify the benefits whenever possible, it’s okay to use emotion to get the other party to find themselves agreeing with you, almost as though they are on your side. Emotion and other displays of vulnerability can have a huge impact on the tone of the conversation. It can actually bring people together and help to build trust between parties.
- Don’t underestimate the power of body language. Your body can say a lot about your level of confidence and self-assurance. Assuming a power stance isn’t necessarily a good thing, because it can sometimes feel intimidating or threatening to the other party. Instead, treat them as an equal, and they will be more willing to accommodate your needs and see you as a partner. Effective body language includes a firm, yet friendly handshake, comfortable eye contact, and approachable, yet confident posture.
You might not consider yourself to be in the risky business of bargaining, but you will likely encounter instances where you need to negotiate. Using these tips and practicing with “mock” negotiations can definitely help to give you the practice and confidence you need to become a successful and effective negotiator.