Do You Negotiate Like a Pro?

Several clients told me this week that they are not good at negotiating. Mostly, they’re concerned about standing their ground when a job offer is presented, or when they want to ask for a raise.

And, when I ask them what they think about negotiation, most of them say, “it feels like an argument—one I can’t win.”

That’s when I challenge them to think about it differently.

The truth is, everyone negotiates for things every day—starting at a very young age! As kids, we negotiated to stay up a bit later, for mom to read just one more book before going to sleep, and for one more piece of candy. We’ve negotiated for a better car payment, monthly rent, dividing chores at home. A lot of things are up for negotiation in our lives.

So, it stands to reason that you’ve learned some skills over the years, but you may not know how to use them effectively, especially when it counts.

So, in case negotiating is hard for you, too, here are some insights that might help.

The thing about negotiation is that most of us are not taught how to negotiate successfully, and there are so many bad examples of it that we think that’s how it should be done. We watch TV and hear how the government does it, the baseball owners, or hostage negotiators. It’s us against them—and that’s not really the purpose of it.

So, let’s look at what it is, and what it’s not.

Negotiation IS NOT:

  • About taking advantage
  • An argument
  • About who wins and who loses

Negotiation IS:

  • A discussion
  • A collaboration to reach an agreement
  • An opportunity to problem solve

The most successful negotiations are win-win. You’re better off when it’s done, and so is the other party. Together, you can create something bigger and better in the end. It’s about both parties being satisfied and looking forward to a lasting and fruitful relationship.

But, there is often a lot at stake as you go into a negotiation, and preparing for it is key. You don’t have to be rigid about it, and it’s not in your best interest to enter into it feeling scared and timid.

So, how do you prepare?

  1. Know what you need and want, so you can explain your position clearly.
  2. Do your research to understand what the other party might need and want.
  3. Anticipate their objections and practice your thoughtful responses.
  4. Identify all the possible things that can become part of the negotiation.
  5. Listen to understand, and speak to be understood.

Each negotiation has its nuances, surprises, and opportunities to be flexible. But, when you’re ready to step into your power and show up confidently prepared, there is a tremendous opportunity to come out of it with something better than you imagined.

Happy negotiating!