Negotiation is an essential part of everyday life that often gets forgotten. When was the last time you negotiated? When you were trying for a promotion? In a recent meeting with colleagues?
Often negotiation is associated with the corporate world or international relations. People often think of trade negotiations, business mergers or contract discussions but in reality, they occur far more often. However, negotiations of all sizes use the same skills and tactics.
Consider a common situation you encounter at work, such as contributing during a meeting or a group project. Even simply sharing your ideas with the group will result in negotiations. If you had to talk about the point and get other people’s opinions to reach the final outcome then that is a prime example of an everyday negotiation, and you probably did it automatically.
Because these negotiations are often spontaneous it can be hard to prepare. You will often have to think on the spot so knowing a few common everyday negotiation tactics and techniques are bound to give you more success in future negotiations.
1) Consider the long run
If the first negotiation that you have with someone is well mannered, fair and balanced, with both parties coming to a reasonable agreement then future negotiations will be more fruitful. This is of particular importance when negotiating with people within your company as you will likely be negotiating regularly. When negotiating with other companies consider the future. If it a one-off deal, then it may be important to be more aggressive in your tactics compared to a repeat customer.
2) Find the other parties’ motivations
A successful negotiation can rely on discovering the motivations and views of all involved and coming to a conclusion that benefits all. This is often easier said than done. Consider the following example:
You are looking for a new car and decide to take one for a test drive. You ask a number of questions about the car industry, including the bonus or incentive structure at the salesman’s company. From this, you learn that the salesman needs to sell one more car this month to reach his sales targets and earn his commission. If he doesn’t make the sale he could lose out on thousands of pounds. So, you offer to purchase the car on the same day given that he offers you an improved price. We found a win-win situation. Taking time to find the other parties’ interests has allowed a beneficial situation for both buyer and seller.
3) Consider all of the factors
There are thousands of factors to take into consideration when negotiating. Everything from upcoming events to the time of day to someone’s travelling schedule can impact the outcome of a negotiation. For example, negotiations which focus on short-term agreements have been shown to be more open during an afternoon negotiation, compared to long-term agreements being more successful during evening or dinner negotiations. Returning to the example of the car salesman. If you know it is the last day of the month before the salesman has to hit a target, he may be willing to make a deal more attractive to ensure you make the purchase.
4) Body and communication
Regardless of how you prepare for a negotiation, observing the body language and how the other party communicates can be important in determining how to approach the negotiation. Similarly, you must consider your own body language and how you come across to them. A bad posture or lack of eye contact could indicate to the other party that you are not interested in the negotiation and lead to a lack of respect, ultimately leading to a worse outcome.
Considering body language and how someone communicates is something you should do in any negotiation setting from a trader’s stall to a boardroom. It is a great way to get some additional information from the other party, especially when it is a negotiation you have not or could not prepare for.
When you enter a negotiation fully prepared, the outcome will always be better. By sitting down and considering the various possible outcomes you can ensure that you don’t leave a negotiation with a deal you are not happy with. Consider a market stall, if you take some time to consider the maximum price/walk away price, that you will not pay more than, you can ensure that you come away from the negotiation without losing out. If the lowest amount the seller is willing to get is lower than the maximum that you wish to pay then a successful negotiation, with both parties happy, can be achieved.
Negotiation does not come naturally to all. There are various places you can go to develop your everyday negotiation skills and techniques. The Negotiation Society is a group of over 20,000 individuals with an interest in negotiation. From experienced negotiators looking to maintain their skills and communicate with others to students looking to improve their skills, the negotiation society has it covered.