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How to improve your negotiation skills and conduct successful negotiations

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How to improve your negotiation skills and conduct successful negotiations

Many people see the negotiations as an unpleasant, stressful moment that should be avoided at all costs. And because they feel uncomfortable negotiating, confronting, and taking risks, these people often prefer to shorten and end the negotiation process quickly.

Success in negotiations can increase your salary, give you a better place in the hierarchy, gain support for your project or department, get an approval of the desired budget, improve your chances of success at work.

Therefore, it makes sense to overcome your reluctance to negotiate and improve your skills in how to conduct them.

How to conduct successful negotiations (and what skills you need)

You can get an immediate improvement in your negotiation skills simply by following my suggestions below.

Negotiations "I win - You win"

When people imagine a negotiating situation, they think that one of two things will happen: they will either win or lose. However, negotiating professionals do not see this issue in this way. They are aware that successful negotiations are those in which both sides feel victorious - at least to some extent.

When sitting at the negotiating table, do not try to be a winner on absolutely every item on the agenda. Win big battles and give in to small things. Ask yourself, "What is it that I can give up without costing me much, and that would make the other party happy?"

Everything can be negotiated

Many business people believe that certain company policies and procedures are not subject to change and negotiation, as if they were the Ten Commandments. In practice, however, nothing is constant, everything can be negotiated.

Realizing this fact is a strong advantage in negotiations. An engineering consultant, for example, when negotiating his fee with a potential client, was told that the company was unable to accept his condition for partial advance payment. "I don't mind paying a certain amount in advance," explained the project manager, who was an employee of the client company. "However, our company policy does not allow us to pay until at least some of the work has been done."

The consultant knew better than to agree with the news. He replied:

"Bill, I understand that's the way you usually work with your suppliers. However, I am an independent consultant and receive advance payment from people who want to hire me.

I know that the company policy you mention is just a direction of work set by the management of your company and that the management can bypass it if it wants. And I claim that this time you will have to circumvent your rule if you want to hire me. "

A week later, the consultant received an order and a check for a third of his fee.

The rule of three

Before you sit down to negotiate, you should have clarified very precisely three specific figures:

The maximum - the highest figure. This is the highest price you intend to ask for without fear that you will immediately refuse the other party.

The minimum - the lowest figure. This is the lowest price you would accept a deal.

The goal - a realistic figure that you have a good chance to win. Your goal will probably be between 50 and 75 percent of the maximum.

Your effort will pay off if you are optimistic when setting your maximum.

For example, a scientist wants to apply for new laboratory equipment and estimates that such a machine can be purchased for $ 15,000 to $ 50,000. If he asks for $ 50,000 and management halves his budget, the scientist will have $ 25,000. But if he increases his claim by 20% in advance and applies for $ 60,000, halving it will provide the scientist with a budget of $ 30,000. it will have a machine for $ 5,000 more in capacity and capabilities.

When negotiating, strive to achieve your goal, but be prepared to accept any other offer between your minimum and maximum. In some cases, you will be surprised to learn that the maximum you ask for is accepted without objection. In other cases, the other party will not want to hear even the bare minimum. If this happens, you will be forced to take more drastic measures, such as talking to the manager of the employee you are negotiating with, threatening to leave the negotiations, or changing jobs.

You set the rules

The person in charge of the negotiations is usually the one who has determined the main directions of the conversation. Make this person you, not your opponent.

To do this, say:

"Before we begin, I would like to take a look at the current situation and outline what we expect to achieve together."

Then go on to describe things from your point of view. The other party will usually agree with you, intervening only when it wants to make some (small) remarks and comments on what is generally your position. That way, when the negotiations start, you will be in control of the situation - because you have defined it.

You choose the time and place

To succeed in negotiations, you must be physically and mentally prepared. To distract you, the other party may try to surprise you. For example, the boss puts his head through the door and asks you a question that he wants an immediate answer to. Or, suddenly the phone rings and a client wants to get a price for a project that was discussed quite a few months ago.

Don't let yourself be put in a situation you are not prepared for. Tell the boss, "Boss, I'm doing something very urgent right now. Can I walk through your office this afternoon? ” Respond to the client: "I am not alone at the moment, and it will take me some time to calculate the numbers. I'll call you tomorrow. " No reasonable person will deny such arguments, and you will gain time to prepare properly. Also, that you can take advantage of the negotiations at a time and place of your choice.

The arsenal of facts

The best way to prepare for negotiations is to gather information about all the facts, statistics, cases, events, documents, and other evidence that can support your position.

Printed evidence is particularly useful. People are skeptical of oral arguments but would accept that words printed in an article, book, or report are true. Collect research, studies, and articles in a folder, make copies and highlight or highlight key facts to make them stand out on the pages. Use this powerful evidence support when you feel you are losing ground on a key point in the negotiations.

In the end, you may need to use only a small part of all the prepared materials, but in any case, you will negotiate with more confidence, just knowing that you have them. Experience has shown that the people who succeed in negotiations and debates are usually the people who have the most facts.

Do not hurry

People who think logically are usually looking to close negotiations faster. Closing is the final, clear, and well-defined solution to a problem. Many people, including technically-oriented professionals, are looking for closures because they are trained to find the right solutions.

However, life is not a mathematical equation. Negotiations and other human issues cannot always be "wrapped" in mathematical evidence.

When negotiating, you should expect and be prepared to accept some ambiguity in what you are negotiating. If 90% of the issues are resolved and the negotiators are already tired, let the other 10% wait a while. Do not insist on discussing and resolving all, even the smallest details on the same day, otherwise, you risk irritating people against yourself and losing the advantage you have gained so far.

On the other hand, don't give in to your opponent just because you're tired and you go home. Instead, ask for a break. Assess where you have taken it and offer a new meeting to decide everything else… where, thanks to a few days break, each country will approach the negotiations with fresh ideas and ум fresh mind.

Human attitude

Most of all, remember that in your negotiations you are dealing with human beings, not machines.

You will have an advantage if you know as much as possible about your opponent before you sit down to negotiate. Assess what kind of person you will be talking to and adjust your sales style as appropriate. Senior managers, for example, usually want to get into the details quickly. They are interested in the "big picture" and do not want to waste time on trifles.

On the other hand, production or maintenance managers, for example, want to prove that they are aware of all the innovations in their industry… even when they are managers, not just ordinary employees. So before approving a project, they may ask you to explain every detail down to the last detail.

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find that there is sorrow and suffering in every man's life enough to disarm any hostile intent." You may not like your opponent or be angry with him for hindering your intentions, but your negotiations with him should be polite and arrogant, not violent and hostile. Keep your composure if you are attacked and respond with solid arguments and supporting facts. No shouts and outbursts of nervousness.

Whenever possible, try to outline common goals and points where you agree with the other party. After all, this is not a war, but just a negotiation. In most cases, both sides will have similar goals, the difference is in your intentions on how to achieve these goals. When answering, use phrases that show empathy for the other party's position, such as "This is a good point of view" or "I share most of what you said, but…" Make the other party feel like a winner - both together. you will be like that.

Techniques for convincing the opponent, with the option to turn him into a business partner and friend

To get someone to do something, they have to ask for it themselves. Even better, if you convince him to fulfill it with desire. And how about becoming so good that even he decided the idea was his.

Here are some tips to help you become an expert in the art of successful negotiation:

Praise and sincere interest in the opponent

Greet your interlocutor warmly, praise him and start a conversation on a topic that excites him. Examine the person against you in advance and find out where his sense of importance comes from, take an interest in his interests. Find out what he wants and think about what you can offer him.


Take an interest in the person by encouraging him to talk about himself and his successes. In this way, you will show respect to him, and you will also intrigue him indirectly.

In case of dispute - avoid confrontation

The surest way to win a dispute is to avoid it. Be proud of your interlocutor - if he is wrong, what you need to do is, without pressure, gradually convince him of your rights. Meek, modest and well-meaning. Try to understand how things stand from his point of view. Ask him questions that will lead him to the correct answer. Before or after he realizes his mistake, show him that you are not sinless - admit your own mistake - this will make it easier for him to tolerate criticism. Emphasize its strengths, and then tactfully and respectfully discuss what can be corrected and improved. Challenge him and give him a chance to prove himself. However, in case you make a mistake - immediately admit it and apologize.

Magical phrases and tactics during persuasion:

"I may be wrong, let's see the facts."

Isn't that better?

"What do you think about this?"

Socrates' method - ask questions that suggest a yes. They direct the thought process in a positive direction and help to avoid a negative response or rejection.

Look for the intersections of your opinions on a given issue.

Surprise your opponent by presenting your idea unusually and differently.

Bonus advise if you fail to reach a consensus on the topic

Take the time to reconsider. Postpone the meeting on the pretext that you need time to consider the opinion of others. Do not forget to thank your interlocutor for his interest in the case.

About the author

Natalia Novoa, Writer at Business Value-Oriented Principles

Natalia Novoa is a Commercial Finance Expert. Her professional interests are related to financial management and the fintech industry. She is interested in personal development, likes to take exciting trips and meet new and interesting people. He spends much of his free time drawing and writing. The motto she follows is "Be the change you want to see in the world".

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