The truth about Negotiating – the 12 secrets to get better deals
Look, Listen and learn the 12 secrets to make you a confident negotiator
Many people find the prospect of high-level business negotiating terrifying, and would probably consider jumping out of an aeroplane a less stressful than asking for a raise. The word for this phenomenon of the fear of negotiating is called “Negotiaphobia”.
In this article I reveal the secrets for overcoming the fear of asking for what you want.
There is more to a successful business negotiation, than simply putting your case or request and waiting, hopefully for a positive answer.
Preparation, an understanding of the negotiating environment and a confident disposition, will make the whole procedure work more effectively for you and might even be enjoyable.
You may have already experienced different negotiating scenarios. These can vary from confrontational “take it or leave it” situations, to the jackets off, first names only, round the table, approach, which was once known as the Tony Blair approach.
One very good way of improving your negotiation skills and overcoming any fears you might have, is by appealing to your legitimate self-interest.
A five -year study of delegates attending a senior management course at Henley Business School revealed that managers with high-calibre negotiating skills earned 100 per cent more than their peers. This shows how important being a good negotiator can be.
There are four basic outcomes for the parties involved in any negotiation strategy:
• win / win
• win / lose
• lose / win
• lose / lose
In today’s world of global alliances and local mutuality, the first outcome, where everybody wins, is the most desirable and therefore the most commonly sought.
1 – Understand what you want “Your Position”
First things first. It is important to assess your own negotiating abilities and your attitude to the process. Do you enjoy the cut and thrust of negotiation, or do you find it too confrontational by half?
It is important to remember to de-personalize the process, not to the extent that you appear cold and indifferent but to enable you to keep in mind the fact that the objective is to secure a potentially lasting business relationship; a case of separating the people from the problem.
2 – If you fail to prepare, then you prepare to fail
There is no substitute for thorough research prior to the meeting, especially when you are part of (or even leading) a negotiating team.
The most successful negotiators will, on average, spend at least 10 times more time on preparation than less experienced hands.
It is important to establish your most favourable position, your walk-away position and the likely stance of those you will be talking to. What intangible items you may be prepared to trade during the course of discussion should also be determined.
For complex negotiations it is advisable to role-play potential scenarios first. This will give you and your team a better idea of how to conduct yourselves and of how to respond to tough questions or demands.
3 – Phrasing the questions correctly
How you ask a question is just as important as what you ask. Open questions should be used where possible: what, who, when, and so on.
If possible, avoid prefacing a question with “why”. If you ask what the reason is rather than why, you are much less likely to get a negative reaction. (Why can often open the reptilian brain’s “fight or flight” response and people can become immediately defensive).
The recipient of the question won’t be forced on the defensive and may give more information away as a result.
Avoid making statements, especially those, which you may be called upon to substantiate there and then. Even if you can prove your point, by being categorical, you risk an “escalation of confrontation”.
4 – Listen carefully
Good negotiators are good listeners.
The key is to listen to what the other person is really saying rather than thinking so far ahead that you miss important information. In general, people speak at around 200 words a minute, but can think at up to 2,000 words a minute. Although you may have met some people where it seems the reverse is true.
As well as listening to what is being said, you need to listen to how it is being said and with what accompanying gestures. You may think the body language is an unimportant component but a skilled negotiator will appreciate the inference of tone and gesture; in other words, what isn’t said. Research goes so far as to suggest that 55 per cent of the information received and perceived during any encounter is visual.
5 – Empathy – Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
This may sound like a curious concept to discuss in the context of business negotiation, but to ignore it entirely would be foolish. Empathy in this context is about understanding what the other parties’ objectives are.
By not correctly assessing needs and wants, conflict can arise out of silly misunderstandings:
The story of two young girls fighting over one orange effectively illustrates this point. Both want the orange for their own purposes but do not initially tell one another what those purposes are.
After the orange has been squashed to a pulp in the struggle, it transpires that one of the two wanted to squeeze the orange to make juice, while the other wanted the peel to make marmalade. If they had fully discussed each other’s needs first, both would have got what they wanted.
The point is that although you may feel you understand the situation, everyone’s perception is different and it is this, which must be remembered.
Empathy can be achieved in a number of ways, buy rui clomid including social meetings and team discussions before the negotiation proper. The use of humour, where appropriate, is always a good idea in that it shows that you are human.
Empathy also helps you to anticipate the tactical moves that might arise out of a negotiating situation. This obviously stems from a perceived better understanding of the two parties; you and them.
6 – Psychological Tactics
What else are tactics about if they are not about the means of altering the perception of power in a bargaining scenario?
This does not mean that you should be unethical. It is merely a way of encouraging a particular view or a line of discussion to prevail. You will of course, be on the lookout for any tactics being employed on you.
Sometimes, by correctly identifying a strategy and making it known, you can neutralise it or turn it to your own advantage. It is also important that you brief your team on the tactics you intend to employ and the part each member is to play.
7 – Bargaining / Haggling
This is always a tricky area. Give away nothing and the other party will think you are an aggressive negotiator. Give away too much and you will be condemned for ever more as a soft touch with a generous heart and an empty wallet.
An effective strategy is to reduce the expectations of the opposing team early on, thus making any concessions or offers you do make seem much more attractive.
Never accept the first offer, even if it is exactly the deal you are looking for. Your haste may create distaste and that is just on your own side. If concessions must be made, do so graciously and at least create the impression that you have in no way compromised or inconvenienced yourself or your colleagues.
8 – Find creative solutions
Tried and tested solutions to negotiating stumbling blocks are well and good but that should not stop you exploring other avenues, that may be without precedent. New ideas will come out of brainstorming processes, which should be engaged by both before the scheduled meeting and during time outs.
Think outside the box. Try not to reject proposals outright, no matter how absurd they might seem. Remember, Leonardo da Vinci’s idea for a helicopter, though initially ridiculed, caught on eventually.
9 – Have confidence
A nervous lead negotiator is likely to achieve very little. You will only succeed in boosting the confidence of your opposite number(s) and unnerving your own side.
Rigorous coaching and even videoing of role-playing sessions will all help in the preparation of a calm and collected exterior, even if your insides are churning like a cement mixer.
There are a number of breathing and visualisation techniques that can be employed to calm and relax you. Slow, regular, deep breaths always help, as does filling your mind with images of blue whales or waves gently lapping Caribbean shores.
And remember, if you look your best, you will feel your best and more confident.
10 – Take a colleague or two
It is unlikely that any serious senior-level negotiation will take place between just two people. The information and situations discussed will often be too complex for one mind to deal with, so having a team within which the divisions of labour are clearly identified is essential.
The size and scope of your team will obviously depend upon the size of your company and the subjects under discussion.
11 – Telephone negotiations
Not all business matters are settled face to face. Sometimes it is inconvenient for a meeting to take place due to location or the time constraints.
A telephone discussion can therefore be the next best option or simply a tactic employed by either side as a means of defining their position towards the negotiation. Either way, it requires a different approach.
Without the benefit of being able to observe the other person’s body language, your empathic listening skills will assume an even greater importance. For this reason, use a speakerphone where possible so that your colleagues can listen in and offer input where appropriate. Ensure at the outset, however, that the other party knows you are doing this and whom you have in the room with you.
Concentration is the key. To this end ensure that your phone conversation is in private, away from any distractions even the slightest interruption could mean that you miss something vital.
Listen to everything. If the person with whom you are dealing is concealing something or is unsure. They will give it away in “aural clues”, such as a slowing of speech, slight hesitations or a change in pitch. Silence is a powerful tool in face-to-face and telephone conversations, although it is a little more difficult to use this tactic in the latter.
12 – In summary
Regardless of what jobs we do, we are all negotiators, both at work and in our personal lives. The skills and techniques outlined above are inherent within all of us; it merely requires practise and discipline to make them work effectively.
Your career, your family life, even just a trip to an antique market can be transformed if you know how to negotiate effectively. We all want the best deal in every aspect of our lives. The above strategies will help you in the pursuit of that goal.
Derek Arden has been voted the number one Speaker on Negotiation in the UK for 2016 by members of the Professional Speaking Association. An International Negotiator for over 25 years, Best Selling Author and seminar leader. Book Derek now