Just Exactly How Do You Negotiate?

If you want to do a good job, you first have to know how to negotiate
If you want to do a good job, you first have to know how to negotiate
Image Credit: Brian Kelley

Often when I’m working with new negotiators, they’ll ask me the classic question “how do I negotiate?” This is a fair question – even if it is a bit broad. We all negotiate every day even if we don’t really realize that we are doing it. What my students are really asking me is how they should go about conducting themselves during a formal negotiation. This may be a new experience for them, so that makes the answer to this question very important to them.

You Need To Understand The Position That You Are In

So when you enter into a negotiation, what do you really have going for you? One of the most important things that you have on your side is the power of commitment. What you need to realize is that this is exactly what has allowed other negotiators to be very, very successful.

What you are going to be working with is going to be a willingness to take risks – you are going to be willing to gamble with the outcome of the negotiations in order to see if you can capture a bigger deal than you thought was possible. You are going to be working with the power of legitimacy – you are supposed to be right here, right now. You will use your power of wooing the other side. You will use your power of knowledge of what you want and what the other side is trying to get. You may also in certain circumstances have the power of competition. All of this is based on you having the power of time which in the end will control how your negotiation turns out.

When you are dealing with a negotiating situation in which you are part of a team that is involved in the negotiation, you will have a key responsibility. It will be your job to enhance, fortify, and bolster the morale and powers of your team. They will experience ups and downs as a part of the negotiation and you need to be there to make sure that they have the support that they are going to need during the entire process.

How To Go About Conducting A Negotiation

All of this discussion about what powers you’ll have when you enter into a negotiation is nice, but it does lead to the most important question that my students ask me: how do I actually go about conducting one of these negotiations properly. The first thing that you have to do is before the negotiations even start, you need to take the time to look at yourself, what position you’ll be taking, who you’ll be negotiating with, and the negotiating process.

Once you feel that you have a good understanding of everything that is going to be in play during this negotiation, you need to have an understanding of what the other side is going to be doing. They will be using their negotiation styles and negotiating techniques along with tactics and you are going to have to realize that what they are doing may be true or they are using tactics. When this happens, you are going to have to buy yourself some time. You’ll use this time to think about how the negotiations are going. You are going to want to determine what things you can do in order to counter the tactics that the other side may be using.

Once you have this all worked out, you need to take the next step. You need to make a decision about how you want to proceed with the negotiation and then just plunge in and do it. Your goal needs to be to be searching for ways that you can help the other side to change their mind. You’ve got a lot of options that you can use to make this happen, but perhaps you won’t have to use them. Your goal needs to be to find ways to entice the other side with your proposal and get them to commit to it. You’ve got to realize that negotiation is a game and it has to be played the right way.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiating can appear to be a complex undertaking from the outside. Often first time negotiators are dealing with the question of just exactly how they should go about starting and conducting a formal principled negotiation . It turns out that they actually have a great deal more going for them at the start of a negotiation than they may realize.

They’ve got the power of commitment. They’ve got a willingness to take risks, the power of legitimacy, and all of the power that time grants them. When the negotiation starts, they need to realize that they need to start by taking the time to look at all of the people and issues that will be involved in the negotiation. Next they need to realize that the other side will be using tactics as a part of their negotiating strategy and so they need to buy themselves time to evaluate how they want to respond to the tactics. They need to have a goal to win the other side over to their way of thinking by playing the game of negotiation correctly.

Negotiating is a skill. Just like any other skill it can be learned by both study and practice. As negotiators, we need to understand that the other side will be using their learned tactics against us and we need to both recognize and then react to them correctly. Take the time to plan out your next negotiation and you’ll discover that you are able to walk away with the deal that you were looking for.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: When the other side starts to use tactics against you, do you think that you should respond with your own tacitcs?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you are negotiating with someone, should you aim high and risk losing the deal or should you aim low and risk leaving money on the table? We’ve all heard the phrase “Ask for more and you’ll get more” right? However, in the world of high stakes negotiating with all of its negotiation styles and negotiating techniques, does this really apply? It turns out that it does; however, your job just might be working against you.