How to Negotiate Effectively: 5 Steps

A negotiation is a strategic discussion aimed at resolving an issue in a way that is acceptable for both parties. During a negotiation, each party tries to persuade the other to accept his/her point of view. Negotiators try to avoid arguing, and agree to reach a compromise. To strengthen your negotiation power, you should follow these 5 steps:  

1. Show your value. To get something that you need from someone, you need to give him/her good reasons to give it to you. The best way to achieve that is to create value for that person. More specifically, you need to show him/her that giving you what you need will be beneficial to him/her as well. For example, if you are negotiating a raise, you need to show your value to your employer, i.e. how you earn or save money for the company.

2. Be flexible. To negotiate successfully, you need to be flexible: you should not be limited to one strategy, but be ready to manoeuvre during the negotiation. If you choose your moves flexibly, you are more likely to offer a solution that is beneficial to both you and the other party. For example, if you get a demand, ask to explain the rationale behind it. Then take a few minutes to brainstorm new solutions or inquire if anyone else has granted the demanded terms. It is also important to give people multiple choices so that they can feel involved in decision-making, and do not feel forced into anything.

3. Have a plan B. To feel secure during the negotiation process, you need to be prepared what to do next if your plan A does not work out for some reason. You need to know your next steps in case you are put in a tough situation or there are some unexpected circumstances. “Expect the unexpected, and that way the element of surprise won’t throw you off your game,” explains Shawna Fisher, Chief Financial Officer at Help Scout, a provider of help desk software. 

4. Focus on the other party’s pressure. During dealmaking, negotiators tend to focus on the reasons which put pressure on them. This behaviour is counterproductive: if you focus too much on your own limitations, you miss the big picture. Instead, successful negotiators try to identify and take advantage of the pressure on the other party. Having identified the reasons that make the other party give in, they feel more powerful in the negotiation. Their negotiation power is partially based on the pressure put on the other party. The more they exploit that pressure, the better results they can achieve.

5. Take advantage of silence. Most people talk a lot when they are nervous. If you talk too much, you risk missing some opportunities during the negotiation. For example, if a seller thinks that your offer is too low, do not respond right away. If you do so, the seller will start talking to fill the silence. In most cases, (s)he will give away some useful information that (s)he would not have given away otherwise. “Listen and think more than you speak. When you do speak, ask open-ended questions,” advises Jeff Haden, a contributing editor to inc.com.


References:  Will Kenton, investopedia.com | David Weliver, moneyunder30.com | Carolyn O’Hara, hbr.org | Shawna Fisher, helpscout.com | Ed Brodow, brodow.com | Jeff Haden, inc.com

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