8 Tips on How to Become a Better Negotiator

The art of negotiation depends on two or more parties reaching a compromise that is beneficial to all. Sometimes, the benefits are unequal or disproportionate to parties. If you would like to learn how to make sure you are getting a fair deal when you finish negotiations, we have prepared this article especially for you!

Below, you will find some useful tips on how to become a better negotiator.

1. Ask and You Shall Receive!

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Some people feel that it is rude to ask directly for what you want in life and that you should wait for it to be offered to them, with this approach you risk being treated as a doormat. Although patience is a virtue and it sometimes pays off to wait for things, if you don’t let people know what you want, how are they supposed to know that is what you are after?

Some people are afraid of receiving “no” for an answer. Don’t worry if you request was rejected. It is better to get an immediate answer than to be unsure about something. By being vague or beating around the bush, it can be unclear to others what it exactly is that you want.

So, remember to make your terms and conditions evident right off the bat by putting them on the negotiating table so that all parties know what you want.

2. Keep Your Ears Open

The importance of good listening skills is too often underestimated when it comes to negotiating. The truth is that successful negotiations are based on an ongoing exchange of information and that is why it is key to ask questions and listen carefully to your counterparts responses. By doing so, you will find out the key interests involved in the negotiations and will give you more options to better think of a win-win solution ensuring that all parties are happy.

Here are some ways you can improve your listening skills:

  • Never Interrupt – By doing so, you are giving the other side your undivided attention. Interrupting the flow of information can be a risk as you may not learn everything you need to know. If you have any questions or comments, it’s a good idea to take notes and address them after your counterpart has finished speaking.
  • Use Body Language – If you maintain eye contact, nod, and throw in the occasional smile while the other side is speaking, this not only shows the other side that you are listening but also makes them feel more comfortable about revealing information.
  • Paraphrase – By repeating what you have heard in your own words, you are not only showing your negotiation partner that you are paying attention, but that you also understand completely what they are saying.
  • Ask for Clarification – By making sure you are on the same page by asking questions like “I’m not sure I’m following you.” You are sending a clear indication that you are paying attention.

Try to stay open-minded and maintain objectivity, by listening attentively you may notice things that the person does not say, for example: they do not want to give reasons for a certain decision related to a delivery date. This could indicate they are under more pressure than they want to let on. Finally, remember to read between the lines and listen more than talk.

3. Do Your Homework

Before entering talks, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself by getting to know your opponent. Here are some points that will help you get the upper hand on your negotiating counterpart:

  • Learn Their Point of View – By looking at things through their eyes, you will have a basic idea of how much you can ask for. Ask yourself how much they need your product or service and what they would be willing to give in order to obtain it.
  • Understand Their Perspective, Know What They Want – You’re going to want to establish some bargaining chips for yourself before you sit down at the negotiating table. So, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions like:
  • What does the other side need that I can easily provide?
  • Is there anything else I can facilitate that may be of interest to them?
  • Alternative Measures – Do some research on your negotiating partner’s competition, find out what services they offer, at what prices, what sets them apart from the others, etc. This way your negotiation counterpart will not only see that you are aware of the market and are considering other means but you might be able to talk them down a little too.

A little research goes a long way, and by being able to anticipate your opponent, you will most certainly prepare the ground in order to reach a successful compromise.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk

It’s important to remember when making a deal that there is always another option. If you aren’t able to close the deal with that particular vendor, supplier, landlord, etc. there is always an alternative. By keeping this in mind, you will have the upper hand when negotiating as well as the confidence to close the deal successfully.

Likewise, the less your counterparts think the deal matters to you, the less confident they will be and will have doubts about their ability to get you on board with their product or service. In turn, they may feel they are losing you and  will try to offer you a deal you can’t refuse.

Closing the deal is important but being able to know when to walk away is just as important. When done correctly, it’s like hitting the reset button, although it can be difficult at times as you risk damaging your business relationship with that particular individual or company.

Here are some points that will help you better decide if walking away from the deal is a good idea or not:

  • Knowledge is Power –The more knowledge you have about a particular product or service, the more powerful position you will be in. If you are negotiating the price of a car for example, you should not only know how much you are willing to spend, but also the present market value of the vehicle as well as other vehicles within its class range. So, before you negotiate, do some research and planning.
  • Decide Your Agreement Zone – Each party in negotiations always has a desired outcome as well as a worst-case scenario. The zone of possible agreement exists between each party’s desired outcome and worst-case scenario. If you are unable to reach a compromise favourable to you, it might be a good idea to take a hike.
  • Walk Away the Right Way – If it is necessary for you to walk away from a deal, be sure that you do it in a kind and courteous manner. It’s important not to burn bridges, the other party might reconsider things because you walked away and contact you later on with a better deal.

So remember that walking away from a deal politely isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can bring with it certain benefits.

5. What’s the Rush?

In today’s world of business time is money, and this is precisely why we pretend that we have plenty of it. If others see that we have tight deadlines to meet and if time is a critical factor for us in some way, they may try to exploit this and use it against us.

Take your time! Even if the realisation time is important to you, it’s better to put on your poker face and act like you have all the time in the world. This way, you won’t risk looking desperate and can have more favourable negotiating terms during talks.

6. Play The Reluctant Party

In negotiations there is always  reluctant party and an eager party 80% of the time. If you play the reluctant party, the other side usually ends up taking on the eager side.

Here are some things you might want to consider when trying to seem more reluctant:

  • Body Language –Stay calm and composed, while sitting in a relaxed manner because they have nothing to prove. They usually do the listening because after all, they are the ones that need convincing.
  • Voice Manipulation – By speaking slowly and softly, as well as lowering the pitch of your voice, you will appear to be more hesitant.
  • Use Appropriate Language – Make sure you ask a lot of questions, while posing a lot of challenges, like: “I don’t think we will be able to get it to you that early because of… “. Also, try incorporating phrases like “I’m not so sure about that.” as well as “I don’t think that’s possible.” into your dialogue. This will force the other side to ensure you that things will be okay.

This can give you great leverage when negotiating as the other side will be trying to convince you why you should buy their product or service or collaborate with them instead of their competition.

7. Aim for the Stars

Always aim high and expect the best outcome. By doing so, you will have leeway between your desirable outcome and the other side’s worst-case scenario.

During negotiations, the other side will always try to talk you down, if your expectations are higher than what you are willing to accept, you will have something to bargain with and the other side will think that they have successfully negotiated something out of you.

8. The Pressure is on Them, Not You

When negotiating, focus on putting pressure on the other side. Don’t concern yourself with the load on your shoulders, by keeping a cool head, you will persevere and come out on top.

Try getting the other side on the hook early to cut a deal. This way they will feel as if they need to close the deal as soon as they can.

Be patient, the last thing you want is for the other party to think you are under the gun to close the deal.

Keep an eye out for constraints which may affect your counterpart’s ability to bargain, these could be things like budget limits, direction from management, pressure to meet sales targets, and other external forces. Make sure you take advantage of them because they may be crucial in whether you will make or break the deal.

Useful Vocabulary

English            definition or synonym
a fair deala deal that is honest and good for both sides
doormatsomeone who allows others to mistreat or take advantage of them
virtuequality, merit, ideal
pays offis worth it
beating around the bushto avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant
right off the batright from the beginning
exchange of informationthe transfer of words and knowledge
key interestsareas of specific importance
a win-win solutiona solution where everybody gets what they want and are happy in the end
undivided attentionwhen one is focused on one thing and is not distracted by anything else
flow of informationthe movement of words, data or knowledge
maintain eye contacta situation where two people look at each other’s eyes at the same time
in your own wordsto express something in your own way
paying attentionto concentrate on someone or something
open-mindedacceptant, impartial, tolerant
let onto hint or infer
read between the linesto look for or discover a meaning that is implied rather than explicitly stated
get the upper hand onto gain the advantage
through their eyestheir point of view
bargaining chipsa potential concession or other factor which can be used to advantage in negotiations
easily providesupply without difficulty
be of interestappealing, attractive
other meansthrough ways or methods
talk them downTo make someone think something is less valuable or attractive.
anticipateforesee, predict
prepare the groundto make it easier for something to occur or be developed
have doubts aboutto be wary or uncertain of something
on boardto support a particular idea, product, service, or organisation
in turnconsecutively, sequentially
a deal you can’t refusea deal that is too good to pass up
closing the dealreaching a business agreement
hitting the reset buttonstarting over again
business relationshipan association between individuals or companies entered into for commercial purposes
powerful positionan advantageous, strong or dominant position
market valuethe amount for which something can be sold on a given market
desired outcomewanted result
worst-case scenariothe most unfavourable situation
take a hikeleave
burn bridgesto destroy paths, connections, relationships, opportunities
reconsider thingsrethink things
time is moneythe idea that it’s better to do things as quickly as possible because time is a valuable resource
tight deadlinesa strict time or data when a particular task or thing must be finished
critical factoran aspect of component that is  crucial in the decision making process
exploittake advantage of
take your timenot hurry
poker facea face that does not show emotions which may suggest intention
all the time in the worldlots of time
reluctantcautious, hesitant, wary
eagerkeen, restless, avid
composedcool, relaxed, at ease
relaxed mannereasy going
nothing to proveto not have to do anything more to show that one is skilful, successful, etc.
hesitantcautious, reluctant, wary
try incorporatingattempt to merge or integrate
leveragean advantage or bargaining chip
collaborateto cooperate, work together
leewaythe amount of freedom to move or act that is available
willing to acceptready to allow or consent
load on your shouldersa burden that you are responsible for
keeping a cool headstaying calm and relaxed, not getting overly excited
come out on topto be more successful than others
on the hookto be in a bad situation or tight spot
cut a dealreach a business agreement
under the gunto be under pressure
keep an eye out be observant
meet sales targetsachieve selling goals
make or break the dealto succeed or fail completely in the business arrangement

What do you think about the advice in this article? Is it useful?

Have you got any other suggestions on how to be a better negotiator?

Join the discussion!

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