Negotiation 101 for dummies

You'll be winning at negotiations even if you're no good it with these tips Click To Tweet

You have been in negotiations for quite some time already. No matter how hard you try, you are confronted by a silent wall every time you attempt to find anything about the other party. Communication is not passing through and you only know your position. Worse, the tension is building up and your opponent is becoming more aggressive by the minute. What do you do?

You might be tempted to give up, to stay on your position, or to concede to their requests. However, none of these options will give you what you need. This article will present you with tools to ease into negotiations and achieve a satisfactory agreement.

Never state, always ask

Asking questions is a way to educate and seek information. By asking questions, you show a willingness to take the other party’s opinion into consideration. You also communicate your desire to understand their situation.

Questions are also a wonderful tool to make them understand your own position. Ask them what they would do in your place. Ask them hypothetical questions like, “What if I did exactly what you asked, what would be the consequences that I will face?”. It will help put their demands in perspective and show how realistic their proposal is.

The power of silence

Silence, when used right, is a very powerful tool it shows that you are listening and paying attention to what is being said. When silent, do not try to think about what you are going to say next or how to counter their current argument. Focus on what is being said and on making sure you have a proper understanding of the situation.

When you ask a question, make sure you refrain from commenting or saying anything at all until you receive a full answer. By staying silent, you are pushing them to elaborate on what was said. This is an effective way to gather as many details as possible on an issue.

Silence makes people nervous and compelled to fill in the absence of noise. The more comfortable you are with being silent the better negotiation ninja you will become.

Forget about bottom lines

The purpose of setting a bottom line is to protect your interest by making sure that the outcome of a negotiation will never go above what you are willing to concede.

By setting a bottom line you will consider only one scenario as the least acceptable one. However, the costs of considering a unique outcome greatly outweigh the benefits of a bottom line.

A bottom line cannot be changed and therefore lacks in flexibility. It will keep you away from bad deals as well as wise deals. It will also limit the influx of creative input and the making of imaginative solutions. A bottom line will cut short discussions without solving anything.

Developing your best alternative

Negotiating power is gained when the option of not reaching an agreement is as or more appealing than the option of reaching it.

Before entering any discussion, you must think about the possibility of not reaching an agreement. What will you do if negotiations are not conclusive? What is your best alternative to negotiations? Thinking about the possible failure of discussions will help make the most out of your situation.

It is, therefore, important to prepare yourself. Take a moment to brainstorm all possible alternatives to the negotiations. Out of all the ideas generated, choose a few to develop into concrete plans. Then assess which out of the developed plans is the best for your situation and select your best alternative.

The more attractive the alternative, the more power you will have during the negotiations. A powerful best alternative should make you want to call off negotiations before they even started.

Dismantling the other side’s best alternative

Part of your preparation will involve understanding the other party. You need to gain as much information as possible on their motivations, interest, and above all, you will need to know what their best alternative is. Sometimes, if not readily available, the information will have to be obtained during the discussion process.

Once you have acquired all the knowledge you need, you have to ask yourself: “Is their best alternative attractive? Is it easily attainable? Is it realistic?”

If the answer to all three questions is no, then you have all negotiating powers on your side.

If the answer to all three questions is yes, you will have to consider taking actions that will decrease the attractiveness of their best alternative.

Most frequently, the answers are a combination of yes and no. If it is your case, you will not only have to show that your alternative is more attractive to you than theirs is to them, but also explain why their best alternative might not be the best solution.

Always keep in mind that the easier it is to walk away from the discussion, the more negotiating power you hold.

Webinar with Janet Asante: Negotiating For What You’re Worth (Mar 10)

Janet Asante-Sullivan Photoshoot

Young African women know how to bargain and do whatever it takes to get the best deal. It doesn’t matter what you’re buying, we’re going to make sure we walk away happen. But something happens when you call the conversation a negotiation and move it from a shop or market stall and place it inside a boardroom or office environment. We lose our nerve and we miss out on opportunities to advance our careers.

Harvard Business School research has shown that across the globe young women don’t negotiate and this contributes to thousands of dollars in pay inequality over a lifetime. We don’t know about you, but we want that money in our pocket!

On Thursday March 10 we hosted a special webinar with Janet Asante on how to negotiate for what you’re worth. With more than 18 years of experience in the corporate world she helped us build our negotiating toolkit to make sure we’re getting all we deserve at work and in our businesses.

Some of the topics we covered:

  • What is negotiating and how can it help you succeed at work and in your business
  • How can you build your confidence before entering a big negotiation
  • Ways to practice your corporate negotiation skills even when you’re not at work
  • What things you should negotiate for and what topics should be left alone
  • The five phrases you should NEVER say during a negotiation

About Janet Asante:

Janet Asante is a human resources executive with 18 years of proven leadership experience and a successful track record serving as trusted advisor to executive leadership team members including CEOs, Board of Directors, General Counsels and Executives. She has comprehensive HR leadership experience in private, non-profit, government contracting, and information technology industries.

She is also the co-founder of Guiding the Journey, a nonprofit committed to improving the lives of African youth in America and Africa. Over the years they have helped over 200 high school students with the college preparation process and adults with career advice.

Janet was born in Ghana and immigrated to the US when she was 8 years old. She is passionate about all things Africa and helping people bring their best selves to work.