Negotiations are everywhere. When persuasion is involved, negotiations are at play, even if neither party recognises it. It pays to be good at negotiations because it is largely the art of getting outcomes in your favour, the better you are the better the outcomes. Below are some of the pointers I stick to when preparing for a negotiation.
Have clear goals
Before any negotiation, you should know what your objections are. Why are you meeting this person int he first place? It could be to get a second meeting, make a sale, or strike a bargain. Use BATNA to help you with this if you are new to the principles of negation. It stands for Better Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Basically, it means know when you should walk away. Sometimes the best deal is the deal not made. If a negotiation cannot make it to your minimum criteria of success (goal) then it is better not to do it.
Do your homework
The more you know about the other party, the better you can prepare. Use social media to learn about their history. Use Youtube and other video sources to see how they talk and dress if available. Doing so will not only help you tailor your message delivery but also help you avoid their distastes.
Find a good meeting location
As simple as this might sound, it is important. Make sure the meeting is held in the right environment. It could be a casual meeting at a cafe or pub or a formal meeting at an office. Use the environment to your advantage, whether it is to make the other party feel at ease, intimidate them, or impress them.
Focus on them
Your focus should mostly be on them. Listen most of the time. Many novice negotiators think negotiating is about sounding smart. In reality, it is about listening and accurately finding their pain points, real problems, goals, and objectives. Discover the “Why” behind their desires, their motives. If in doubt for words, ask “Tell me more?” or “Can you elaborate?”
Make incremental steps
Don’t aim to go big or go home. That is for the movies. Instead, work on moving through each element of the negotiation in small steps. This makes it easier to keep track of in real time and increases the chances of a mutually beneficial conclusion. If a point is not agreed upon, say that you can both come back to it later. If things get sour, ask “Can we re-start?”
Look for unequal value
Perceptions of value vary. Don’t assume that both parties place equal importance on the same points. Discover the value they have for each point. This ensures that win-win situations are not missed. If they start to deviate in their demands, hold them to their previously-stated values.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to negotiations. Master this art and life will be easier. Your whole life will be made out of interactions. If you even get marginally better at negotiations, you can create better outcomes in each and every interaction.