Many people fall into the trap of believing that negotiating is all about getting what you want: in fact, it’s about working out the most favourable solution. This may seem like a subtle nuance, but it’s an important one, and fine-tuning your approach to negotiation can open up great new opportunities to succeed and thrive. Unless you happen to hold all the cards (in which case it isn’t really a negotiation) you will find that soft skills will be more helpful to your cause than brute obstinacy.
Indeed, it is worth noting from the outset that you way you believe you negotiate is not necessarily how others perceive it. Research has shown that more than half of us who believe we’re being assertive are in fact seen by others as under-assertive, and vice versa. This is why listening is such an important skill when working on that sale, pushing for that raise, or trying to find a compromise in a domestic dispute. You can’t be 100% sure how you come across, but by responding to your counterpart, asking them difficult questions, and ensuring you understand their point of view, you put yourself in a much better position to talk them round.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with assertiveness in itself. This doesn’t mean being stubborn so much as being bold: when you make the first offer, for example, you set the tone for the whole negotiation. Likewise, researching the situation thoroughly, and deciding firmly for yourself what your ideal outcome and your bottom line are before you enter the room, should arm you with more confidence with which to prevail.
Many of our toughest negotiations come about due to difficult circumstances or heightened emotions, but are best resolved with a cool head and a firm grasp of technique. To get started, check out our new infographic, which runs through some of the most basic yet valuable approaches to getting the edge in your negotiations, whatever the nature of the dispute.
Healthy Place. 2013. Listening skills: a powerful key to successful negotiating. healthyplace.com
Hedges, K. 2013. Six surprising negotiation tactics that get you the best deal. forbes.com
Jobsite. 2010. Negotiation and active listening skills. jobsite.co.uk
Salary.com. Most people don’t negotiate due to fear and lack of skills. salary.com
Stillman, J. 2014. How hard should you push in negotiations? 3 science-backed tips. inc.com
Swyers, M. Secrets of a master negotiator. Inc.com
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