3 Simple Steps to a Successful Negotiation

Negotiation is simply a discussion aimed at reaching agreement - and it is a major part of any job.

You may be trying to increase your pay or responsibilities with your manager; or organising holiday schedules with your colleagues – both of these scenarios involve negotiation skills.

What most people don’t realise is that it is also a major part of daily life.

You will use the same skills when you are deciding where to go on holiday (or a night out) with friends or discussing whose turn it is to cook the dinner!

So how can you improve your negotiation skills and make sure everyone walks away happy with the outcome?

1. Prepare

The first part of preparation is to clarify exactly:

  • what you want to achieve; and
  • what you are prepared to accept.

This will give you your ‘window of negotiation’. For example, you would love to have a 7.5% pay increase but would be happy with 3% - that is your window.

Now decide what you are prepared to give up in return. So, if you desperately want the following Friday off, so you can have a 4-day bank holiday weekend, you will probably have to give up the next one.

Once you have clarified your ‘boundaries’, and before you start the conversation, put yourself into the shoes of the other person. Imagine the issues that they will have to deal with if they say yes and tell them how you can help. If asking for a holiday on Friday is going to increase their workload can you work late to help them get on top of things? To make it easier to justify that pay rise suggest ways you can take some responsibilities away from your manager.

Next, make a note of the benefits that you, and the other person, will get if you succeed in the negotiation.

Finally, you may think that it will give you an edge to start the conversation without giving them advance notice but this will often back-fire. The moment you start talking they are in a position of negotiation and, if they have not have had time to prepare, they chances are they will be less open to your proposals and less flexible!

2. Listen

When they respond listen carefully to what the other person is saying. If you show them that you are taking notice of their concerns this will encourage them to consider your request. It is said that listening gives you more control over the conversation than talking so say your piece and then stop - listen - and reply only when they have finished.

If the initial response is no:

  • avoid defending your point  - instead ask questions about their concerns and steer the conversation towards possible solutions;
  • avoid becoming aggressive, emotional or loud - keep calm and have a positive tone of voice and you may be able to keep the door open; and
  • ask for time to think about their concerns and suggest re-scheduling the conversation to give everyone time to reflect and look for an alternative solution.

3. Be Positive

Experts have identified two different approaches to negotiation:

  • promotion focussed: where you see your goals as opportunities to advance or gain rewards; and
  • prevention focussed: where the goals are hurdles to overcome or bring additional risk or responsibilities.

A promotion-focussed mind-set is a more positive approach to have and improves your success rate. (www.heidigranthalvorson.com).

Focus on of the benefits that you, and the other person, will get if you succeed throughout the conversation and avoid thinking about the risks you might face if you fail.

Being positive and confident is the key to successful negotiation. Telling yourself that you are going to reach a successful outcome, for all parties, before you start the conversation is more likely to end in the right answer.

Finally, whatever it is you want to achieve - good luck!!