How to be an effective negotiator
We may all be on a holiday countdown but before then there is still a lot of work to do. Today’s corporate blog focus is on negotiation skills. The post comes hot on the heels of the Paris UN Climate Deal this weekend which was the culmination of years of negotiation. It’s already being hailed, ‘the world’s greatest diplomatic success’.
How would you rate your negotiating skills? Would you be able to pull off the deal of the century or would it simply end in deadlock? In this blog post we’ll be exploring a few of the different tactics successful negotiators employ in order to turn any head-on conflict into a win-win situation.
Remember, negotiating is one part ‘face-to-face dialogue’ and nine parts ‘doing your homework’. So, it’s time to get studying!
Top 7 Tactics for Negotiation Success
- The scary initial offer. Start the negotiation by asking for a price that is much higher than what the product is worth. You can then slowly lower that original figure until you reach a number that satisfies both parties.
- The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Explain to your opponent that the offer you are making is only available for a short period of time. If they don’t act now, they’ll miss a golden opportunity.
- The ‘one more thing’ demand. Once you have come to an agreement, ask for one more small concession. Your opponent won’t want to risk the whole deal falling through over such a small issue.
- The ‘excuse my English’ technique. Claim you don’t understand and ask your opposing negotiator to repeat what they said. Saying the same thing twice is likely to take the wind out of your opponent’s sails and make them feel less comfortable.
- The off-limits policy. Explain at the start of negotiations that you are willing to be flexible on A, B, and C but X, Y, and Z are definitely non-negotiable.
- The differentiation technique. This tactic is every salesman’s best friend. You have to convince your opponent that what you are offering is different from their competitors and most certainly better in every respect.
- The salami tactic. One of the oldest tactics in the book and possibly first used by a Hungarian communist. Don’t demand everything all-at-once. Make a small demand at first and get agreement from your opponent, then make another and another…
Avoid a Zero-Sum Game
Using one of the above tactics will certainly help move along the negotiating process but it is also important to respect and nurture the relationship between you and your opponent, as this may be the first of many deals you do with them. Bear in mind an earlier phrase from this blog post: a win-win situation. It is tempting to approach the negotiating process with win-lose in mind, where you gain what your opponent loses. This is sometimes referred to as a zero-sum game. This does nothing to nurture the relationship with your opponent so it is likely that you will have to let your opponent have something for themselves as well as gaining something of your own. And as Don Herold, an American writer once said: Don’t slam a door. You might want to go back in.