Get What You Want: Negotiate Your Way to Success

Written by Angela Atkinson

Negotiation Cartoons: Positions Vs. Interests

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.” ~Brian Koslow

Do you ever encounter situations when you feel very strongly about how you believe a project should be planned, carried out or completed?

Do you sometimes feel annoyed that the others involved don’t see the situation the same as you do?

Here’s where good negotiation skills come in handy.

Regardless of the career you’ve chosen, there will be times you’ll find negotiation necessary. Learning this critical skill will also improve your personal relationships.

And I’ve got good news: it’s not as hard as you think to learn to negotiate effectively. Try these tips to help you get started.

  • Know what you’re talking about. Avoid in-depth discussions about topics and situations that you’re not yet educated about. Before you start conversations or new projects, ensure that you understand the ins and outs. Preparation is your friend in negotiation.
  • Keep an open mind to what the other person has to say. We’ve all had the experience of rushing in and insisting on what we want, only to discover later that it’s actually quite similar to what the other person wants–we just didn’t know that because we weren’t listening.
  • Find some common ground. With a little luck, you’ll only disagree on one or two minor points. Make a list of where you’re in concurrence and where you’re split. This will concretely illustrate how much negotiating will actually be necessary and how much you really do agree.
  • Talk about the issue at hand first. Avoid trying to discuss solutions until all parties are fully informed. You’ve got to be on the same page about the issue before you can possibly be on the same page for the solution.
  • Keep your emotions out of it.Consider the situation as business. Remain objective at all times. Keep your cool.
  • Don’t be a jerk. You’ll just lose credibility, and no one will be willing to listen to you. Consider the feelings and opinions of everyone involved as important as your own–if you discount an idea before you consider it, you could be doing yourself a huge disservice.
  • Be honest and use integrity. If you misunderstand an element of the challenge or their proposed solution and suddenly realize it, say so. Keep your word. Respect the other person. Don’t be afraid to be wrong–acknowledging your mistakes makes you someone that most people will respect.
  • Ask for the other person’s ideas. Solicit suggestions from them on how to resolve the situation. Listen carefully, and be willing to implement the workable parts of what you hear.
  • Remind yourself that you’re on same side. After all, you both want to resolve the issue. If you focus on finding common threads, you can find a solution that works for all involved.
  • State your ideas for a solution. Make your case, too; tell them why you believe it’s the way to go. For example, you could say something like, “Rather than make in-person follow-up visits once per week to new customers, I think it’s a better idea to do them monthly and use the off-weeks to follow up by phone.” To make your case in this example, you may follow up by saying, “This way, we’ve got time during the off-weeks to develop new customers. We’ll be widening our customer base while keeping contacts with customers we already have.”
  • Show flexibility. You’re two separate people with two separate sets of ideas and perspectives about the issue at hand. Avoid expecting to get your way 100% of the time.

Learning to use effective negotiation skills will help you in accomplishing any goals you have that involve others. Skillfully listen, remain non-emotional, discover points of agreement, honestly state your ideas, and show flexibility when interfacing with others. Get what you want by putting these excellent negotiation skills to work for you.

What are your best negotiation ideas? Share them with me in the comments section, below.


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