If there’s no exchange, there is no negotiation. Great negotiators know that a willingness to compromise is often the only way to avoid a stalemate.
Negotiation is increasingly prevalent in our daily lives and is a necessary part of a wide range of professions. Given the nature of the globalized and fast-paced world in which we live, negotiating has become ubiquitous in every corporate role.
Due to the step-up in challenging objectives within organizations that wish to remain competitive, fast and sound decision-making, as well as conflict resolution through negotiation, have become more important than ever.
Tips for top negotiators
Do your homework
In order to ensure a successful agreement, the negotiator must possess in-depth knowledge of whatever is being negotiated. Moreover, they must study and understand the nature of the supplier (or client) they’re negotiating with, and have a firm grasp of key dates, financial targets and any negotiation restrictions.
The other person isn’t your enemy
Importantly, you should not see the person across the table as an adversary, but as another “player” who’s trying to solve a similar problem. A negotiation is not a competition where one wins and the other loses. Always seek a beneficial agreement where both parts secure a satisfactory degree of success, particularly if you want to have a healthy, ongoing relationship. Remember, negotiating is basically exchanging. If there’s no exchange, there is no negotiation. When one party makes a concession, the other will be expected to do so as well.
Flexibility is paramount in order to solve eventual stalemates, and it’s important that the professional in charge of negotiations knows for sure what they’re willing to give up. A refusal to shift can lead to a failure to reach an agreement, which won’t solve anything.
If you can demonstrate that you’re 100% confident and knowledgeable about all aspects of the negotiation, the other party will tend to be more careful while making observations, raising objections and even proposing financial targets. Misunderstandings and ambiguities can negatively affect their credibility in the negotiation.
Think about what you need to ask the other party, how to ask for this information, and how you’re going to apply this information to benefit your cause.
Four ways to gain an advantage in negotiations
Always take the initiative
Commonly, the one who controls negotiations from the beginning tends to control the outcome. If you let the other party begin the negotiation, you may end up relinquishing control without realizing you’re doing so.
Formalise negotiations in writing
Many negotiators make the mistake of discussing the terms and conditions of an agreement or contract without committing themselves to a written document. Make sure you want away with a formal written agreement, recording all terms in detail.
Keep it cool
Regardless of stress, agendas, egos, emotions or priorities, it’s important to remain calm and stay in control. Great negotiators know how to keep a level head and find solutions to sudden obstacles.
Stay on your turf
Use the “home team advantage” by scheduling strategic negotiations at your company. Being on your own turf can give you an advantage as people are generally more at ease on familiar ground.
At the end of a successful negotiation, all participants should have a feeling of accomplishment (or at least that they’ve managed to break even). This will only occur if the negotiation has taken place in a transactional manner, that is, with compromises and achievements.