Negotiating is a crucial skill in a society where everyone is trying to climb to the top and maximize personal gains.
Many have the misconception that you need to be naturally bold and confident to successfully negotiate. While innate confidence certainly helps, you can always fake it until you make it. Besides, negotiating is more about one’s ability to stay calm, collected, and steady even under the most unprecedented situations.
If the idea of negotiating sends your anxiety through the roof, we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll be sharing five tips for first-timers who are negotiating in any situation.
TIP #1: Do Your Homework
Researching can be an absolutely tedious task, but your future self will thank you for it. Even the most experienced and confident negotiators always do their research beforehand because, as the saying goes, “to break the rules, you must first master them.”
When you’re clear on the context, what you’re negotiating for, and what’s at risk, you are better able to articulate your thoughts and form logical arguments. In the long run, it saves you time and any potential embarrassment. It may even be helpful to conduct a S.W.O.T (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of your situation.
TIP#2: Listen Attentively
When negotiating, it can be easy to get caught up in your own stance and unintentionally (or sometimes even intentionally) invalidate the other party’s arguments. However, doing so will only make you appear selfish, incompetent, and unprofessional. Ultimately, it will weaken your side.
With that said, learn to listen attentively. When the other party is speaking, look at them, listen to what they’re saying, and nod when appropriate. Jotting down notes on the important points they make may help you focus more. But remember to not be constantly writing while they’re talking as that will appear rude and disrespectful.
TIP#3: Ask Open-Ended Questions
Asking questions consisting of the elements of who, what, when, where, why, and how can help deepen the conversation during any negotiation.
Asking open-ended questions can help you obtain information that you may not have found during your research. Furthermore, it can help you better understand the other party and make them appear more humane.
If you followed the previous tip and listened attentively, insightful follow-up questions should come to you with no difficulty.
TIP#4: Mind Your Body Language (Especially Your Posture)
While this tip may seem like a no-brainer, when you’re under stressful circumstances, your posture and facial expressions could subconsciously change.
For instance, when the other party makes a comment that you may not agree with, refrain from furrowing your eyebrows, scrunching your nose, or glaring at them. In addition, if the meeting or conversation goes longer than expected, refrain from slouching in your chair and looking around to find a clock.
Once again, even if you’re not the most confident person in the room, you can always fake it by sitting straight and maintaining eye contact.
TIP#5: Don’t Be Afraid to Give a Hard “No”
As much as we hate to admit it, not all negotiations go smoothly and end with everyone being happy. It can be difficult when you’ve done all that you can do, but the other party still refuses to listen and cooperate.
When negotiating, always know your value. If you’re given an awful deal, learn to walk away and say no. Remember, even if the negotiation doesn’t end with you having everything you initially wanted, the best and most successful negotiations end with both parties feeling reassured and benefited.
Time to Put Things to the Test
Becoming a skilled negotiator takes time, effort, experience, and practice. That being said, if your first negotiation doesn’t go as planned, don’t be too hard on yourself. Take it as a learning experience and carry the things you learned to your next negotiation.