Negotiate! Last week we explored some of the mistakes you must stop making so you don’t sabotage yourself from getting what you want in life. This week we will talk about some very important Key Steps that you can take to set yourself up for success while negotiating and… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’ This set of skills is something we need now more than ever. In fact, I’d say it’s never been more important to know how to successfully negotiate and navigate our way through the challenges we are facing. A reminder that it is important to read this with both a professional and personal lens because we negotiate as much in each and, when we practise in one area, it benefits the other by sharpening our skills. So, here’s some Key Steps you can start practising this week:
- Prepare, prepare, prepare! Negotiation is a perfect example of a situation where ignorance is NOT bliss. Think of all the strategising, planning and practising that is done before a professional rugby match. If the coach decided to skip this pre-work, what chance do you think the team would have of success? You don’t know, because you have no idea what to expect and neither do they. It’s a shot in the dark. Knowledge is power when negotiating… do your homework and prepare accordingly. Research shows that skilled negotiators spend four times more time preparing from the other party’s perspective than average negotiators do. You need to know the needs that your counterpart has as much as your own. Be able to anticipate why the other person may resist your suggestion and be prepared to counter with an alternative. If you’d like to learn more about mastering the art of collaborative negotiations and how to prepare like the most skilled negotiators do, you can email email@example.com for more info.
- Elicit the other party’s perspective. Great negotiators have great questioning techniques. Brush up on yours and use questions to find out what the other person’s concerns and needs might be. You might try asking:
2.1 What’s the most important thing you need from me on this?
2.2 What are your concerns about what I am suggesting / asking?When you hear the other person express their needs or concerns, use listening responses to make sure you heard correctly. Resist the urge to interrupt the other person even if you think their requests are unreasonable or you can’t meet their needs. Listening it not a sign of commitment but it a sign of respect and gives you the opportunity to really understand the other party and then…
- Propose several options. One way to merge interests is to invent several options, all equally acceptable to you, and ask the other side which they prefer. You want to know what is preferable not necessarily, what is acceptable. You can then take that option, work it some more and again present two or more variants. In this way, without anyone making a decision, you can improve the plan, find more joint gains and reach agreement. In other words, you give them what THEY WANT on YOUR TERMS!
- Consider timing. There are good times to negotiate and bad times. Bad times include situations where there is a high degree of anger on either side, preoccupation with something else, a high level of stress or tiredness on one side or the other. We must try our best to avoid negotiating at the ‘wrong’ time. Negotiating is a complex process involving many skills so you want to be at your best and be very well prepared. There might be times when you have no choice but to head into a meeting and face a challenging negotiation right after having had an argument or a bumper bashing. Be aware of the impact this can have and go to great lengths to manage your emotional state. Research shows that there is a significant carryover of emotion from one episode, such as a car accident, to an unrelated situation. We might think we can separate the two events but, in reality, unless you are very practised and managing your emotional state, you will be negatively impacted.
- Spot closing opportunities. The closing stage of any negotiation is vital to the overall success of the final deal. There will come a time when both parties sense an outcome is possible and you need to be careful not to miss closing opportunities but also not to be too eager to close or the other party might be tempted to hold out for late concessions. A simple question about a minor detail of the deal or agreement, “Does that include delivery or legal costs or VAT?” can be a perfect opportunity to close or trial-close. Try answering, “If you agree to the proposal now, then we will include delivery or legal costs or VAT.” Trial closing can be the best way to draw out any hidden objections and bring negotiations to a head.
Be aware of the signals you are sending to the other party. Body language can say as much, or more, about what you are thinking than speech. If it is a transactional negotiation and you have made your final offer, look as if it is your final offer. Simply gathering up your papers can do this and silence can be a powerful tool in convincing them you mean what you say. Take these Key Steps and you can…
“be the difference that makes the difference”
About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides
Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s the Oscar of the speaking business.
Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’