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Everything Is Negotiable

Portrait of group of young people sitting at a cafe and discussing work. Young men and women at coffee shop for startup meeting.

That Doesn’t Mean It’s Going To Be Easy – But With These Strategies In Mind, You’ll Be Better Prepared to Negotiate Like a Pro

By James Goodnow

Many people with big, outgoing personalities think they can muscle their way to a good deal without data. That rarely happens, though. Absent empirical data, an overly aggressive negotiating style may turn off the other side and push the parties toward an impasse.

The key to success is remembering that the negotiation begins before you ever speak to the other side. It’s all about the homework. You would be well advised to create a decision tree before the negotiation begins. Make assumptions and draw out alternative scenarios based on the information you compile. If you model alternative scenarios in advance, you can take much of the anxiety out of negotiating because you’ve already made your decisions in advance. Using this sort of “if-then” approach will give you the upper hand with even the most aggressive negotiators.

Here are 5 great  negotiation tips for newcomers

  • Before any serious negotiation, arm yourself with information. Do your homework and put in the time and research necessary to make you confident in the upcoming arbitration.
  • Build a rapport. We’re all humans – and it’s just human nature that if someone doesn’t like you, they’re not going to give you a good deal. Granted, some people may confuse kindness with weakness, but in my experience, relationship building generally leads to better outcomes.
  • Always know your next best alternative. Some people say ‘be ready to walk away,’ but I like to think of it instead as what happens next if I explore the other option.
  • Always go first if possible. Start with an anchoring point to set the parameters of the negotiation.
  • Always look to create value. Be ready to offer non-economic ways to sweeten the negotiation.

Understanding the lay of the land is critical. You should know going in to any negotiation who the actual decision makers really are – and make sure that someone with authority is available to actually cut the deal and finalize it (even if it’s by phone). There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours negotiating only to be met with a statement such as: “Let me check with my boss/supervisor to see if this is possible ….”

Although your words are important, it’s also critical that you listen carefully. Allowing people on the other side to articulate their position provides you with an understanding of what else you may be able to offer in order to bridge the gap between your  two positions.

Great negotiators look for common ground – and doing your homework in advance and carefully considering the other side’s perspective sets the stage for building relationships and mutually beneficial outcomes. Get to know the person on the other side of the table. Always remember that you’re dealing with an actual human being, and by building a connection, you can better the chances of a successful outcome.

Negotiation In Real Life: That Home You Have Your Eye On May Be Closer Than You Think

When my wife and I purchased our first home together, like a lot of young couples, we fell in love with homes that were priced well above what we wanted to spend. Instead of sending over a “take it or leave it offer” through our realtor, we instead sent over a cover letter outlining who we are and expressing our dreams for having a family in the house. We also included photos of us, and we asked to meet with the owners.

At the meeting, we talked not about the house for sale, but rather about our lives – including our goals and intentions. We learned that we had a lot in common with the sellers. We ended up submitting an offer – with no counter offer necessary – and both parties walked away feeling good about the negotiation.



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