BUSINESS STRATEGY & GROWTH • November 2, 2016
1 minute Read
The ability to compromise and negotiate with others is huge in the business world, since it tends to be needed regularly at every organizational level. You’re probably using such skills already, in ways you never thought of as negotiation — task delegation, pricing, strategic planning, employee reviews, etc.
The biggest roadblock in business negotiations is a lack of trust in other people, notes searcher and professor Karen Walch in Forbes. And that’s true when working with anyone, from clients to investors to suppliers.
“Forty percent of people tend to believe they are cooperative and trusting, yet when asked about the counterpart, people tend to believe the other party is just looking to win,” she says. “It’s this type of mentality that causes negotiators to take a defensive strategy, which often leaves a lot of value on the table.”
Consider these tips for improving your future business negotiations:
1. Forget about titles and who’s on “opposing” sides.
2. Make a great first impression. An MIT study indicates the first 5 minutes of a negotiation effectively predict the outcome. Study authors recommend you project likeability and vocally mirror the emotional state of the speaker, since he or she will be sizing you up and drawing conclusions about your sincerity.
3. Focus on being genuine, demonstrating transparency while brainstorming a solution that might work for all.
4. As a general rule, start by asking for more than you’ll be satisfied with. That presents a psychological anchor against which further negotiations will be compared.
5. Look ahead to future relationships, understanding the benefits of making everyone (not just yourself) happy in your current deal. The fallout when one party comes out a clear winner can foster uncomfortable and/or poisonous working relationships.
6. Be the first to share information as a way of encouraging others to do the same.
7. Demonstrate trust in the other people involved, since mistrust breeds mistrust. Bluffing is not a good idea.
8. Lose the machismo, since it impresses no one.
9. Think of negotiation as an ongoing process in many locales and environments, not just the act of sitting around a bargaining table.
10. Look at the big picture, then consider how different variables in any agreement might compensate for each other. For example, if you lower prices for a supplier, they might offer better shipping terms in return.
11. Consider hiring a professional negotiator for high-stakes deals. The ability to negotiate is a very specific skill; don’t assume someone involved is good at it just because they’re a high-ranking executive, a lawyer, etc.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of emotion in business negotiations, advises Erik Sherman on Inc.com. “One of the biggest mistakes businesspeople make is to assume the process is a rational and logical one,” he writes. “But negotiation is almost always an emotional play. People make decisions because of ego, fear, greed, a need to please and so on.”
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