Business people in general assume that good negotiators are aggressive and adversarial. According to them, if you want your partners to like you, you should agree with everything they say and don’t get involved in a negotiation. Believe it or not, that’s not the way to do it. Being able to negotiate correctly is one of the most important skills a business people can possess. Yet, how come there are still a lot of people out there who are unable to bargain? A negotiation is after all a conversation, a dialogue between 2 or more people willing to settle on a solution. The following 3 things are crucial in a negotiation and must never be overlooked.
1. Know your goals
Never get involved in a negotiation without knowing the ins and outs of your goals. You can’t just go to a business meeting and let others state their requirements. Speak up and express your own needs. People have the bad habit of blabbing about totally irrelevant things in a negotiation just to draw attention, make conversation, or find your weak spots. Remind them politely that a negotiation is not a friendly chat, it’s a business affair. Rather than talk nonsense, go home. Entering such an important meeting calls for several attributes you must possess:
Always have in mind that the ultimate goal is to settle on an agreement. It can work in your favor or it can satisfy both parties equally.
2. Know what you’re talking about
Prior to entering a negotiation, make sure that you fully understand the topic under discussion. You can’t negotiate if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Remember: knowledge is power! Hence, you have to carry out a thorough research before participating in the negotiation and pay attention to all the issues that your opponents might use to fool you. Never forget that power can bring whatever you’re looking for! Thorough, planned research is the key to success. It will enhance your self-esteem and allow you enough time to prove that you know the subject in question like the palm of your hand.
It’s equally important to know that body language has a vital role in negotiations. You might know what you’re talking about, but did it ever occur to you that your counterpart is analyzing every single move you make? What comes out of your mouth might be true, but if you’re nervous and anxious, that information becomes useless. Don’t let anyone see you’re shaking inside, be confident, have attitude, and make your words have meaning if you want to succeed.
3. Know your counterpart
It’s essential to gather as much information as you can about your opponent. Hence, you’ll be able to identify their motivations and goals, and prepare a strategy. Lack of research and knowledge will force you to accept the terms of your counterpart, and those terms might not comply with your needs. A skilled negotiator should have a team of people behind to help him come up with the best deal. Together with your team, find out as much information as possible about your opponent. Check former deals, clients, know his company, and analyze their public information, statements, and general vibe from the people.
You can’t win if you can’t think like your counterpart. Although it’s impossible to read his mind, you can at least guess his second move. For example, if your partners are known for their willingness to accept mutual agreements, that means they might agree to yours too. Don’t take anything for granted though, and keep your guard up. If you’re skilled and thorough, chances are they are too.
Negotiating a certain matter (whether it’s business-related or not) is all about finding a solution to a problem. Don’t argue as arguing is all about an attempt to prove the other party that they made a mistake. When two parties argue, the end result of a negotiation is never a result per se; it’s a conflict of interests. Why should you waste your time fighting when you can abide by the rules, have a fruitful conversation, settle some ground rules, and reach an agreement? At some point in life that negotiation might turn into a beautiful collaboration between two business partners.