Whether you are purchasing a new car, asking for a raise (or being asked for a raise), or contracting some work to be done on your home, all of us will need to negotiate at some time. There are times where you will find yourself sitting across a table from someone looking for solutions. However, in order to effectively have those conversations, you have to know best practices for negotiation.
- Plan Ahead - You should enter into the negotiation knowing as much information as possible and being organized. What are the factors that you will be negotiating? What are you willing and not willing to give up? If you are going to buy a car, think about all of the different terms that will be on the table including price, delivery, options, interest rates, and purchase of your existing car. You should know how much the manufacturer paid for the car if possible.
- Look for the Win-Win - Negotiating can easily be seen as a game where one person wins and another person loses. Fortunately, it doesn't need to be that way. Really effective negotiations occur when both parties look for a win-win solution. This is only accomplished by sharing information and developing trust between the negotiators.
- Negotiate with the Decision Maker - It is a huge waste of time and energy to try to negotiate with someone who doesn't have the power to make a decision. It's like trying to argue with a TSA agent at the airport security line about Federal Regulations. It won't get you anywhere. If you go into a negotiation, you should start by asking the other party if they have the power to make a decision. If they don't, you should ask who can make the decision and then delay the meeting until that person can be present.
- Find Your Leverage, then Try Not to Use It - It's hard to get someone else to give up something or even talk about giving up something if they don't feel like they need to give it up. There is likely some advantage that you have over the other person. This should be used sparingly however. Rubbing the other party's face in leverage sets the tone for a win-lose. Instead, use it carefully. "I'd love to purchase a car from you guys, but if it just doesn't work out, I can go somewhere else.".
- Call a Timeout - If the negotiation is not going well or you feel yourself getting flustered, call a timeout. This could be a break or even an agreement to circle back and meet again. You might be surprised how valuable a little time might be to help you get refocused on the negotiation.
There are a lot of various tactics for negotiation. However, these five tips listed above are great basic steps to get you through the process.