How many times were you in a situation where you could have negotiated your way – but chose to be silent instead because you didn’t feel up to it?
Negotiation is an essential skill, but for most of us, it is a very uncomfortable thing to do.
Then again, a successful negotiation is the difference between profits and losses, success and failure, promotion and well, no promotion. So let’s get to it – let’s master the art of negotiation and persuasion.
Here are some tips and tricks, that can get you started on your journey towards becoming a Master negotiator!
1. Research, stalk and research
Were you planning to walk into a negotiation without doing prior research and business stalking? Let me tell you that there is nothing more disastrous.
Do a lot of research, and a lot of business stalking. Find out what worked with the person in their previous negotiations and talks, and, more importantly, find out what didn’t.
Find out a little bit (or a lot) about their personality from their colleagues, and friends, if possible.
Look at the most recent deals they closed and micro-inspect every aspect, so as to draw some helpful insights.
Examining their past business talks and their personality, in general, will give you a sense of:
- Their negotiation style.
- Their usual game plan and strategies.
- Their sweet spots and not-so-sweet spots.
2. Give in to their demands, but, draw a line
Remember, we don’t compromise on our values and rules in negotiations, no matter how powerful the other party is. So, before walking in, understand what you can be flexible about and what you can’t be.
This way you are not caught by surprise in the heat of the talks, and you have your answers ready. This is a tip I picked up from one of my mentors – whenever I walk into meetings at Hiver, I already have a written list of things I can compromise on, and things that I can’t. This way I walk in with a mental clarity.
Also, knowing which elements you can compromise, and which ones you can’t, will help you set the tone of the meeting, and set the expectations as clear as a crystal for the opposite party.
3. Don’t give them a heads up
If you let people know that you are gonna ‘negotiate’ with them, they will not come in with an open mind, really.
For example, if you call your colleague saying you want to negotiate with him about work delegation, he will walk into the meeting room with a battle armour. He will be on his guard already, and will leave little scope for you to drive your point.
Most of us enter negotiations with an innate desire to not lose, a heads up will make the other person less receptive to what you have to say.
Do this: Don’t warn them. Use the element of surprise to your advantage. Don’t give them the time to warm up.
4. Learn to handle awkward pauses
Looks like a simple problem? It would be, if not for how much damage it can cause at times.
We are all so uncomfortable with awkward silence that we just about will say anything to break it.
What happens is – our urge to break the awkward pause will lead us to ‘speaking before thinking’ and also hints at a certain level of desperation to the other party.
For example, you decide to tell a joke to break the silence, and without thinking, you say something offensive, instead of funny. Imagine that!
Here is what I suggest – when there is an awkward pause, NEVER be the one to break it – let them, and in the meantime, just wear a polite smile and sit calmly. More often than not – you’ll score the shiny end of the deal.
5. A negotiation is no place for your ego or ‘feelings’
So you screwed up! Maybe you didn’t do enough research, or you didn’t handle the pressure well, whatever it is – it’s okay. You have to learn from it and move on.
You must walk into the meeting fully aware that you may fail, this awareness will not only help you handle a bad result better, but it will also give you a sense of confidence.
All I am saying is, don’t let either the failure or the success, get to your head.
6. Read micro-expressions
Most of us suppress our emotions during negotiations; emotions like agitation, disappointment, frustration and others, but, these do come out in the form of fleeting expressions, called the micro expressions.
The ability to read and look out for these micro expressions can be beneficial because it can help you get a sense of where the conversation is going, and if the other person is in sync with you.
For example, if you notice that the other person is disappointed, you can quickly do some damage control by offering something new, and better.
7. Use your networks and networks of networks
It is important to break the ice even before you break the ice. Let me explain, if you have a mutual friend or a friend of a friend, use that to your advantage and have a small informal meet with them, even before the actual meeting. This way, both the parties are warmer towards each other during the actual negotiation.
There will be less friction, and they will be more open to listening to what you have to say.
If you don’t have a mutual contact, then here are some other ways you can break the ice:
- Send them a congratulatory mail on their recent win.
- Send them a mail asking for their place and time preference or telling them how much you are excited about the meeting. Do everything you can to make them feel warm and welcomed. For example, if you are about to talk to an executive who recently released his first book, go read the book and tell them how much you love their writing.
Before I conclude my post, here are some other general pointers, I would like you to keep in mind.
- Always be authentic as a person. Fake smiles and superficial talk is easily detectable.
- Taking risks is welcome, but not a uncalculated risk.
- Oh, and if you don’t get a good enough deal – walk away. No-deal is better than a terrible deal.