Negotiations are stressful. Whether you want to ask for a raise at your job or are hoping to land a new contract, negotiating with confidence is key to getting what you want. I recently spoke with Ron Shapiro, author of the Power of Nice, to learn his strategies for negotiating deals in a way that leads to an outcome that satisfies all parties. Learn how to become more confident in your negotiation skills, below.
To get what you want in life, you need to help others get what they want. If you care about the long run then it is important to remember that you want to walk away with a good relationship with the other party because no relationship is over as soon as negotiations end. The person you are negotiating with should never feel defeated. After all, you’ll have to continue to work with them long after the contract is signed or the raise is agreed to, so you don’t want any feelings of lingering animosity.
If you can be systematic in your approach to negotiations, you don’t have to be aggressive. You can maintain control and do whatever you have to do to close the deal without being too assertive. Ron outlined the three Ps of his approach to nice negotiation:
Prepare. Use a preparation checklist. No matter how confident you are, you need to gather information and plan strategically to ensure that you don’t make any assumptions or leave out important details. Creating a preparation checklist is also a good collaborative tool that can bring your team together to decide on the best ways to gather information and lay out strategy. During this phase, always think about the interests of all parties so you can move past their immediate demands. Find out what their needs are beyond money and try to solve their problems.
Probe. Ask open-ended questions and always be a good listener. What do you need? What is most important about it? Avoid leading questions. Never let yourself feel inferior, but instead build confidence by being systematic in your approach. If you need an extra boost in confidence, you may want to work with a business advisor to help guide you through the process (they can also help vet your preparation checklist to ensure you are addressing the right questions).
Propose. Aim high with reason: You always want to leave room for negotiation. When approaching a tough negotiation, most people assume they will be able to wing it. This is the opposite of what you should do! The anxiety that comes with making hard asks often leads people to say things they later regret. Instead, Ron suggests following the three Ds: Draft, devil’s advocate, and deliver. First, write down everything you might want to say during your meeting. Then, give it to a trusted friend or advisor who will play devil’s advocate and find any potential flaws in your argument. Work on re-drafting until you come up with a script that both parties are comfortable with. Practice your script until you are completely comfortable, then deliver. This doesn’t mean that you must read your script word-for-word, but by being comfortable with making hard asks, you will have the confidence to approach the negotiation without fear.
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