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Prepare to Negotiate

Johnetta Ivey
By Johnetta Ivey

Negotiation:  definition from Oxford American Dictionary

  1. To try to reach an agreement or arrangement by discussion
  2. to get over or through (an obstacle or difficulty) successfully

Negotiation, like sales, tends to bring forth negative thoughts.  However, both are merely using the power of persuasion. Our brains tend to go into fight or flight mode.  Approaching the negotiation as war is probably not the best idea.  Consider it as more a willingness to understand the other person’s position.

My advice before you negotiate anything is be prepared.

  1. What is your why
  2. Prepare – practice how you will present your position
  3. Listen
  4. Be prepared to walk away

Let’s break down each point.

First, why are you even here?  What is your desired outcome? What do you really want to accomplish? If you do not know your why, you won’t be able to present your position with the enthusiasm needed to convince someone to agree with you.

The negotiation is important so Be Prepared! Are you meeting with a group or an individual? What has been the outcome of similar negotiations? Approach the negotiation as a conversation. Practice what you will say and how it will be said.  Avoid being confrontational and use we, rather than I, statements whenever possible.

As we’ve been taught before a job interview, practice, practice, practice. The same applies here.  Prepare to express your points.  Don’t use too many words.  When we are nervous, we tend to ramble. Practicing what you will say will limit any tendency to over explain. Prepare open-ended questions.  Nothing stops a negotiation quicker than a No to a question when you really needed to hear a Yes!

Listen to what the person has to say. We tend to think of how we will respond rather than really listen to what the person is saying.  If it is a point on which you disagree, try to see it from their point of view before raising an argument.  Be willing to admit you had not thought of it in quite that way. Does what you heard make you change any of your discussion points? If it does, should you continue or ask to table the negotiation for another day to allow you to gather additional information to support your position or yield to the position presented.

Finally, be prepared to walk away.  If the negotiation is not going the way you need, know your limit.  If it is important enough to you, it is also important enough to let it go.

Walking away does not mean this is the end.  It simply means the outcome you need or expected is too important to settle.

We negotiate each and every day, with our spouse to take out the trash, with our children to do chores, with our coworkers on what time the Zoom meeting will start.  Our mindset determines whether we enter into a negotiation as a battle or an opportunity to persuade, to achieve an outcome we want without making the other person feel they’ve lost a battle.

Whether you achieve your goal in the negotiation or not, learn from the experience.  It is probably not your first negotiation, nor will it be your last.

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