10 Steps to Effective Negotiation


Being able to effectively negotiate with others in order to get what you want, is a great skill to have even outside of the business world. You do not have to be a CEO or big-time lawyer to benefit from having the ability to engage in discussions through which you gain something. There are plenty of resources out there that suggest that you must be a certain kind of person to be able to negotiate well; hard-headed, thick-skinned, and outspoken. However, anyone can learn how to get what they want out of others by keeping these 10 steps to effective negotiation in mind:1.) Know what your aiming for, and what you’ll settle for- You are negotiating for a reason; you want something better than what you are working with right now. To negotiate a deal with another party you must know exactly what you want from them. Determine your concrete goal in engaging in this negotiation, and what you want to obtain from the other side. You must also decide on the lowest possible point at which you will settle. Establishing these reservations will improve your bargaining power, and allow you to compare them against where you are right now.

2.) Know the other party’s objectives and needs- Asses the other sides motives in this negotiation as best as possible. Know what they want to get out of the negotiation as well as the bottom line they are willing to go to. Knowing where the other party is coming from, and gauging what may not be being said aloud, will allow you to leverage their strengths and weaknesses more effectively, and negotiate the best deal possible.

3.) Set a collaborative tone- Build a trustworthy relationship with the key decision makers, establishing a sense of confidence that you both will be working toward making the best deal possible for each party. Reach an agreement about the process you will use to come to an understanding, as well as being open and forward about your intentions in the negotiation.

4.) Plan a sequence of proposals and open with an aggressive first offer- Opening the negotiation at the highest you can reasonably ask for gives you room to negotiate from the very beginning. Setting the tone with an initial offer acts a reference point, or anchor, that your counterpart will subconsciously adhere to. Be well informed to make an educated first offer, though. If you fall within the bargaining zone  at the beginning, the other party could change their negotiation objective to get as much out of you as possible.

5.) Present simultaneous and equivalent offers- Propose several choices to your counterpart that highlight different elements of the deal. Remain flexible in negotiation by presenting a variety of offers to them that are of more or equal value to you. This will allow you to gauge how to mix up a new set of offers. Or, in conjunction with the other party, you can negotiate multiple creative solutions to meet as many possible interests for both parties.

6.) Make aggressive counter-offers- Don’t be swayed to lower your offer by what the other party throws out in the beginning. Always counter a first offer, or else you can risk the other party regretting what they have put out there. They will then be less likely to make concessions and it will be difficult for you to negotiate further. Be relentless with your own targets, and always remember the estimate of the other party’s reservation deal.

7.) Make proposals incrementally- Be strategic in the concessions you make during negotiation. Avoid going immediately to your lowest point, or even close to it until it is necessary. Make small incremental changes to your offer to see where the other party will settle. When you agree to these concessions, make sure the other group recognizes that you have made this move for them, so they will be more inclined to accept it or counter with a better offer as well.

8.) Don’t be a victim of consistency- Sometimes in negotiation, groups will develop a standard through which they will attempt to reach conclusions that go against what’s in your best interest. Avoid adhering to these seemingly harmless regulations, and know you are not held to these guidelines. Never agree to a statement or answer a leading question without considering why its important to the negotiation or where it could lead.

9.) Listen more than you speak but ask a lot of questions- In negotiation, asking questions is not only important in gathering intelligence, it is also a way of fending off questions from them to you; this will give you the upper hand in negotiating. Also, many times negotiators will try to fill silences with conversation that end up divulging information. Silence can be a powerful weapon to impose; use it to your advantage and be sure to listen more than you speak.

10.) Know when its time to end the discussion- When you have come to an agreement that benefits both sides, be prepared to get everything taken care of right then. Summarize agreements of the negotiation for both parties in an overview, and have all necessary paperwork on hand to sign at the meeting. This will ensure everything is taken care of between the two parties and you can close the deal right then.


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