Wouldn’t it be a different world if everybody thought the way you did? If everybody spontaneously conformed to your every wish, your every thought, your every feeling? Since life doesn’t work that way, you would do well to become skilled at the art of negotiation.
In negotiation, after all, neither party holds all the aces. Instead, negotiation proceeds (or should proceed) on a rather level playing field. Since both parties want to win, what is the best way to proceed? Here are five steps.
1. Establish the relationship
The wise negotiator establishes the relationship before proceeding further. Doing so allows you to get a feeling for the person with whom you are dealing, and vice versa. Though often ignored, "feeling" itself is an essential part of negotiation. So, always be open and sincere. Honesty, integrity and dignity are palpable qualities, and the foundation upon which constructive negotiations are built.
You are best positioned to negotiate when the other party respects you, not only as a businessperson, but as a human being. Trust, which is gained through that respect, is the key to successful negotiation.
2. Choose 'honey over vinegar.'
You’ll do better with honey than with vinegar -- but the honey must be genuine. Never underestimate the natural ability of other people to sense who you really are. Disingenuous, manipulative and secretive are feelings that simply cannot be hidden.
When negotiating, you too can sense if the other party's values are subpar or lack integrity altogether. No greater red flag exists in the entire arena of negotiation.
3. Focus on the win-win.
Win-wins are the only way to go. If you approach a negotiation thinking only of yourself, you are a terrible negotiator. Understanding what all parties need, and working for all concerned is vital. Keep in mind that seeing things in only black and white (win-lose) creates limited thinking; creativity is essential to good negotiation.
Ultimately, all people involved should find themselves on the same side of the fence. You want to be a player, not a pain. Keep your eye on the big picture and don’t get caught up in the small stuff. Stay out of the weeds.
4. Embody your inner adult.
Never forget that everyone has an inner adult and an inner child. It is remarkable to witness how even high-level business deals break down because someone at the table starts thinking childishly, instigating that behavior in others. When you see this happening, keep in mind that everyone goes out of balance.
Be the stable anchor, the respectful adult at the table. Helping people come back into balance is often best done by example. Take the high road, embodying your inner adult. Don’t argue; instead, understand.
5. Respect the rhythm of the relationship.
Always remember that there is a rhythm to everything. Don’t push it. Oftentimes, it is best to say nothing. Never forget that silent pauses can be a very powerful tool. Give yourself and others the time and space to reflect upon everything that has been said.
Don’t rush it. Try to sense the natural and appropriate rhythm of all the people at the table, including yourself.
By implementing these five points, you will be well on your way to mastering the art of negotiation. Negotiation is all about relationships. By cultivating and maintaining a good rapport with everyone at the table, every player can win. You’re not just creating an agreement, you are cultivating a long-term relationship as well as a reputation.
By mastering the subtle art of negotiation, you establish yourself as a top-rank business person, and that in itself may lead to even greater opportunities in the future.