The ability to negotiate effectively is a key element in establishing successful and mutually-beneficial business deals. Without strong and strategic negotiation skills, whether it’s with potential business partners, vendors, customers, or even employees, you’re likely to come out of a meeting with a deal that only satisfies a fraction of what you wanted. While not everything in business can be done completely on your terms alone, insufficiencies can have rippling effects on your goals for business.
Despite the importance of negotiation in the business world, 40% of US employees are not confident in their negotiation skills, which is a feeling that is amplified in woman. A UC Davis study found that women are 2.5 times more apprehensive about negotiating than their male counterparts.
Preparation, planning, and strategizing ahead keeps you well equipped and agile during a meeting. Research into the other attendees allows you to better anticipate their requests and demands before they’re even presented, giving you a better understanding of how you can either accommodate or counter.
Listening is arguably the most crucial element of communication. It’s better to be eager to listen than eager to speak during a meeting because listening facilitates understanding and conveys engagement. Without a complete grasp of what others are presenting, you can’t adequately meet your end of a deal. To enhance listening ask questions, such as “why,” this will also convey engagement from your end will enabling you to access information that can be leveraged in your favor.
Beyond your words, pay special attention to the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and body language, as non-verbal elements account for 93% of communication.
Even in an incredible deal, it’s rare that every party in a negotiation walks away with an agreement that represents their entire wish list. Ahead of every meeting throughout a negotiation process prioritize everything you want from a deal. In doing so, you will determine a definitive list of ‘deal-breakers’ and more optional wants, which can enhance your ability to negotiate and help you quickly identify when a deal is going in the wrong direction.
Taking notes can make all the difference. Studies show that people only remember about 50% of what others say during a negotiation. If you forget information that can influence decisions, you’ll likely come away with the wrong impression of how a deal is going and end up ill-prepared for your follow up meeting. To this end, it’s helpful to have an email sent at the end of a negotiation to recap what was discussed.
Confidence is compelling. When you exude confidence, you establish a sense of authority which encourages others to trust you. You can coax confidence out by putting together a deal you believe in and are excited about, but also by being sure of what you expect from your counterparts.
One way to show your confidence in you and your business is to make the first offer. It can be intimidating, but it keeps you in control since all further negotiations are typically centered around the initial offer. On the other hand, it’s important that negotiators are cautious of their attitude and intentions, to not become aggressive. Research shows that 57% of people are oblivious to how assertive they actually appear during a negotiation.
If a negotiation isn’t working out the way you hoped and shows no signs of progress, it’s okay to decide to walk-away from a deal. There is value in assessing your worth and choosing to only engage in business that supports your agenda and objectives.
Walking away sets a standard for how you expect your organization to interact with others in the future and how you’ll allow them to interact with you. Having a plan in place before you walk away from a negotiation can help the process go smoothly so you can easily move on.