The ability to negotiate is an important part of being a manager. You might be negotiating a work contract, an employee’s wage increase or simply trying to get the holiday rota organised. Whatever it is you are trying to achieve, at some point you will need to be able to negotiate. In this article we offer some tips on how to make the most of the negotiation.
1) Establish your objectives – You need to think carefully about exactly what you want to get out of the negotiations. If part of what you want is to secure repeat business it is not in your interest to negotiate so hard that the other party feels cheated.
2) Prepare – If at all possible, try and find out something about the person or company you are negotiating with and if necessary use this information to your advantage.
3) Remember this isn’t war – It is quite easy to think of a negotiation as a stand-off between two warring factions but very often this is not the case. This kind of behaviour is often seen in lawyer’s offices or in the boardrooms of companies negotiating huge contracts but for the typical manager this is not the style of negotiating you want to adhere to.
4) Find a common ground – Negotiating is largely about working out an arrangement that both parties are comfortable with. It is important that at the end of the process both parties feel they have had a fair deal. It is nobody’s interest for one party to “win” a negotiation convincingly (unless, of course, you are a lawyer as noted above).
5) Take sufficient time – It is important that you take the necessary time to listen to and understand all of the arguments of the other party. It is also important that the other party has the time to digest what you have been saying; there should be stages to the negotiation. Managing your time through a negotiation is also important because if the other party senses that the process is time sensitive, they will use it to gain an upper-hand.
6) Get them to see things from your point of view – This is critical if you are going to get that agreement. The other party must understand the implications of the negotiation and what effect it will have on you and your team. Only then will it be possible to find that zone of agreement.
7) Don’t sell yourself short – In your fervent desire to be accommodating and find the best deal for both parties you mustn’t sell yourself short. You need to value what you are offering and you don’t want to feel resentful going forward.
8) Don’t promise something you can’t deliver on.
Negotiation is all about finding the best fit for both parties. Neither party should feel resentful of the end result or make promises that they can’t keep. Try to see it from both sides but at the same time don’t sell yourself short!
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