How to Negotiate

Reviewed May 17, 2015

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Summary

  • Practice your pitch with a friend.
  • Know your facts and arguments.
  • Know your bottom line.
  • Don’t give away your game plan. 

We negotiate all the time, whether we’re making deals with our boss, our kids, our neighbor or our spouse. We’re often negotiating items of critical importance—jobs, money, vacations and relationships. Yet how many of us take the time to learn how to do it competently? Negotiating may be an art, but it’s also a skill that can be learned.

Get over the fear

Many people dislike and avoid negotiating, which can end up costing them money over a lifetime. Force yourself to do it anyway. Knowledge, preparation and practice can help dispel some of the fear, and in time, you’ll get better at it. Practice your pitch with a friend or colleague; have them role play with you.

Do your homework

Know your facts and arguments. Knowledge of the market is critical to any purchasing deal. If you’re negotiating a raise or a job, know what attributes you bring to the company—specifically, how you meet your employer’s needs. Anticipate the questions and arguments of the other player.

Know what you want and what you need out of the deal—and know the difference between the 2. It’s equally important to figure out what the person on the other side of the table wants and needs. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.

Take your time

Time is a big issue and an important advantage to have on your side. The “motivated seller” is one who needs to close the deal quickly. If you know someone is under a deadline, that’s a card to play to your advantage. Act as if you have all the time and options in the world.

Work your options

Subtly, let the other person know you have other options (another house, another job). But if you do this, make sure you really do have other options. There will always be another house or car, but is there another viable job out there for you? Don’t ever threaten to walk away unless you mean it.

Know your strength

Answer the question honestly: Who has more power in this situation? If you’re shopping for a car that you want but don’t need, you have the power to walk away. If you’re negotiating a benefits package at a job you don’t want to lose, the boss has the upper hand. Knowing where you stand gives you the strength to walk away or the wisdom to compromise. 

Compromise

Most negotiations require some compromise. That’s why it’s important to know your bottom line and what you’re willing to let go. Try to avoid getting backed into either/or positions: “Either you meet my price, or I’m out of here.” Don’t set deadlines or goals that don’t leave any wiggle room.

Be creative

If you’re negotiating with a contractor, you could angle for a lower price by offering to buy supplies yourself, such as the paint. Compromise requires the courage and creativity to put ideas on the table.

Hold your cards close

Don’t be a fake or a liar, either of which can ruin future relationships, but don’t give away your game plan either. After all, it’s unwise to go into a negotiation stating how high or low you’re willing to go. When negotiating a compensation package, for example, you may want both a 15 percent raise and an increase in vacation days. However, if the vacation days mean more to you than the amount of the salary increase, there’s no need to let your boss know that. That way, you can start out trying to get both, then compromise only if you have to on the raise.

This kind of “poker playing” applies to business deals; personal-relationship negotiations require honest, up-front communication.

Don’t be afraid to initiate a negotiation

Sometimes all you have to do is ask: Is that charge negotiable? If they say no, be prepared to toss out some creative ideas. For example, if you’re hiring someone to build a website for you, you could ask for a lower fee in exchange for letters of recommendation.

Go for the win-win

Throughout the process, it’s important to show that you have an understanding of the other person’s concerns. Verbally recognize that the other person has a need to make a fair profit or have a schedule met, and that you’re willing to work toward a situation where everyone is satisfied. Successful negotiators know to go for win-win situations.

People who seek to dominate without wisdom or fairness tend to create enemies. Such “conquerors” may win the battle but lose the war. This is especially true when you’re negotiating in an arena where good ongoing relationships are required.

Diffuse emotion

Keep focused on the issues, not the personalities at the table. If you’re negotiating with someone who is angry, recognize her anger but then move toward finding a solution. Avoid becoming too emotional or insulting. If the situation gets out of hand, call things off and try again another day.

Have a back-up plan

Know what your back-up plan is if the negotiation doesn’t come out the way you want. Are you ready to walk away from the deal? Are you willing to live with the compromises? What are your options? If negotiations stall, agree to meet another day; maybe situations will change or new ideas will come to both of you.

By Amy Fries
Source: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, Bruce Patton and William Urey. Penguin Group, 1991; “How to Negotiate Anything” by Michael Kaplan, Money Magazine, May 2005; Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov; “Smart Buyers Know How to Negotiate” by Robert J. Bruss, The Los Angeles Times, 2005.

Summary

  • Practice your pitch with a friend.
  • Know your facts and arguments.
  • Know your bottom line.
  • Don’t give away your game plan. 

We negotiate all the time, whether we’re making deals with our boss, our kids, our neighbor or our spouse. We’re often negotiating items of critical importance—jobs, money, vacations and relationships. Yet how many of us take the time to learn how to do it competently? Negotiating may be an art, but it’s also a skill that can be learned.

Get over the fear

Many people dislike and avoid negotiating, which can end up costing them money over a lifetime. Force yourself to do it anyway. Knowledge, preparation and practice can help dispel some of the fear, and in time, you’ll get better at it. Practice your pitch with a friend or colleague; have them role play with you.

Do your homework

Know your facts and arguments. Knowledge of the market is critical to any purchasing deal. If you’re negotiating a raise or a job, know what attributes you bring to the company—specifically, how you meet your employer’s needs. Anticipate the questions and arguments of the other player.

Know what you want and what you need out of the deal—and know the difference between the 2. It’s equally important to figure out what the person on the other side of the table wants and needs. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.

Take your time

Time is a big issue and an important advantage to have on your side. The “motivated seller” is one who needs to close the deal quickly. If you know someone is under a deadline, that’s a card to play to your advantage. Act as if you have all the time and options in the world.

Work your options

Subtly, let the other person know you have other options (another house, another job). But if you do this, make sure you really do have other options. There will always be another house or car, but is there another viable job out there for you? Don’t ever threaten to walk away unless you mean it.

Know your strength

Answer the question honestly: Who has more power in this situation? If you’re shopping for a car that you want but don’t need, you have the power to walk away. If you’re negotiating a benefits package at a job you don’t want to lose, the boss has the upper hand. Knowing where you stand gives you the strength to walk away or the wisdom to compromise. 

Compromise

Most negotiations require some compromise. That’s why it’s important to know your bottom line and what you’re willing to let go. Try to avoid getting backed into either/or positions: “Either you meet my price, or I’m out of here.” Don’t set deadlines or goals that don’t leave any wiggle room.

Be creative

If you’re negotiating with a contractor, you could angle for a lower price by offering to buy supplies yourself, such as the paint. Compromise requires the courage and creativity to put ideas on the table.

Hold your cards close

Don’t be a fake or a liar, either of which can ruin future relationships, but don’t give away your game plan either. After all, it’s unwise to go into a negotiation stating how high or low you’re willing to go. When negotiating a compensation package, for example, you may want both a 15 percent raise and an increase in vacation days. However, if the vacation days mean more to you than the amount of the salary increase, there’s no need to let your boss know that. That way, you can start out trying to get both, then compromise only if you have to on the raise.

This kind of “poker playing” applies to business deals; personal-relationship negotiations require honest, up-front communication.

Don’t be afraid to initiate a negotiation

Sometimes all you have to do is ask: Is that charge negotiable? If they say no, be prepared to toss out some creative ideas. For example, if you’re hiring someone to build a website for you, you could ask for a lower fee in exchange for letters of recommendation.

Go for the win-win

Throughout the process, it’s important to show that you have an understanding of the other person’s concerns. Verbally recognize that the other person has a need to make a fair profit or have a schedule met, and that you’re willing to work toward a situation where everyone is satisfied. Successful negotiators know to go for win-win situations.

People who seek to dominate without wisdom or fairness tend to create enemies. Such “conquerors” may win the battle but lose the war. This is especially true when you’re negotiating in an arena where good ongoing relationships are required.

Diffuse emotion

Keep focused on the issues, not the personalities at the table. If you’re negotiating with someone who is angry, recognize her anger but then move toward finding a solution. Avoid becoming too emotional or insulting. If the situation gets out of hand, call things off and try again another day.

Have a back-up plan

Know what your back-up plan is if the negotiation doesn’t come out the way you want. Are you ready to walk away from the deal? Are you willing to live with the compromises? What are your options? If negotiations stall, agree to meet another day; maybe situations will change or new ideas will come to both of you.

By Amy Fries
Source: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, Bruce Patton and William Urey. Penguin Group, 1991; “How to Negotiate Anything” by Michael Kaplan, Money Magazine, May 2005; Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov; “Smart Buyers Know How to Negotiate” by Robert J. Bruss, The Los Angeles Times, 2005.

Summary

  • Practice your pitch with a friend.
  • Know your facts and arguments.
  • Know your bottom line.
  • Don’t give away your game plan. 

We negotiate all the time, whether we’re making deals with our boss, our kids, our neighbor or our spouse. We’re often negotiating items of critical importance—jobs, money, vacations and relationships. Yet how many of us take the time to learn how to do it competently? Negotiating may be an art, but it’s also a skill that can be learned.

Get over the fear

Many people dislike and avoid negotiating, which can end up costing them money over a lifetime. Force yourself to do it anyway. Knowledge, preparation and practice can help dispel some of the fear, and in time, you’ll get better at it. Practice your pitch with a friend or colleague; have them role play with you.

Do your homework

Know your facts and arguments. Knowledge of the market is critical to any purchasing deal. If you’re negotiating a raise or a job, know what attributes you bring to the company—specifically, how you meet your employer’s needs. Anticipate the questions and arguments of the other player.

Know what you want and what you need out of the deal—and know the difference between the 2. It’s equally important to figure out what the person on the other side of the table wants and needs. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.

Take your time

Time is a big issue and an important advantage to have on your side. The “motivated seller” is one who needs to close the deal quickly. If you know someone is under a deadline, that’s a card to play to your advantage. Act as if you have all the time and options in the world.

Work your options

Subtly, let the other person know you have other options (another house, another job). But if you do this, make sure you really do have other options. There will always be another house or car, but is there another viable job out there for you? Don’t ever threaten to walk away unless you mean it.

Know your strength

Answer the question honestly: Who has more power in this situation? If you’re shopping for a car that you want but don’t need, you have the power to walk away. If you’re negotiating a benefits package at a job you don’t want to lose, the boss has the upper hand. Knowing where you stand gives you the strength to walk away or the wisdom to compromise. 

Compromise

Most negotiations require some compromise. That’s why it’s important to know your bottom line and what you’re willing to let go. Try to avoid getting backed into either/or positions: “Either you meet my price, or I’m out of here.” Don’t set deadlines or goals that don’t leave any wiggle room.

Be creative

If you’re negotiating with a contractor, you could angle for a lower price by offering to buy supplies yourself, such as the paint. Compromise requires the courage and creativity to put ideas on the table.

Hold your cards close

Don’t be a fake or a liar, either of which can ruin future relationships, but don’t give away your game plan either. After all, it’s unwise to go into a negotiation stating how high or low you’re willing to go. When negotiating a compensation package, for example, you may want both a 15 percent raise and an increase in vacation days. However, if the vacation days mean more to you than the amount of the salary increase, there’s no need to let your boss know that. That way, you can start out trying to get both, then compromise only if you have to on the raise.

This kind of “poker playing” applies to business deals; personal-relationship negotiations require honest, up-front communication.

Don’t be afraid to initiate a negotiation

Sometimes all you have to do is ask: Is that charge negotiable? If they say no, be prepared to toss out some creative ideas. For example, if you’re hiring someone to build a website for you, you could ask for a lower fee in exchange for letters of recommendation.

Go for the win-win

Throughout the process, it’s important to show that you have an understanding of the other person’s concerns. Verbally recognize that the other person has a need to make a fair profit or have a schedule met, and that you’re willing to work toward a situation where everyone is satisfied. Successful negotiators know to go for win-win situations.

People who seek to dominate without wisdom or fairness tend to create enemies. Such “conquerors” may win the battle but lose the war. This is especially true when you’re negotiating in an arena where good ongoing relationships are required.

Diffuse emotion

Keep focused on the issues, not the personalities at the table. If you’re negotiating with someone who is angry, recognize her anger but then move toward finding a solution. Avoid becoming too emotional or insulting. If the situation gets out of hand, call things off and try again another day.

Have a back-up plan

Know what your back-up plan is if the negotiation doesn’t come out the way you want. Are you ready to walk away from the deal? Are you willing to live with the compromises? What are your options? If negotiations stall, agree to meet another day; maybe situations will change or new ideas will come to both of you.

By Amy Fries
Source: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, Bruce Patton and William Urey. Penguin Group, 1991; “How to Negotiate Anything” by Michael Kaplan, Money Magazine, May 2005; Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov; “Smart Buyers Know How to Negotiate” by Robert J. Bruss, The Los Angeles Times, 2005.

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