Languages & Cultural Blog

How to Be an Extraordinary Negotiator


Negotiation is part of our daily lives. From the vegetable vendor at the local market to the CEO of a fortune 500 company, everyone needs to negotiate to get what they want, or what they deserve.

Negotiation is an art and a skill. While it might come naturally to some, it is often an acquired trait that often requires years of practice.

Read on to find out how you can be an extraordinary negotiator.

Non-Negotiable Positions vs. Options

As a negotiator, you must not go to the table with non-negotiable positions. If you elect to draw the line, you must know your limits and the room you have to negotiate.

Successful negotiation methods can be judged by three criteria:

  1. Conclusion should include an agreement
  2. The process and result should be efficient
  3. The relationship between the negotiators should not be damaged and may improve

Read on for 6 tips on how to be an extraordinary negotiator.

 #1 Exchange Information

Negotiations are often approached cautiously with the parties involved being very guarded and wary of showing their cards. While one might think this is a smart approach, it can turn out to be counter-productive and have undesirable outcomes. It has a negative impact on the relationship and can inhibit trust. People tend to be matchers and follow the norm of responding and reacting to how they are treated. To be trusted, you need to trust.

Studies have shown that revealing some information, even when if it is something as trivial as your hobby or favourite cuisine, increases the chance of a positive outcome. You don’t have to put all of your cards on the table at the outset. Exhibiting a positive mind set is often enough to initiate a conducive meeting.

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#2 Prioritize

Typically when one negotiates, there is an awareness of key concerns that are often arranged in an order of importance. For example, if we’re trying to close a new client, we might say that the price is most important, and if we don’t agree, there’s no use continuing if not hitting a threshold would be a deal breaker.

To achieve better outcomes, rank and leave all the issues on the table and be transparent about it. That way both parties can compare their rankings and determine what the full set of options really are. This lets you figure out alternate arrangements, should the client not meet your expectations.

#3 Know what you want and when to stop

Northwestern University professor Adam Galinsky calls the walkaway price (or terms) ‘the reservation price’. The target price is what you hope for. The tradition is to go into negotiations with one or the other - or let the person you’re negotiating with start the bidding. This puts you at a huge disadvantage.

It’s critical to do the research ahead of time here. You need your research to be based on firm data, as not only will it provide more confidence and power to you, but it also reduces the chance that you’ll throw something absurd out there. By knowing your own range, it will help you make better decisions in the moment, and be clear about your limitations.

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#4 Be Open Minded 

The most successful negotiators tend to look at each aspect of the deal from various perspectives. When you are open minded, you are prepared for all sorts of outcomes. This enables you to switch tactics and think on your feet, offering the partner fewer chances to resist your demands.  

#5 Play hard, play fair

Getting ready for a tough negotiation includes identifying your targets and strategy; determining your opponent’s objectives, potential strategy, and motivations; and being clear about your alternatives and fall-back positions, also known as BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement). 

#6 Lose to Gain

In order to be a better negotiator, you must be willing to be the first one to give in a bit. Most people fear that this will set them up for failure — but it’s actually a great opportunity to create an additional layer of trust and to get something even better out of the deal in the future. This tactic will be successful only if you give in on something that is more significant to your negotiation counterpart, and is of little importance to you.

As with everything, you should only give in when you know you will gain something in return. “Every concession you make should involve a trade-off of some kind,” says Andreas von der Heydt, an executive coach and Amazon BuyVIP manager.

Negotiation takes place over a period of time and moves through a series of steps. Successful negotiation also opens the way for more negotiation. Influence and Persuasion also play a massive part in negotiation so be sure to give these skills an upgrade before you next step up to the negotiating table!

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