Anyone who wants to have a leadership position in any type of company, organization, class, or club must have at least some skills in negotiation. While you can and should get formal training on negotiation skills, there are some things you can do on your own to improve the way you negotiate in various environments. Here’s how to train yourself in negotiation.
When entering a negotiation, the party that is more prepared is usually the one that realizes the best outcome. This is because they aren’t reactive to what goes on in the negotiations. They have a plan from the start and they stick to it. Before the negotiation ever begins, they ask themselves questions such as:
- What am I hoping to get out of this process?
- What am I willing to compromise?
- What am I not willing to compromise?
- Are my requests reasonable?
- Do I have a solid argument?
- What is the best case scenario?
- What is the worst case scenario?
- How can I expect the other party to respond?
Knowing the answers to these questions prior to entering a negotiation, you won’t be taken by surprise with almost anything that occurs throughout the process. You’ll know exactly what your bottom line is and when to walk away, which can often be the hardest part of a negotiation. When you have a plan, you can also do a better job at keeping your emotions out of the negotiations, something that can often get in the way of a successful outcome.
Set Your Goals
Setting your goals before a negotiation is critical and should very much be a part of your preparation. Some people go into a negotiation without a clear picture of what it is they are asking for. This is a recipe for disaster because if you don’t know what you want, how can you expect to get it? Write your goals down in the most succinct way possible and practice asking for what you need to achieve them.
Once you have your goals set for the negotiation, start building your case that supports your requests. Why do you need what you need? What will getting what you need do for you? What will getting what you need do for the company or organization? What resources do you already have to help you get what you need? What additional resources will be required to get what you need? Make sure you address every point possible in your argument and think about the rebuttals your opponent is going to have so that you can have a response ready.
Have a Plan B
Fair warning: you might not get everything you want, even if you have excellent negotiation skills and have been trained in a formal program. This is just the nature of negotiations. Of course, the best outcome for you is to get everything you ask for, but that’s a long shot. You might also get nothing of what you want, which is the worst case scenario. However, if you have a plan B, you are more likely to reach at least some of your goals.
A Plan B is an alternative that isn’t exactly what you want, but it isn’t a loss either. It’s something you are satisfied with and are willing to offer it as an option if the answer to your first request is “no.” Always have a backup plan so you don’t walk away empty handed.
Learning how to negotiate better is just like any other skill: you must practice, practice, practice. Start with these tips and you’ll be on your way to improved negotiations.