As a leader, negotiation is something that you do every day. Some negotiations are more formal than others. Whether you are talking to your team, a critical stakeholder, or a supplier, if you are having a discussion where you each bring something to the table and expecting something in return, you are negotiating.
What are the key things to keep in mind when you’re negotiating? Here are four practices of skilled negotiators.
1. The negotiation process should start before you start talking. Preparation is key. For a simple transaction preparation may just involve being clear on your objective. For “deals” or if you’re negotiating as a team, preparation should be more involved. For starters, you need to be able to list your objectives and their relative priority. This isn’t something that you should be deciding on the fly.
Skilled negotiators also go into talks knowing at what point they will walk away, or at what point coming to an agreement makes no sense. Skilled negotiators also review what their options are to coming to a deal with their counterpart, cost them out and know which is the best one. This can help to create leverage during the negotiation.
2. Learn what your counterpart’s interests are and be prepared to discuss your own. Often by focusing discussion on why rather than specific demands, creative solutions that wouldn’t be visible emerge. So if your counterpart makes a demand that makes no sense to you, feel free to ask why.
3. Focus on creating a win-win outcome. You are negotiating with someone with whom you either have a long term relationship or are hoping to build one. Trust is key. While a "slam dunk" may feel good in the moment, it will likely obliterate any trust that was there. Ideally, your negotiation should be part of a trust building process.
4. Don’t let an unreasonable demand weigh down the discussion. Often when one party makes an unreasonable demand or anchor, extensive discussion about that demand makes it impossible for your counterpart to back off it without losing face. When faced with an unreasonable demand, you should spend the most time arguing your position and then invite them to figure out how you can move forward together.
Negotiation is a skill worth cultivating for all professionals, but especially leaders since it is something that we do all of the time.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for ensuring a successful negotiation?
Leadership/Career Coach Kris Ishibashi works with leaders to bring together their skills, their authentic selves, and their intentions to inspire their organizations to superior performance. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation.