The seven negotiating skills you need to know
In this article
- From asking for a raise to hanging out with friends, negotiations happen everyday
- Learning these seven effective strategies can help you master negotiations and feel more confident
- Small wins, big results: Practice your skills daily to excel in important discussions for years to come
Nail your negotiations: From job offers to doing the dishes, learn the art of effective communication. Set boundaries, listen well, use 'I' statements, stay cool, project confidence and embrace silence. Practice these tips to achieve the results you deserve.
We often find ourselves thrust into situations where negotiation is required – probably more than we realize. Whether they’re business-related or personal, many everyday things can be considered negotiations.
- Navigating a job offer
- Asking for a raise
- Closing a sale
- Picking a hangout spot with friends
- Choosing a family member to do the dishes
Life is one seemingly endless negotiation, and for many people, effective negotiation skills don’t come naturally. But don’t worry – you can practice and perfect them over time. Start with these seven strategies to put yourself on the right track.
1. Do your homework.
Your negotiation strategy should begin long before the meeting does. Preparation is the backbone of a successful negotiation, and the key is to be prepared for multiple scenarios before you even set foot in the room. Be sure to:
- Understand the other party's point of view and what they stand to gain or lose.
- Brainstorm possible positions they’ll take and how to respond.
- Strengthen your argument with statistics or other supporting information.
2. Set boundaries.
Naturally, you know what a good outcome looks like for you. What are you willing and able to accomplish, accommodate or accept? Write those things down so they’re clearly defined but remember they may not be black and white. While a person with sharp negotiating skills shoots for the best-case scenario, they can also recognize when it won’t happen and pivot from there.
3. Listen actively.
It’s normal to start thinking of what to say next while your counterpart is talking but try to resist that urge. Instead, listen carefully to everything they say, then allow yourself to be in the moment with your response. Depending on what they say, it may lead directly to one of your points, allowing you to transition into it organically. If not, it’s a chance for you to acknowledge their point and display your top-notch communication skills.
4. Use “I” statements.
If you can confidently express what you want and need, then you’ll be a force to be reckoned with during a negotiation. Don’t be afraid to use direct (but respectful) statements with phrases like “I need” or “I want.” The conversation is more likely to go your way because your asks and expectations will be clear, plus the person you’re speaking with will take note of your decisiveness and self-respect.
5. Keep your cool.
Tough negotiators create unexpected situations and difficult conversations. When this happens, always remember the “four Bs”:
- Be calm – No matter what strategy a person uses or what behavior they exhibit, it’s your job to stay in control of your emotions.
- Be prepared – This goes back to the “do your homework” point. The more you know, the less likely you’ll be surprised.
- Be focused – There’s nothing wrong with small talk or even touching on other important topics during a negotiation. Just remember to get back on track and meet all the objectives you came in with.
- Be blunt – Assertiveness is a must in any negotiation, but you’ll want to read the room when it comes to your delivery. If your fellow negotiator has a tough demeanor, consider turning it up a notch to show them you aren’t rattled. If they’re friendly and receptive to your points, dial it back as you see fit.
6. Project power.
The way you carry yourself is critical in negotiations, so be sure your body language displays confidence. Keep your head tilted slightly, with a natural smile and a gaze that meets the other person’s. The head tilt says, “I’m listening. I’m comfortable. I’m receptive.” Half the battle in presenting yourself well is ensuring your facial expressions, eye contact, posture and hand gestures are assertive, yet receptive. At the same time, try not to focus so much on your appearance that it interferes with your line of thinking or projects insecurity.
7. Embrace the silence.
Pausing is a great way to get what you want. Whether you’re silent before you answer a question or even in the middle of your sentences, it shows you’re putting genuine thought into what you’re about to say, rather than giving a rehearsed answer. It may also come with the bonus of making the other person anxious or uncomfortable, which can work in your favor.
Start small today, win big tomorrow
Most people associate “negotiation” with big events like salary and contract discussions, but we all negotiate every day. Even small things, like splitting up chores or deciding on a restaurant, require the same skills that bigger ones do. They also serve as great practice for those especially important negotiations. The only difference is we tend to put more pressure on ourselves for the big conversations, creating extra stress and anxiety.
Either way, it boils down to knowing the outcome you want to achieve and devising a rock-solid plan to accomplish that.
We’re here to support your personal and professional growth with money management assistance and financial services right at your fingertips. Keep these newfound negotiating skills in mind – for conversations big and small – and you’ll be closer to getting the results you deserve.
Subscribe to our blog
Fill out the form below to sign up for our blog.