Businesses are experts at directing negotiations towards a favorable outcome. An employee who gets injured at work in Draper may be quite happy to receive a settlement offer from the local company – until their personal injury attorney reveals that it’s some way off what would be a fair amount of compensation. Even if you aren’t involved in litigation or business dealings, these lessons from the tactics of experienced business negotiators will help you achieve the desired results in various interactions.
See from the other side
No business enters a negotiation unprepared. Entire teams are given the responsibility of covering a proposal from every possible angle so that well-informed and productive discussions can take place. A significant chunk of preparation involves understanding the other side’s motives and likely demands; for as The Art of War has told us for centuries, “if you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”
If you’re negotiating a job offer, for instance, personal goals are probably quite evident. Perhaps you feel that your paycheck isn’t on the same level as the amount of time and energy you devote to your work; or you may feel that career growth opportunities are limited when you’re being given mundane tasks. Understand the employer’s perspective – businesses look to cut costs, and further expenses must be justified. You could thus prepare your performance metrics over the last few quarters, align them with business results, and cite this as evidence that you’ve made a significant contribution – and may be ready for an increase in compensation or responsibility.
Define your strategy
Preparation doesn’t just help you make a case at the bargaining table; it can help you formulate a strategy and get the timing right. Anticipation works both ways; the other party will never present their best offer first. Knowing what people want gives you a better grasp of how far they may be willing to back down. Similarly, any individual must be thoroughly aware of the value they present, and how much compromise they should consider before walking away.
Successful strategy is framed by the common objectives and existing relationships of both parties. If you sit down to discuss matters with someone who is a problem solver, mirroring their approach and working out a long-term compromise can yield satisfactory results. However, dealing with an aggressive salesman-type of mindset will require you to be firm and never concede on important points.
Businesses thrive on creating a sense of urgency. They use this when compelling consumers to act on impulse purchases, and bring a similar tactic to negotiations. At the same time, smart businesses know the value of patience and won’t allow their decisions to be rushed. This ability to be patient will not only help you properly evaluate the merits of an offer, but can also lower expectations on the other side, giving them a feeling that they may be pushing too far and ultimately leading to concessions.
Maintain your flexibility by being deliberately thoughtful and asking questions. Make the other party justify and explain the rationale behind their offers and demands, even if you know the likely answer through your preparations. Don’t hesitate to ask for more time to consider a proposal – even if you had an ideal outcome in mind, you might be given unexpected opportunities in the discussion which could be worth a few compromises.
These business tactics are a staple of boardroom negotiations, but can be harnessed on the small scale and used to improve your outcomes in any personal discussion.