If Having to Negotiate Makes You Tense, Consider These Negotiating Tips

This article is the first of nine that describe the lessons I’ve learned at the negotiating table. Some of the lessons resulted from successes and others are based on mistakes that I’ve made. In each case, however, there was a “lesson learned” that I want to share so that you can avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered along the way.

Over the years, most of the people I have worked with in North America felt uncomfortable with the process of negotiating. On the other hand, I would have to admit that, of all of the aspects of putting together a “deal”, it is the negotiating that I enjoy the most.

The first thing to remember is that while there are certain elements of each “deal” that are similar; no two deals are alike. Getting to the final agreement is a process with unlimited possibilities as there are no hard and fast rules or magic formulas that fit all deals in exactly the same way. It is not science; it’s an art. It is where creativity comes into play far more than during the analytical phase of making a “deal.”

While I have successfully put together many deals around the world,I have learned something new from each and every one of them. Yes, I have made my share of mistakes too, but I have learned from those mistakes and put them into “lessons learned”, chalked them up to experience, and to my knowledge never made the same mistake again.

Here are some of the key lessons that I have learned:

1. Everything in life is negotiable and whether you realize it or not, you are negotiating throughout each and every day.

2. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You won’t necessarily get what you deserve in life; you only get what you negotiate.

3. Don’t ever give something away without getting something in return.

4. Do not focus on the person; focus on the “deal.” Don’t personalize the negotiating process.

5. Do not react to the other party’s offer, rephrase or restate it as a response while providing time to think.

6. For a successful outcome, both parties to the negotiation must feel satisfied. Do not hammer the other party into submission as they will spend their time and their energy getting even sometime in the future to the detriment of both parties.

7. Do not agree to something too quickly or the other party probably will feel as though they “left something on the table.”

8. For both parties to win, you need to “make the pie bigger” before you cut it in half.

9. “Information is power.” The more you have, the better the outcome. Ask open ended questions and let the other party talk.

10. Don’t play into the stereotypical North American image at the negotiating table. In other words, don’t fall into the habit of “splitting the difference” just to make the issue go away.

11. When dealing with other cultures, don’t overestimate English comprehension based on English speaking skills. Also try and understand some of the other party’s cultural and linguistic nuances.

12. Remember that negotiating can be a lot of fun, and that most people enjoy the “game” once they get into it.

Stay tuned for more insights!