5 Simple Things That Will Make You A Better Negotiator

How to Become an Expert at Getting the Outcomes You Want During Negotiations

We’re constantly negotiating with people in our daily interactions. Not all negotiations are the same — some may be important, while others may seem trivial.

In its most simplest form, a negotiation is a discussion, set up or intended to produce a settlement or agreement.

By becoming a better negotiator, we can:

  • Get things done faster.
  • Help others improve what they do and how they do it.
  • Create more collaboration with others.
  • Take on new or better projects.
  • Facilitate processes to help others achieve what they want.

Learning to be a better negotiator will also boost our self-confidence, which means we’ll be more willing to challenge ourselves to do new things or ask for what we want.

Things that will help you negotiate better

When I first started my working career, while I was in my early twenties, I was offered a role as a production planner with a salary package and advised that depending on my performance, my salary would be reviewed after my three-month probationary period.

During my initial three months, I wasn’t given any feedback as to how I was performing by my manager but I knew I had managed to fit in well in the business. As I had started to take on more responsibilities, I knew that if I performed well in my role, I would become a valuable member of the team.

When three months had passed, my manager didn’t initiate a performance review meeting. As I thought he was very busy, I waited a couple more weeks but even then, my manager did not initiate a meeting with me. I decided to approach him and reminded him of what the agreement was when I had been offered the role.

He agreed to have a meeting with me and during the meeting, I outlined everything I had learned to date about my role, the business and all the things I had done. I referenced some metrics we had agreed on that I was expected to meet and he agreed that I had done everything he could have asked of me within the first three months.

He offered me some valuable feedback with regard to things I needed to focus on and how that would assist me in my role, and he happily agreed to offer me a pay rise. That was the first time, in my professional career, that I negotiated for something I wanted.

While I was okay during the negotiations, there were things I could have done a lot better.

5 Ways to Become a Better Negotiator

  1. Be clear on your end result. Every negotiation must have an objective or purpose. If we’re not clear on the result we want, we’ll find it difficult to know if we’re actually on track or not. It’ll also be difficult to course-correct if we don’t know where we want to get to.
  2. Visualize how you want the negotiation to go. Taking some time to play out in our minds exactly how we’d like the negotiation to go is very powerful. This can help us respond to questions or objections quicker and easier. We can also practice what we want to say and imagine the reaction of those involved in the negotiation.
  3. Aim for win-win outcomes. Negotiations tend to go off the rails when one person or one side wants everything to go their way without being willing to listen to the other person’s point of view. This is where being flexible while still focused on the end result is valuable. At the end of every negotiation, all parties should leave believing they have gained something.
  4. Focus on facts. Sometimes negotiations are based on opinions and different perspectives, however the most important ones, rely heavily on data and facts. When data and facts are presented, it takes away any ambiguity or misunderstanding. The better the facts are presented, the easier it will be to reach an outcome.
  5. Remain calm at all times. Not all negotiations will go perfectly and sometimes, discussions may get heated. Those who lose their composure the easiest quite often don’t achieve the outcomes they want during a negotiation because their behaviour demonstrates how they cope under pressure. It’s okay to ask to have a break when things get tense, which will allow everyone to gather their thoughts, and return will clearer intentions.

Becoming a better negotiator is a valuable skill to have as it’ll be easier to achieve our objectives by leveraging the help and effort of others. We’ll also be able to help others get to where they want to be especially if we’re focused on doing what’s best for all involved.

Action Step: During your next negotiation, no matter how small or big it is, start of by becoming really clear on what your outcome is. With that clarity, it’ll be a lot easier to implement the other ideas suggested above.

Question: What is another thing we can do to become a better negotiator?

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