Negotiating is vital to success in pretty much all areas of your life. Whether you are trying to negotiate a business deal, bills, items on your credit report, your salary, or your next car, these strategies apply.
I have used these tips to negotiate everything. I joke and say I am allergic to full-price anything, but it is true! Often, you don’t know what type of deal you can get until you ask. It has worked on everyday bills, my credit score, and even job offers and salaries. Sharpening your negotiation skills will prove invaluable in your life. If, after reading this article, you still need help, hire me, but in the meantime, let’s jump in!
15 Tips for Better Negotiations
Although you may not win all of your negotiations, effective negotiators use these tips to increase their success rate. The negotiation process includes research, developing your confidence, and sitting at the negotiation table.
Effective negotiation starts before you even get to the meeting. There should be quite a bit of prep work done ahead of time. It is vital to have the data and a strategy ahead of time.
1. Educate Yourself
Research, research, research! If you are trying to negotiate a bill, research what other people in your area are currently paying. You can gauge if you are now getting a good deal or how much you may ask for off.
If you are trying to negotiate your salary or a new job offer, the same principle applies—research salaries in the area by using a site like Glassdoor or Salary.com. Employers can also use sites like these, although better research methods are available for organizations. You want to not only research the salary for your specific job title but also similar titles.
If you are trying to negotiate a car, research what your ideal vehicle is currently selling for. You can use sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Kelley Blue Book to get a good idea of a negotiation starting point. Years ago, I had a car salesman tell me that when people don’t come in knowledgeable, they take advantage of them. You do not want to be in this position! Always research!
2. Know Your Audience
Know whom you plan on talking to. Will it be one person or two or more parties? If possible, do some preliminary research on who they are or what’s important to them. If it’s not possible to research the person ahead of time (as is the case with calling into a call center), understand what metrics are essential to that person.
For instance, when I am negotiating a bill, I may ask for the cancel or retention department to talk to the right person. The customer service representative is not incentivized to keep me as a client, so they are not going to care if I leave or not. They are not the ones to talk to. Always know your audience and their priorities to encourage a win-win solution which we will cover later.
3. Know What You Are Trying to Accomplish
I have learned that generally, one of the biggest mistakes people make when going into a negotiation is not knowing what they are genuinely trying to accomplish. You always have to have a target. If not, how will you ever get there? What is the bare minimum you are willing to walk away with? If this is not defined, more research may be needed so this can be clearly defined.
When I sold my car a few years ago, I knew what number was ideal and what number I would be willing to settle for that still created a win-win. Don’t try to get over on people but also don’t sell yourself short. There has to be a happy medium; otherwise, one of the parties will feel slighted by the end.
4. Have a Plan B (or C) Ready
Try to think outside the box when it comes to what you are willing to take. For example, when I was negotiating a pay raise, I went into the meeting with other non-monetary options I was glad to accept. If they say no to the pay raise (maybe it wasn’t fiscally feasible), I had a plan B that would be hard to say no to. Instead of the pay raise, I was happy with a title change because I knew that would allow me to get a certification that I had my eye on. Do your research and develop alternatives that may be an easier yes.
5. Know Your Limits (But Don’t Communicate Them)
This tip goes in line with knowing what you are trying to accomplish. Have your limits in mind but be sure not to communicate them to the other person. When I was in HR, I learned this tip from recruiters. When recruiters are looking for new talent, they will try to determine how much the person is currently making, whether via the application or in the initial interview. If they can gather this information, they now have a better position when negotiating a salary if the person is a good fit. The budget could have been $80,000 a year, but since the person making $65,000, they could offer $70,000 and save money. Be careful with communicating too early in the process.
Develop Your Confidence
Now that your research is out of the way, it’s time to work on the confidence needed to make the negotiation a success. Prepare your mind, and your mouth will follow.
6. Get Out of Your Head
We often tell ourselves we can’t do something before we even try. Subconsciously, this creates a barrier to success. If you believe you can’t do something, then you won’t! The same holds at the negotiation table. You have to think that you will be successful; otherwise, it will be challenging to convince the other person.
7. Confidence Poses
Practice power poses. Did you know there are certain poses you can do to increase your confidence?
The first power pose you can do is stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and hands by your side. The second is standing with your legs shoulder-width apart and putting your arms up in a V shape. I call this one the star pose. The third pose is to stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips with your chest up. The fourth pose is standing with your legs shoulder-width apart, placing your hands behind your head, and interlocking your fingers.
You will find that these poses almost immediately spark confidence when used. Some of them may feel silly at first, but you will start to feel more comfortable as you practice them. I typically do these poses right before I walk in the door or get on the call.
Watch this Ted Talk on the power of power posing:
This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget to breathe when we are in stressful situations or can cause anxiety. When we fail to breathe, it clouds our minds and changes the tone of our voice. This could be misinterpreted as not being prepared or not being confident. Practice taking deep breaths right before the meeting. I like to use the box breathing technique. This is when you inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold for four counts again before repeating. There are many other techniques, but the important part is to breathe!
9. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is an important skill to master. According to Psychology Today, Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and the feelings of others. This helps you better pick up on social cues from others and realize how you are feeling, not to allow emotions to get in the way of communication.
As I have said many times before on the blog, emotions control everything! Mastering your emotions and picking up on the feelings of others as part of your communication practice can go a long way!
10. Know The Different Types of Listening
Did you know that there are different types of listening? They are:
- Active Listening
- Critical Listening
- Informational Listening
- Empathetic Listening
- Appreciative Listening
For this article, I want to focus on active listening. Active listening is when you give the person you are talking to your full attention. You are not formulating any response or giving anything else priority over the conversation at hand. Start practicing active listening with every conversation you have and see the difference it makes in your outcomes.
At the Negotiation Table
Once you have done your research and increased your confidence, it is time to head into the gauntlet. I kid! Have the mindset that this is a pleasurable experience for you both, and everyone will come out winners.
11. Aim for a Win-Win
This is extremely important! As I said before, if one person feels like they were maltreated due to the negotiation, it can sour the relationship and prevent any further talks. If you don’t do this right, it could sever the entire relationship. One of the objectives of negotiation is the process of give and take. Ideally, each person should feel like they were on top.
I have learned in career and business that you never know when you might run into someone again. There have been situations when people treated me poorly in an entry-level role then their resume came across my desk later on. Always treat people with kindness, respect, and fairness when negotiating.
12. Let Them Offer First (if possible)
In negotiating, there is a saying that the first person to talk already loses. If it is possible, let the other person make the first offer. This strategy comes in handy when negotiating a salary or buying a car. Sometimes using this strategy can get awkward, but that leads me to my next tip.
13. Be OK With Silence
A good negotiator is OK with silence because sometimes awkward silence is good! This couldn’t be more evident than in a negotiation. I have just sat there at times, and both parties just stared at each other until someone finally said something.
You will be amazed how many times we talk ourselves out of something that could have been more beneficial. We don’t know when to be quiet and let the silence do our talking. We typically feel the need to fill the dead space out of awkwardness.
This also could turn into negotiating with yourself. How often have you made an offer then, instead of waiting for the other person to counter, you decided to make another lower offer first to fill the silence? This is negotiating with yourself. Allow the other person to take what you just said, marinate, and form their counteroffer. Doing this will keep you in a strong position.
Suppose you do have to give the first offer, anchor. Anchoring means putting out a higher number or value than your bare minimum. This works exceptionally well with selling a car or negotiating a salary. This allows the other person to talk you down if needed, and you still end up in a good position.
Anchoring is what car dealerships do regularly. If you negotiate with them long enough and keep the other tips in mind, you will find that they have quite a bit of wiggle room in the pricing. Use a page out of their playbook and anchor as part of your next deal.
15. Offer Options
Remember, in the research phase, when we created a plan B and C? This is where the comes in handy. If the negotiation for plan A didn’t work out, offer alternatives before the conversation ends or in your follow-up. Options could look like a concession on your end or something you are OK with in place of your first choice. Always have options available!
Negotiation is a give-and-take dance between two parties.
Before entering a negotiation, be well prepared. Know when you are willing to walk away. Understand your situation and the other party, including strengths, weaknesses, and alternatives.
Be confident and always aim for a final win-win agreement because you never know when you may run into that person again! Put the focus on giving the other party the best deal.
If you need help strategizing your next negotiation, I am here to help!