The Art of Negotiation

There is one thing that we are all doing every day: consciously or not, from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night you are negotiating, persuading and influencing other people. No matter what industry you are in, chances are that several times a day you are trying to get people to cooperate with you to accomplish the things you need. So the question is not if you are a negotiator or not, but how good of a negotiator you are.

When we think about ways in which negotiating can help us we usually think about money, but good negotiation skills can help us in a lot of ways: all top executives and sales people are excellent negotiators, effective parents must influence their kids in a positive way, and efficient employees are good at getting other colleagues or bosses to cooperate and get a job done.

That is why excellent negotiation skills are crucial for making progress in all areas of our life.

So what really is negotiation? Herb Cohen puts it best in his book, “You can negotiate anything”: Negotiation is nothing more than a domain of knowledge and effort that focuses on winning the goodwill of certain people from which we want something. Life has proven times again that hard work and virtue alone aren’t always enough to win in life: the true winners seem to be the ones that are both competent but who also have the ability to negotiate their way to success.

Having said that, before starting any negotiation, you need to ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  • Do I feel ok negotiating this?
  • If I negotiate, can I obtain something that I want?
  • Are the benefits obtained from this negotiation worth my time and energy?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to all of the questions above, you are ready to prepare a negotiation.

In any type of negotiation, three essential elements are always present:

A. Information

In any negotiation it is of paramount importance not to divulge more information than needed and to know more about the rival team and their true needs than they know about you. For example, if you go to buy a refrigerator and tell the sales people that you want a certain brand immediately and that you can’t find that refrigerator anywhere else, than you give them leverage over you and the power you had in the negotiation diminishes. That is because you don’t know if, for example, the manager of the store wants a product to be sold today no matter the costs.

Also it will be very wise to be well informed about what it is you want to sell or acquire, because being better informed about the current transaction and other offers can provide you unquestionable leverage.

B. Time

During a negotiation, each side has it’s own time limit, even if it tries hard to hide it. If the people you negotiate with seem to feel more time pressure than you, you are in luck. In most negotiation cases when time is on your side, waiting will not help your rivals, so if you don’t know what to do, waiting can be a good start. As a rule of thumb, never reveal your deadline, because your rivals will use that to their advantage stalling the progress of negotiation until you ran out of time.

Interesting position shifts can usually be seen towards the end of a negotiation, because unlike people, circumstances can easily change with time. Taking the time to really think about your actions is usually the best approach.

C. Power

“Power is a curious thing. Who lives, Who dies. Power resides where men believe it resides. It is a trick, A shadow on the wall.” – Varys, Game of Thrones.

Power is an extraordinary concept, that designates the capacity and ability to achieve goals and to have a certain control over other people, events, situations, and also over oneself. But still, as the skillful “spider”, Lord Varys tells us, any form of power is based around perception. If you consider that you have the power, then that is the case. If you think you don’t have the power, then even if that is not the case, you don’t have it. You have more power if you really believe that you’re in control and if you see life’s opportunities as negotiations.

The ability to negotiate influences your capacity to change the world around you, giving you the certainty that you’re in control over your own life. It doesn’t mean you need to intimidate people or use unfair tactics, it means you need to decipher information, time and power so that you can change behaviors and make the things evolve the way you want.

If you want to find out more about negotiation, stay tuned for more articles that will go deeper into tactics you can use an be aware of in day to day life.