I recently participated in a conference about negotiation. I left with a list of negotiation “pointers,” short strategies to help keep your eyes on the prize when negotiating. I’ll share five good ones here.
1. Set your goals ahead of time and come prepared with alternatives. You (should) know you will be making concessions in the negotiation process; try to think of what concessions are acceptable and where you’ll need to draw the line. In this planning, also anticipate your opponent’s points and develop responses.
2. Make sure the other side feels heard and understood. Then make sure they hear and understand you. If either party to a negotiation is not being heard, it’s not really a negotiation.
3. Don’t be dragged into an emotional response. Condescension, rudeness or bullying should be firmly met. Don’t back down–remind them that you came prepared to make a deal and that you thought they did too, then transition back to the points you want to discuss. Once your opponent realizes their tactics are not intimidating you, they will likely stop.
4. “Horse trade” when making concessions. Try to make concessions conditional on an equal or greater concession by them. Also, before making a concession, try to find out what additional concessions they will ask for before signing an agreement.
5. Don’t be afraid to invoke a “cooling off period.” If you reach an impasse, or are not sure what move to make next, consider asking your opponent to give you 24 hours to consider their last move. A corollary is not to be so eager to make a deal that you make concessions you will later regret.
And, remember, we’re all counting on you.