5 Rules of Effective Negotiating

Negotiating opportunities come up everyday—at home, at work, when you’re with your friends, and even with yourself. Sometimes they are small but then there are other occasions where the negotiation can be very impactful. In the bigger situations, it is usually better approach the negotiation after ample preparation. Here we will discuss five rules for negotiating that can help you make a transaction that’s more pleasant for everyone involved and better your chances at getting what you want.

Rule #1 — Always Ask

You never know what you can get until you ask for it. So many times we miss out on what we want simply because we do not ask. Because of this, negotiation should be thought of as one of the most-used tools in your life. We negotiate daily for the things that we want and need.

Rule #2 — Know What You Want

It’s difficult to have a successful negotiation if you don’t know what you want out of it. Once you‘ve considered the possible outcomes, you can decide how you will respond if it doesn’t end up in your favor. Just as you should know what you want, you should also know what’s totally unacceptable. What’s your deal breaker? Having a clear vision of the desired outcome will make it easier for you as you work your way through the negotiat­ing process.

Rule #3 — Prepare for the Type of Negotiating You Will Be Doing

Les Brown said, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” There are five types of negotiations and understanding them will determine how much prepara­tion you will need.

  • Impromptu — Often the person initiating the discussion is prepared, and knows how to convince the other person, who may not be as well prepared because the negotiation wasn’t anticipated.
  • Informal — Occurs at every meeting and can involve friends, colleagues, peers, immediate supervisor, and staff.
  • Formal — Both parties expect to negotiate and have time to prepare for the negotiation.
  • One-of-a-Kind — Both parties attempt to maximize their positions at the expense of the other. This negotiation is known as bargaining and is often confrontational and positional.
  • Ongoing Relationship — Both parties must be concerned not only with the tactical issues, but also must constantly be aware of the longer-term (strategic) implications of living or working together into the future. These ongoing relationships are more cooperative and have a greater atmosphere of trust and concern for the relationship as well as solutions.

Rule #4 — Understand Cultural Differences

What culture you were raised in may make a difference in your outlook on negotiation. Many people born in the United States are used to a “pre-packaged” society. Most of us go into a store and accept the marked prices. In many European and Latin cultures, negotiation is expected. Just because you aren’t used to asking for what you want, doesn’t make it rude when you do. Don’t wait until you are outside of the United States to practice — start now.

Rule #5 — Practice, Practice, Practice

Negotiation is a skill, which means it can be learned by anyone. Practice everywhere, at the restaurant, at the dollar store, at the airlines. Doing so will get you in the habit of asking. If you ask someone who does not have the “author­ity” to approve such a request, ask to speak to the person who does, and ask them for what you want. When they say “no,” find out why not. Always smile, keep an even voice, don’t make threats, and thank them for their time and explanation. Practice at home by doing what kids do. They ask you once, twice, and again. The next day they come and repeat their request. You don’t always give in, but they know the odds are in their favor if they don’t accept the first “no.” Be committed to the win-win. You aren’t going in for the kill. You’re going in to reach a mutual agreement on solving a common problem.

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