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The art of negotiating your way to success

There are only ever three outcomes to a negotiation. There is the win-win, the you-win, or what most people end up settling for where the otherside-wins. Have you ever come away from a discussion, a consultation about money, or a meeting of two sides where you felt that the outcome could have been a bit more favourable to you?

One of the greatest skills you can master in business, and in life in general, is the art of negotiation. Here are a few of the fundamentals I have learned over the years that still keep me in good stead, with healthy pockets, today.

Do your homework: There really is no point entering into a negotiation blind. If you are not prepared then you will have no foundation from which to make your case or defend what is fair, from your point of view. Before you enter the discussion, decide in your own mind your ideal outcome, your options and concessions, and the very least that you are prepared to accept. It is also a good idea to have a think about the other party’s position and where their different agreement points might be.

Listen more than you speak: Being a good listener and developing those skills is fundamental to getting the best from all types of communication. When you fully understand the position of the other party and the key points they are looking for, you can present an offer which ticks more of the right boxes for them. The outcome of a negotiation is often a case of how things ‘feel’ on the day the agreement is reached. Being a good listener and clarifying the details is also a good way to ensure that you haven’t missed anything important or signed up to something unknowingly.

Have a good strategy: I genuinely believe that the win-win outcome is usually better for you then the you-win scenario. The reason is that when everyone walks away happy the ongoing relationship is stronger, your integrity and reputation are strengthened, and it is just better all round for everyone. What you want to avoid, however, is someone bullying you out of a fair deal. So, remain confident at all times, try pitching a higher (but reasonable) offer early on, don’t drop down too quickly, swap concessions rather than give them away, and smile.

Leave the door open: People only ever come to the table if they want to do a deal. That means that, even if you feel you are in a weaker position at the start, you do hold one big card. As long as you are prepared to walk away (not in a strop or over petty issues) you can’t lose. Before you sit down to negotiate be absolutely sure where your lowest point is and be ready to walk away as soon as the conversation dips below that level. But do this politely so you can leave the door open for a call back to the table or time to sleep on it.

Win-win means both sides are happy – not just you and certainly not just them.

Happy negotiating!