When people ask me the question “if you had a genie grant you one wish what would it be?” My answer is usually “I wish I can get anyone to do anything I say!” Well, with good persuasion and negotiation skills, I’m not too far off ;-) The golden ticket to any successful relationship is the ability for both parties to feel their needs are met without making unfair sacrifices. For that reason, negotiation is an art. This blog post is not specific to events and can work with a friend, a spouse or a sibling. I’ve learned 5 crucial steps to mastering this art and I hope it prepares you to walk into any situation feeling the confidence of having your needs met without bullying the other person or feeling bullied.
1. Strategize – before walking in to the “negotiation room”, outline what you would consider to be a win/win situation. What’s the outcome that would give you what you want while simultaneously meeting the other person’s needs? Negotiation in that sense is a bit difference from compromise. Compromise sometimes means both parties have to give something up in order to come at a fair and middle point. Negotiation means coming up with a solution where both parties get what they want. The crucial pre-requisite is you have to know what the other party wants out of this. This brings me to the next point.
2. Don’t do all the talking! How will you come up with a solution that adapts to the other party’s needs if you don’t know what those needs are? Even if you are aware of those needs prior to starting your negotiation, the first thing you do is recap them and ask the person to elaborate or insert more information you may have missed. Dig for information, listen to the answer and read between the lines.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – So naturally once the other party has explained what’s important to them and you can identify their “pain points”, don’t present a solution just yet. It’s your turn to be heard. Be clear about what your end of the win/win situation looks like and why that’s important to you. Depending on the situation, I would even aim a little higher so that when you begin to negotiate and forgo some of what you’re asking for, you end up somewhere near your goal.
4. Be cool, calm, collected and be ready to walk away – So now you’re both aware of each other’s needs. Don’t be the first to present a solution. Ask the other party “Ok, I completely understand what you need from this situation and you know what’s important to me. What do you suggest?”. This puts the ball in their court. Remember, you’ve already come up with a solution on how both of you win so sit tight and hear them out. Once they present their suggestion, match that against what you had in mind. There are 3 outcomes:
a. If it’s not that far off from your solution, decide if the difference is worth prolonging the negotiation process. If the answer is yes, see outcome (c).
b. If it’s exactly what you had in mind, then shake hands because you got yourself a deal!
c. If it’s completely different from what you wanted and their solution sacrifices your happy ending, tell them you feel it’s weighed heavily on their needs and present your solution. If they’re not willing to renegotiate based on your solution, walk away. You can’t force someone to negotiate like a Boss. Not everyone is as good at it as you!
5. Have a deadline – Whether it’s a hybrid of both your solutions or your suggestion is the better option, the other party may need some time to think it over. Calmly say “Absolutely! I’m here if you want to talk it over. I call you tomorrow so we can talk about next steps.” This way you’re applying pressure without being rude or a bully. If tomorrow doesn’t work for them, suggest the day after and stress that the result of this negotiation is holding you back from doing other things.
For more information and resources on how to negotiate, I really enjoy Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals by Ed Brodow. It has applicable techniques that take the negotiation process to the next level.