What is it that creates a confident and effective negotiator? The keys come before a negotiation even starts.
Studies show that how you prepare for a negotiation has a tremendous impact on its failure or success. Here are five vital preparation steps recommended in the book Built on Values, by Ann Rhoades:
- Prioritize your goals. If you’re going to compromise, you need to know what you must have, as opposed to what would be nice to have. The nice-to-have may be given up for obtaining the must-haves.
- Know your walk-away and alternatives. This gives you power in negotiations, because at some point you may be better off pursuing your alternative than settling for a suboptimal agreement. Know your walk-away point so that if you need to, you can abandon the negotiation.
- Show that you want to negotiate. Look at the other side’s problems and try to make sure that your proposal effectively resolves some of their key issues. That shows your willingness to be empathetic and fair.
- Promote long-term benefits. Point out that there can be an ongoing relationship between the parties (if this is true). One benefit of a successful compromise is that, at best, the future is not put in jeopardy and the possibility of doing future business together remains viable. A compromise now might lay the groundwork for future collaboration.
- Remember: All deals are not always winnable. Sometimes a compromise is the best you can do in a bad situation, when neither side can completely get what it wants.