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5 Tactics to Get a Win at the Negotiating Table

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You’re always negotiating.

It may be easier to pinpoint in your work life: prioritizing projects, haggling over salary or nailing down the specifics of a contract.

But you’re also locked in negotiations when you’re deciding which restaurant to go to for dinner with a friend or when you’re buying a new vehicle and trying to get the best price.

The bottom line is, to be successful in life – and especially in your career – you have to hone your negotiating skills.

Here are the techniques you need to be a competent negotiator.

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1. Make a personal connection

The last thing you want is to be viewed as the “enemy,” nor do you want to view the other party in this way.

It’ll be easier to come to an agreement in which you’re both satisfied if you make an effort to form a human connection.

Try some of these tips:

  • Bring a snack or coffee to share.
  • Engage in some small talk about lighter topics before you get down to the nitty-gritty.
  • Choose a seat on the same side of the table as the other party. You’ll feel less divided which can translate into a more receptive attitude.

2. Listen carefully during negotiations

You’re going to lose your chance at a favorable negotiation if you’re monopolizing the conversation and not paying attention to what the other person is saying.

This type of aggressive behavior turns people off quickly.

On the other hand, when you’re listening closely, you’re showing respect to the other person and gaining insight into their point of view and priorities.

Here’s how to be an active listener and build negotiating skills:

  • Spend more time listening than talking.
  • Wait for a beat or two before responding. Don’t confuse taking a breath with a finished thought.

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3. Remain emotionally neutral

Once you show emotion of any kind, you’re showing where you’re vulnerable.

Plus, getting agitated keeps you from making clear-headed decisions.

The goal is to stay calm and impassive.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Try some of these tips if you find yourself getting a little flustered or hot under the collar:

  • Take five and get a drink, take a quick walk or go to the bathroom.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Pause and think before speaking to prevent saying something you may regret later.

4. Be prepared to walk

Sometimes NO agreement is better than a compromise that’s too far past your minimum acceptable offer.

Know what your line is and be okay with walking away if the other party can’t meet it.

It can be hard to stand your ground in the moment.

These tips can help you be firm:

  • Write down the line you won’t cross in finding a compromise.
  • Practice what you’ll say if you find yourself in that situation.
  • Remember to stay positive in tone and polite.

5. Think outside the box

Your goal in negotiations is a win-win, right?

Sometimes you have to put your creativity to work so you can achieve a compromise that works for both of you.

For example, if the negotiation you’re involved in centers around money, ask the other party what OTHER elements are important to her and brainstorm solutions that aren’t monetary-based.

You can be a successful negotiator

The truth is, being a good negotiator is important for your own career and the success of your organization.

Avoid getting too emotionally involved and be prepared to walk away from a deal that’s not in your best interest.

When you learn to listen well, think creatively and make personal connections, you’ll increase your chances of an outcome that’s favorable.

Do you need some help building your negotiation skills?

Takeaway: Before your next trip to the negotiating table, review this list and focus on one or two aspects to implement.

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