Negotiation: The Skill Everyone Needs


 This is the last in a series of four blog posts in which I am talking about how “fair play” negotiating techniques can be adapted to everyday use. (link to first post, second post, third post)

Now let’s look at some specific “moves” to use during your discussion.

1. Ask for everything you want but demonstrate your willingness to be flexible. When you make your first offer you should treat it as if it is the last opportunity you will have to make an offer. Asking for everything gives you more room for being flexible and making concessions during the negotiation.

2. Split your differences. Sometimes a total agreement cannot be made and splitting the difference appears to be a perfect solution. Point out how close you are to a solution, the small difference that separate the two offers, and how much time already spent on the negotiation. Let the other person suggest the solution of splitting the difference.

Below are some signs that the negotiation is going off the rails:

1. Be aware of phrases that are used to make you feel comfortable during the negotiation. The best examples are: “Don’t worry,” and “Trust me.”

2. Listen for phrases that are used to hide important information. Examples are: “By the way,” “As you know,” and “Before I forget.”

3. Be on the lookout for phrases that are often used to promise something that the other is agreeing to but may not be able to accomplish. Examples are: “I’ll do my best,” “I’ll see what I can do,” and “I’ll do what I can.”

When things seem to be going off the rails, call the other person’s attention to it and ask for clarification!

Did you wonder why I asked you last time to think about how the for parts of a letter were like a negotiation? I think that re-framing the entire negotiation process as a “letter” helps keep it organized and on track. Here’s what I mean:

Greeting: Use the other person’s name. This will reassure them that you want to work together.

Opening: Clarify the objectives of the negotiation. Make sure everyone knows what goals each of you would like to reach at the end of the discussion. There may be more than one goal, so make sure everyone understands which is most important, and which is least important.

Body: Gather information about what specific needs each person has and make sure some needs for each person is going to be met.

Closing: Reach an agreement! Make sure to summarize the agreement reached and that everyone has the same interpretation of the agreement.

Remember, the more you use the “fair play” negotiating, the better you will be. Practice, practice, practice.