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How To Negotiate (Complete Guide)

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Negotiation is a key to success regardless of the business you do. Business is only done through buying and selling. Both processes involve negotiation.

Any interaction where you ask something from another person is, at some level, a negotiation.

Examples of other things that you need to negotiate in business are:

  • a new contract with a supplier or customer
  • a merger with another company
  • an introduction to a new contact
  • Disagreements in the workplace and disputes
  • the salaries of your employees

What can you do to make sure you come to every negotiation?

People often assume that a good negotiator is all about having the best arguments. If you can build a solid case and get your point across rationally, you win the negotiation.

Negotiations usually don’t work for better or for worse. Building a solid case will surely help your cause. But if that’s all you do, chances are you’ll be behind the negotiation. Assuming that common sense is all you need to win, is a surefire way to get in the way of any negotiation.

Why does negotiation fail to be logical and rational? Let’s briefly consider two reasons for this:

  1. First, it is inherently a contested issue. It is not a process of scientific discovery. It’s a way of resolving disputes that don’t have a scientific or entirely logical answer. Negotiating is about reaching an agreement with another person, not proving something beyond doubt.
  2. Secondly, people often behave illogically and irrationally. Human nature and psychology are not logical. In any social interaction, there is always more than just logic.

Given this rational argument alone, it is not enough to win a negotiation. What can you do to gain an advantage in negotiating situations?

The best way forward is to learn about the non-rational influences on negotiations. Once you know what these are, put yourself in a place where you can use them to your advantage.

In this article, we’re going to look at five influences on any negotiation and how you can use them to make them work for you.

You may like to read ur article on how to write a freelance contract.

1. Your personal presentation

We all know the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover”. We know we shouldn’t judge others by their looks or what they’re wearing. But the truth is we do.

That means other people will judge you based on how you dress and present yourself. Let’s look at four reasons why personal presentation is important.

Good personal presentation:

Gives the right first impression

Job interviews are an important negotiation that almost everyone goes through at some point in life. A study by Professor Frank Bernieri of the University of Toledo found that interviewers give judgment in interview situations within 15 seconds of meeting candidates.

In Bernieri’s words, dressing incorrectly for an interview is tantamount to picking your nose during an interview. Bad personal presentation is a disaster.

If you dress appropriately for negotiation, you have a better chance of making the right first impression. It puts things on the right footing and creates a solid foundation for successful negotiations.

Increases your perceived status

A study was published in  Evolution and Human Behavior  The journal found that wearing clothes that are considered high makes people more successful in negotiation.

Study participants who wore designer clothes found it easier to:

  • Gaining cooperation with other people
  • Receive job recommendations
  • negotiate a higher salary
  • Collect contributions for charity

For example, a participant wearing a sweater with a designer logo asked passers-by to complete a survey. Over half (52%) of the respondents answered. In comparison, only 13% of respondents responded to a participant wearing a sweater without a logo.

Dress appropriately to improve your perceived status, which means that other people will want to help you as best they can.

Helps you feel better

When you dress to impress, you create a huge boost in your self-esteem. This confidence gives you the bargaining edge. As communications expert Cheryl Conner explains:

It is an established fact that people are quickest to do business with other people they trust and are most comfortable with. And few things inspire more confidence than a person who is comfortable and happy enough in their own being to focus the energy and substance of their presentation on what they can provide for you.

When you are feeling good, your confidence becomes apparent. This makes people want to do business with you.

Establishes an instant connection with others

Dressing appropriately for negotiation doesn’t always mean putting on professional clothes. A study at California State University, Northridge, found that participants were more likely to follow instructions carefully when given by someone in casual clothing. Why? Because the participants were students who dressed casually.

In other words, when you dress similarly to the people you are negotiating with, you create a mirror effect. When we mirror other people, we build a relationship with them. This mirroring can be a conscious process but is usually unconscious.

Now that you know how to dress for a negotiation, let’s see what to (and shouldn’t) say.

2. Your choice of words

Words are not neutral tools. Words have incredible power. As any poet will tell you, all words matter.

When choosing your words, here are some things to keep in mind:

All words have connotations

Whenever we say something, we always paint a bigger picture than the actual words we are using. Think of the difference when you refer to someone as a “friend”, “colleague”, or “boss”. One person could be all three, but each word gives a different impression. When you are in a negotiation, think about the connotations of your choice of words. And make sure you choose words that are appropriate for the negotiation.

Words plant seeds

When I tell you, “Don’t you think of a pink elephant,” what happens? You think of a pink elephant, don’t you? That’s just the way the mind works (if you want to know more it’s called ironic process theory). Words that you bring into a negotiation stay part of the negotiation. This includes the way you frame the negotiation.

Suppose you want to negotiate a raise because you performed well at work and you believe your salary should reflect your performance. You could ask your boss if you can discuss your salary. In this case, you put your boss on the defensive before the discussion has even started. Or you could ask for a performance review. This difference in framing has a major impact on the outcome of the negotiation.

Words make connection

In the previous section on personal appearance, we touched on the subject of mirroring. When your demeanor reflects the person you are speaking to, you are building a relationship.

You can create the same effect with words. Choose words and phrases that reflect what the person you are negotiating with is saying and you will develop a relationship with them.

Negotiation advisor Peter Frensdorf puts it this way: The more words you recycle (use the words again to serve your purpose), the greater your chance of acceptance.

3. Your body language

Word choice is important, but it is a known fact that what you don’t say is even more important than what you say. Body language makes up more than half of the messages you communicate.

You can adjust your body language to improve your chances of success in negotiation situations. Body language is a great way to build relationships, and good relationships produce good results in your negotiations.

Make eye contact

Making eye contact with the person you are negotiating with builds trust. It shows that you are involved in the conversation and creates an emotional connection. That said, you should moderate the eye contact, of course. Too much eyeball will feel like a confrontation.

Keep your hands open

Opening your hands with your palms is a sign that you accept the person you are talking to and want to lock them in. It is an effective gesture whether you are negotiating with one person or with a group of people.

Remember to mirror

As with clothing and word choices, body language can be mirrored to help develop relationships. Synchronize your body language with the person you are negotiating with and you will be relaxed and comfortable.

4. The negotiation room

By negotiating in your home area you have a great advantage because you can choose the setting of the negotiating room. The environment you create can influence the negotiation.

As Peter Frensdorf says:

A briefcase or a fruit basket on the negotiating table gives an impression of what is going on there. One indicates business; the other is a welcoming gesture.

The impact of the environment is a growing area of ​​research and it is worth digging into whenever you are setting up negotiating rooms. Let’s look at two examples to help you think in the right direction.

In a 2008 study published in  Science magazine Lawrence Williams and John Bargh discuss the effects of a hot or cold drink. The participants who were given a hot cup of coffee rated the people they met as having a “warmer” personality compared to the participants who were given a cold cup of coffee.

If you want to appear warm and friendly, offering hot drinks to guests is a good place to start.

Another easy way to influence a negotiation is through the chairs you sit in during the negotiation. Another study published in  Science Magazine found that “hard objects increased rigidity in negotiations.” In the negotiation simulation set up by the researchers, buyers who sat on soft chairs offered almost 40% more than buyers who sat on hard chairs.

Sit in a hard chair and you are more likely to play hardball in your negotiations. When mutual agreement is important, soft chairs are your best bet.

5. The dynamics of the negotiation

The word business is a bribe of “busyness”. In the business world, we are all busy and have many demands on our time. Therefore, almost all negotiations have a deadline. Effective negotiators know how to use this to their advantage. The key is to make sure that the momentum to negotiate is in your favor when it comes time to finalize things.

In his book  Why Don’t We Learn From History? BH Liddell Hart observes how the wheels of history often get on the nerves of decision-makers:

I have long since realized how important lunchtime is. Two hours or more may have been spent deliberately discussing and carefully considering a problem, but the final quarter of an hour often counts more than anything else. At 12:45 p.m. there may be no prospect of an agreed solution. Nevertheless, around 1 p.m., important decisions can be made with few arguments, since […] the attention […] is on the hands of […] watches. These moving hands can have a remarkable effect in speeding up the movements of the mind to the point of quick decision.

When you are in the negotiating room, watch out for the time. It can work for you or against you.

Now to you

What strategies do you use to ensure that your negotiations are successful? Let us know in the comments below.

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