A colleague once told me, “I never negotiate.” She may have thought that was true, but if we communicate with other people, we’re probably negotiating at some point. (Even if we don’t realize it.)
You might be wondering, “when am I negotiating?” Negotiation can be part of a change in your work responsibilities, or maybe an agreement about your role in a project.
Many exchanges that are viewed simply as conversations are really negotiations waiting to happen. Failing to frame these as negotiations can put you at a disadvantage.
Many people are actually too accommodating in situations where negotiation could come into play. Their answer is always “yes” or “okay.” Has there ever been a time, for example, when you were dissatisfied on the job because you were offering too much of your time or expertise without proportionate compensation? Were any conversations during that time negotiation opportunities that you missed?
According to a study cited in the article “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide,” “women who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers that women who don’t.” That’s telling. Negotiation works, and it works for both men and women.
Whether you are negotiating compensation, responsibilities on a project, budget for a new initiative, or a task deadline, you’ll find these 4 negotiation tips relevant for any situation:
- Ask questions. Studies have shown that successful negotiators are great questioners. They ask open-ended questions that get the other person talking. This reveals more of where the other party stands and understanding their needs gives you an advantage.
- Strike a balance between listening and making your case. You want to be clear and assertive, but also collaborative. Listening allows you to understand the needs, interests, and values of the other side.
- Know what you bring to the table. Understand clearly how you are positioning your product, idea, or service. Frame the conversation to show the value in what you’re stating, based on the other party’s priorities.
- Provide information that meets the needs of the other party. When your communication focuses on the needs of the other party, they’ll be more open to what you have to say.
Like all skillsets, negotiation skills can be learned, practiced, and mastered. Consider each conversation as a possible negotiation and practice using the tips above. You’ll soon find yourself having more productive conversations that leave all involved with more of what they want.