The right business communication degree can help boost your negotiation skills. Whether you’re trying to increase your starting salary at a new job or settling a high-profile business deal, strong negotiation skills are a must. But what are the best negotiation tactics, and how can you fine tune them? Here are five approaches that work—and five to avoid.
One of the most effective negotiation strategies is preparation. Research the person with whom you’ll be negotiating, from the organization they’re representing to the deals they’ve made in the past. If possible, seek out colleagues who have negotiated with the same individual or group before, to gain insight into what you should expect.
DO know your bottom line.
Before going into negotiations, be sure to determine your desired outcome and make a pact—with yourself and others, if applicable—not to stray from it. Setting a bottom line will enable you to know when to step back from negotiations and when to move forward.
DO use a friendly approach.
When it comes to business negotiations, warmth and friendliness go a long way, even as you’re aware of the need to be cautious and not too open. Take time to smile and exchange pleasantries. You may be surprised by how small talk can lead to shared common ground, which can lead to smoother negotiations and a better outcome for everyone involved.
DO listen to others.
The most important negotiation tactic is one many of us were taught early in our lives, but are likely still trying to master: listening. When you’re eager to make a business deal, it’s easy to get caught up in your talking points. The most effective negotiators follow the 80/20 rule: Listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time.
DO consider all of your options.
While it’s important to know your bottom line, it’s just as important to keep your mind open to a variety of options. If you go into business negotiations with a closed mind, you may miss an unexpected opportunity you would have never thought to consider otherwise.
DON’T get caught up in emotions.
When it comes to business negotiations, don’t let your emotions dictate your approach. Not only does it interfere with our judgment, it can lead to highly charged blunders that hinder or halt negotiations altogether. Stay calm and friendly, even if those you’re negotiating with aren’t.
DON’T underestimate your worth.
One of the biggest potential pitfalls of negotiating, especially for those new to business negotiations, is underestimating what you and/or your organization have to offer the other party. Write down your accomplishments or your organization’s strengths before going into negotiations, and keep them in mind as you advocate for what you want.
DON’T have an “all-or-nothing” attitude.
It’s essential to remember that negotiating, in business or otherwise, requires compromise. The best negotiation tactics are those that focus on developing a mutually beneficial deal for both parties. One-sided thinking is not likely to end with a successful deal, so make sure you know which items are essential to your position and which points you can concede.
DON’T gloat after a win.
If (or, hopefully, when) your negotiation tactics produce your desired outcome, act as professionally as you did throughout your discussions. After all, businesses change quickly. The person you gloated in front of yesterday may be the person you’re working with or reporting to tomorrow.
DON’T underestimate anyone.
Regardless of the number of people or appearance of strength and size (or lack thereof) on either side, don’t underestimate the power of a determined competitor—including you. Financial worth and business size may be powerful, but so are preparation, a solid plan, and a great attitude.