Whether you work for an employer or own your own business, the ability to effectively negotiate can make the difference between success and mediocrity. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, or how far you are in your career. This is because the skill of “getting to yes” is one not widely taught.
With that said, whether it’s a multi-million dollar contract, a job offer, or a luncheon, keep this advice in mind the next time you approach the negotiating table:
Know what you want. Don’t go to the table without a clear, realistic idea of what you want to achieve. It will help you negotiate with confidence.
Ask for what you want. Don’t be afraid to make the first offer. You’ll set the tone for the discussion, and studies suggest that the negotiator who goes first usually comes closer to getting what he or she wants.
Understand what your partner wants. A successful negotiation should satisfy both sides. Instead of trying to crush your competition, find out what he or she hopes to get, and try to work together toward a solution that works for you both.
Don’t concede unilaterally. Usually one side or the other has to give something up. If you do that, be sure to get a comparable concession from the other person. Giving away something for nothing will be taken as a weakness to be exploited.
Don’t rush. Time can be your friend if you’re willing to wait for the right deal. If the other side senses a deadline, he or she may be motivated to hold out until the last minute, or try to force you into accepting unreasonable terms. Be patient and let the time pressure work against your partner.
Be ready to walk away. This can take a certain amount of courage, but it’s necessary to avoid being backed into an agreement you don’t want. If possible, keep an ally in reserve—someone with the power to approve or reject the deal. This can give you an out if you need to turn down a deal, or motivate the other side to make the best offer