Not many people enjoy negotiating. Perhaps you are one of those people?
Maybe you try your hardest to negotiate, but find it too stressful when the time comes?
Alternatively, perhaps you feel like your best efforts at negotiating don’t get the results you want?
Whether you’re dealing with work negotiations or you are trying to negotiate with someone close to you, it can be very difficult. After all, it’s hard to be both respectful and assertive, conceding some ground while standing up for your needs. You may feel anxious, defensive, and struggle to say what you need to say.
However, there are things you can do to help you to negotiate better. Most of the things you can do to prepare yourself for negotiations can be done beforehand - but we also have some tips for you that will help in the moment of the negotiations.
Before we talk about how you can negotiate better, let’s take a look at what negotiations actually are and what they can do.
What Is Negotiation?
Negotiation is a method that is used to try and settle differences and come to an agreement between all parties. The point of a negotiation is to sort out any disagreements between people and try to achieve a compromise that guarantees the best outcome for all who are involved.
You can use negotiations in most situations, including in work disputes, domestic relationships, and within the legal system. There are also other situations where negotiation may take place, but most commonly it can be used to sort out business affairs.
It’s beneficial for everyone to have some general negotiation skills in case the situation arises where you need to use them. If you already have negotiated before, then you may already know how hard it can be, depending on the situation - which is why we want to share our tips on how to negotiate better.
Meanwhile, if you’re new to negotiation, we hope to make it less intimidating by providing you with a framework and some basic techniques that improve your communication skills.
Learn How To Negotiate in 8 simple ways
Now that you know what negotiation is, it’s time to look at ways to help you to negotiate better and hopefully make your next negotiation a successful one. All of these tips on how to negotiate better are as important as the other - so try to practice each one if you can.
It may help you to find some practice situations where the stakes are low. For example, if you’re hoping to improve negotiations with work, try deploying some of these techniques when you’re sorting out a minor dispute with a partner or family member. This will give you the confidence to negotiate when the stakes are higher.
Here are 8 ways to negotiate better.
1. Know What You’re Worth
It’s always good to know your worth and how much you are willing to give before you walk away. While compromise is important, this doesn’t mean giving in at all costs. Whether you are preparing for a work negotiation or a domestic relationship negotiation - it’s still good to know before you start what you are worth and what you want to gain from the negotiation itself.
Depending on your situation, you may have more worth than you think (for example, if the person who is negotiating with you needs you more than you need them). Try and look at the situation you are in and determine how you can negotiate to show your worth.
To take a basic example, suppose that you’re negotiating with a domestic partner about who should do which particular chores.
Before you sit down together, come up with an ideal distribution of labor (in your head or on paper).
Next, find some places where you’d give ground (for example, perhaps you’d prefer not to be the one who takes out the trash, but you’d be willing to do so if this was a dealbreaker for your partner).
Thirdly, note some places where you are not willing to give ground - in other words, in this example, the things that would lead you to walk away from the negotiation even if it is unresolved. In the case of chores, these might be tasks that are physically painful for you to perform or ones that would make you late for work.
The key idea here is for you to enter the negotiation with a flexible perspective but with clear areas where you will not compromise. Knowing your worth is an important step, as it can help you understand the decisions you need to make and how to approach the negotiation as a whole.
2. Use Silence To Your Advantage
A good tip for when you are negotiating with someone is to use silence to your advantage. For example, if someone has disagreed with something you have suggested, try not to say anything, as most people will fill the silence.
This technique can be great as most people hate awkward silences and will tend to fill the silence with conversation. So, instead of you replying straight away and possibly saying something you might regret - try to keep your cool and wait for the other person to speak.
For example, imagine that you suggest to a work colleague that they do the first half of your team presentation and you will do the second. When your colleague objects, hold off on responding for at least 10 seconds, and you might find your colleague says “Well, I suppose I could do the first half of the presentation if you give me an extra day to do so.”
Silence, then, can actually give you more power - it can make the other person in the negotiation get nervous and believe they have to give ground. So if you don’t think it’s necessary to speak up or fill the silence - don’t. You can let the other person do that and they may say something that will make the negotiation easier for you too.
In the rare case that the other person doesn’t fill the silence, you haven’t lost anything. You can simply restate your position in a different way, or ask a direct follow-up question.
Using silence is a low-risk strategy that can be extremely effective.
3. Build Your Confidence
It’s important to try and build on your confidence and use that confidence in your negotiations and other potentially difficult situations.
If you lack confidence, this can sometimes show in negotiations and could cause you to possibly not achieve what you wanted to achieve. People may see that they can pressure you into adopting a weaker position or making more compromises than you would like to.
Try to work on building your confidence and question why you may be feeling less confident or even scared to try and negotiate. Take care of yourself and don’t ignore your emotions either. If you can understand why you are feeling less confident, you can work towards building your confidence.
When you’re reflecting on self-confidence, it can be helpful to make a list. Write down all the things that you think might be feeding into your insecurities - especially specific incidents, as well as messages you’ve received from other people in your life.
Try to notice connections. For example, many people can remember experiences in childhood or adolescence where someone said something negative or something happened that felt humiliating. All of this will feed into how you feel when you negotiate.
Often, identifying these things helps you analyze them and gives you space to reject their significance. For each, negative thing you write on your list, try to write something with a positive spin. For example “I was bullied at school for being a nerd” can be translated to “People at school were insecure because I was more intelligent.”
Practice is also vital here. The more negotiations you engage in, the more confident you will be that you have the resilience to deal with this type of confrontation. In other ways, try stepping out of your comfort zone and developing a thicker skin and the negotiations should be a lot easier for you further down the line.
4. Do Your Homework
Before your negotiation, it’s extremely important to make sure you do your research and prepare yourself for what might be thrown at you. This could include researching the person you are negotiating with and their company (if this is a business-related negotiation).
It’s a good idea to try and gather as much information as you can until you feel prepared and ready to negotiate. Failure to do so could cause you to feel less confident and more stressed.
It could also mean that you are caught off guard with the negotiations due to something you didn’t know or from having a lack of knowledge about the person you are negotiating with. For example, imagine that you’re going to be negotiating on behalf of your company with someone who represents a different company. If you don’t look into this person’s background, you might accidentally dismiss something that they view as pivotal.
On the positive side, failing to look into someone’s history means that you miss opportunities to find common ground and make connections.
Even just noticing a shared individual in your life can help you to bond with the person you negotiate with. Meanwhile, their previous jobs could provide clues about their values.
If possible, don’t just rely on the internet when you’re preparing for a negotiation.
Ask people who you trust and respect for their thoughts on this person, and for insights into what drives them. Often, this type of interpersonal knowledge is worth much more than facts you can collect from a person’s CV.
So, in sum, to make sure you feel relaxed and confident going into the negotiation, make sure you are well prepared and have done your homework.
5. Demonstrate Perspective-Taking
If you’re going to be a good negotiator then you need to become skilled at seeing the situation from the other person’s perspective.
Rather than entering the discussion with a “win at all costs” mentality, try to demonstrate that you want them to feel satisfied. If you do so, they’ll typically respond by trying to help you feel satisfied too.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should just concede to any of their requests. Rather, it’s about identifying their most basic needs and making sure they are satisfied. This is what they really require, not what they say they want.
The above advice to do your homework makes you better at guessing these needs before you sit down with the person. However, you’ll usually have to ask a few careful questions to develop a more accurate view.
You should also be aware of the distinction between your own needs and wants. As suggested in the above tip about knowing what you’re worth, it’s good to have a tier of goals when negotiating. In other words, know what is vital, what is preferable, and what is merely desirable.
One way to negotiate better is to make sure you have the right mindset for it. This means that you are feeling positive, confident and believe in yourself and what you do. Having a strong mindset can help you feel more confident in your negotiations and achieve success.
While we looked at above at some of the things you can do to challenge low self-esteem and boost confidence, this kind of personal development is often a long-term project. If you have a negotiation to conduct in the coming days or weeks, you might be looking for a quick fix that helps you get into the right headspace.
Self-hypnosis can help you to clear your mind, relax and also change your mindset. It’s a very powerful tool that can actually help you to rewire your mindset to help you gain confidence in negotiations and become more able to stand your ground.
If you don’t know much about hypnosis, it can sound strange or even a little unsettling. However, the reality of hypnotherapy is simple and empowering. You simply enter a deeply relaxed, maximally receptive state of mind in which positive suggestions can more easily reach your subconscious mind.
We recommend the ‘Master The Art Of Negotiations’ hypnosis track - it has been designed to help you to feel more relaxed and confident when it comes to negotiating and getting your point across. You may notice benefits after listening just once, but you can also listen to the track as often as you like.
7. Don’t Take Things Personally
It can be very hard to do this, but you should try your best to not take things personally when it comes to negotiations. During negotiations, some people can become angry or upset, which may cause them to say things that might be hurtful - try and take it with a pinch of salt, as it’s normally said in the heat of the moment.
In addition, be mindful of the fact that people usually lash out because they feel threatened in some way. So, rather than thinking that someone’s angry words say something meaningful about you, assume that their reaction says more about them. Try not to take things to heart, as they may not have been said to intentionally upset you.
You do have the right to stand up for yourself in the negotiations but do so respectfully as you would not want to say something you might later regret. To be assertive and polite at the same time, make sure you keep a calm voice and use “I” statements.
For example, instead of saying “You’re being unreasonable, that isn’t what we agreed and you’re ruining our chance of success!” try something like:
“I feel like we’ve gotten off track. We originally agreed to X, and I feel like it’s really important to stick with that.”
It can be hard to control your emotions sometimes, but if you can do so in the negotiations you should have a better chance to achieve success in your negotiation and refrain from saying something you might regret after.
If all else fails and you feel overwhelmed in a negotiation, excuse yourself to get a glass of water or to take a restroom break. Often, just a few minutes of quiet and a chance to take some deep breaths will help you restore the mindset required for a good negotiation. This brief break will help the other party cool down as well.
8. Practice Active Listening
When you’re negotiating with someone, it’s vital to understand where they’re coming from and what they’re asking for. Equally, it’s important that your own perspective be clearly understood. However, negotiations can be tense, and it’s easy to misinterpret someone.
In some cases, all it takes is one misinterpretation to topple a negotiation, causing negative feelings or muddling the conversation. As such, it’s well worth taking the time to improve your listening skills, and to model good listening skills for your negotiation partner as well.
Practicing active listening involves a range of key skills, but we’ll take a quick look at some of the most powerful.
Firstly, monitor your own body language and that of the other person. Adopt an open posture, making eye contact, and keeping your arms by your sides (instead of folded).
Nod to indicate attentiveness and understanding. In most situations, this will help to relax the other person and their body language will also become more open. This indicates receptivity.
Secondly, take the time to make sure you’re understanding the other person. This technique is sometimes called “reflecting back.”
Simply paraphrase what your negotiation partner has said, and give them an opportunity to correct you.
For example, you might say “If I’m getting you right, you’d like me to take the lead on this project but to consult with you about two weeks into its development - or sooner if there’s a problem.”
The other person will feel heard and validated if you did understand them and should appreciate the effort and carefulness even if you’re getting something slightly wrong.
Active listening is a powerful tool in your arsenal as a negotiator, fostering respectful relationships and minimizing misunderstandings.
Learn How To Negotiate Better With Self-Hypnosis
These tips should help you to achieve success in your negotiations, or at the very least, help you to feel confident and relaxed in any negotiation. Again, whether this is a work-related or domestic relationship negotiation - these tips can help you either way.
Self-hypnosis is one of the most powerful tools you can use to help change your mindset in a more positive way.
Listening to the self-hypnosis downloads such as our ‘Master The Art Of Negotiations’ program, can not only help you visualize your next negotiation but also help you to feel more confident about it too. This creates a positive feedback loop, whether you feel progressively better about negotiations and continuously sharpen your skills.