“People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, assuage their fears, justify their failures, confirm their suspicions, and throw rocks at their enemies.” – Blair Warren
In life, you need to continually use the best negotiation techniques possible in order to optimize what you can gain and minimize unpleasant circumstances that are avoidable. Life is a series of negotiations. In nearly every situation, everyone has their own self-interests and agendas, and the key is to continually satisfy those elements while ensuring you can get the most you can out of life.
Effective negotiation involves all parties involved making trades where everyone gets what they want. In any negotiation, every side should feel like it’s getting higher value than they would otherwise.
The following negotiation techniques detail how you can effectively reach a deal where all sides feel like they’re getting what they want.
- Give the Other Side What They Want – An ideal negotiation is one where you get exactly what you want and the other party feels like it got more out of the deal than you did. Changing somebody’s mind is difficult and exhausting—and it rarely works. Great negotiators focus on how they can give other people what they want. It’s key to figure out what the other party truly wants and being able to provide it. You will likely need to ask questions and determine the barriers that need to be overcome to provide what they’re after.
- Examples of questions to consider:
- What they want to accomplish?
- What they are concerned about for the future?
- What their most pressing obstacles?
- If they are dissatisfied with their current situation, how can you best address those issues?
- Examples of questions to consider:
- Your proposal should be portrayed as personally beneficial to them – figure out and describe how the other party can benefit from your proposal; Explain why your offer appeals more to their self-interests than their other considerations.
- “You’ll benefit more from this approach than what you considered before. Here’s why….”
- “You’ll actually gain much more with this approach. Here’s why…”
- “Two months from now, you’ll be glad you made this option. Here’s why…”
- Identify the circumstances where a negotiation is possible – asking people a question that starts with “under what circumstance” opens their minds and gets them to consider conclusions in which they agree to your side of the deal. When they tell you circumstances that would spur an agreement, write those circumstances down and determine the ones most feasible for you to consider. General examples:
- “Under what circumstance would you agree to this offer?”
- “Under what circumstance would you agree to a date?”
- “Under what circumstance would you sign a deal with our company?”
- Empathize with their situation to reduce resistance – when people understand you are thinking about their needs, they relax and get become more open to what you have to say. Here are four ways to go about this:
- Say what they want to say before they say it. This takes the wind out of their sails and makes them want to cooperate with you.
- Explain in great detail what’s beneficial, logical, and fair about their side of the deal and the goals they’re trying to accomplish.
- Tell them the reasons why their position is right and correct—but offer an alternative to reach their goals that is also favorable to achieving your negotiation offer.
- Express empathy and understanding of their situation and perspective if they turn down your initial proposition; offer help to aid them with fulfilling your side of the deal.
- Ask for their advice on the best course of action; this gives them a chance to express their feelings about the situation and it gives them perceived control.
- Allude to worst case scenarios if the deal doesn’t come to fruition – frame the current and future circumstances as a lose-lose if they don’t go with your proposal; go into detail about an increasingly bleaker future as a result of not striking a deal and the lost potential (opportunity cost) of not agreeing on a deal; for maximum results, appeal to what they fear losing
- Decrease the perceived risk of your proposal – find ways to make your proposal more manageable, less risky, and less difficult to handle for other parties; figure out and address their biggest concerns with your proposal; minimize the areas where they are most threatened by your proposition and maximize the areas where they can benefit
- “How can I make my offer easier for you to handle?
- “How can I make it more manageable for you?”
- Use their norms and worldviews to bring them to your side – leverage their present worldviews, current influencers, and ways of doing things to influence their next actions; make your negotiation offer seem like a natural continuation of how they normally behave
- Look for goals that both parties are trying to accomplish – finding common ground early in a negotiation makes all involved parties more likely to listen to ideas they’re not familiar with later; find points of agreement early. Here’s one way approach you may consider using:
- “If you want me to do what you want me to do, how am I supposed to do it unless I get these things?”
- Try to elicit a “that’s right” response to make later processes in the negotiation much easier; this is often made possible by saying what they want to say before they say it
- Make your offer and the expected results of that offer as specific as possible – this increases the credibility of your offer and helps to steer the narrative of the overall negotiation
- Offer something outside the perceived bounds of the negotiation (Sweeten the Deal) – It might not be possible for the other side to benefit from your proposition (especially if it’s ambitious) without you offering something outside the perceived bounds of the negotiation. Ask yourself how you can secure your proposal and have them benefit as much or more from the deal.
- Create Cognitive Dissonance – make the notion of rejecting your offer seem uncharacteristic of their core beliefs, values, worldview, goals, and ways of doing things; likewise, make your proposal seem like a normal extension of their goals and ways of doing things
- Unveil how impractical their propositions are – if someone presents a proposition that you are unable to entertain, present logical reasons why their proposal is unreasonable and unachievable. There are two ways to accomplish this:
- When presented with a low-ball proposal, ask “How am I supposed to do that?” or “what are we trying to achieve here?” As they explain the proposal, continually ask questions and poke holes in their argument to enable them find out for themselves why their offer is impractical
- Let them attempt to accomplish difficult parts of their proposal for themselves. If their proposal is truly intractable, they’ll figure out why they should choose another approach.
- Anchoring – Studies show that the first offer made in a negotiation pulls the other party’s counter offer in that direction. Here are a couple of ways to go about this:
- Start with a low-ball proposal that is outside the perceived zone of possible outcome. This will make a more feasible proposal seem more reasonable by comparison.
- Counterpoint: let the other party anchor first so that you’ll find out what they want and you can tailor your proposal to be more beneficial to the other party.
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