By Essie Bester
Whether you want to ask for an increase or a good price for a new car or want to empower yourself to master negotiating skills in your profession – you can tip the scales in your favour.
Many people believe that negotiations necessarily result in an all-or-nothing situation and that there must be a winner and a loser. Nothing is further from the truth.
Although the purpose of negotiations definitely is to get what you want, it is a fact that the best agreements (those that last) encompass the terms and conditions of both parties, according to Solidarity’s Guild for Communications and Marketing.
- Be specific
Sometimes we expect to get exactly what we want without being clear about what it is that we want. You cannot expect other people to read your mind. Make sure you know exactly what you want and ask for it explicitly.
- Stop apologising
It is embarrassing and stressful to ask for better benefits. Most of us also find it difficult to stay with what we would like to have. Experts say this is the reason why we apologise for what we want.
We confuse the need to apologise with courtesy and thereby give the impression that we are not self-assured.
You can still be courteous and polite without backing away. Be self-assured and clear about what you want.
- Make it a joint effort
Negotiations for better benefits should be seen as a joint effort between two independent individuals who want to achieve a common goal. This gives the process a more positive, less aggressive feeling. After all, neither you nor the other party can achieve your goal without the other, and this is an incentive to cooperate.
When you ask for what you want, you must think beforehand what the other person can gain by it. Then use these benefits as selling points for successful negotiations. Study every possible aspect of your case beforehand, prepare as well as possible and be flexible – this could assure that both parties walk away satisfied.
- Do your homework
The difference between experienced and inexperienced negotiators does not so much lie in what happens around the negotiating table but rather in the preparation.
With thorough preparation you will find the negotiations less intimidating. It serves no purpose asking for an increase without you researching beforehand what the average compensation of other individuals in your position is, or if you cannot motivate why you deserve a raise.
If you have clarity about your own goals and try to visualise the goals of the person with whom you are negotiating (so that you can gauge more or less what he or she wants out of it) as well as possible, your chances of success are so much better.
- Decide beforehand on what you are prepared to accept
Make sure that you have a second choice for in case the desired result is not possible. If, during a job interview, you cannot get your asking salary, you need to know what the next-best offer is that you are prepared to accept.
If you know what your alternatives are, you can negotiate for a better outcome and it also helps you to know when you should rather stop the negotiations.
- Keep the negotiations positive
The idea that the success or failure of your negotiations could affect you alone, could perhaps cause you to sheer away from negotiating. Rather think in terms of how it could affect your whole family or your business. This could help you try harder for a better result.
- Keep your emotional balance
It is very important to control your emotions when discussions become difficult because otherwise your ego could easily make you falter.
What happens when your opponent flings a personal insult at you? The advice of experts is to laugh it off and ask for a more reasonable approach. To further defuse situations like this you can ask for a break. Interrupt the conversation and take time to regroup and get back to your comfort zone.
Nothing prevents you to decide that you want time to reflect on what was said at the negotiations or that you need time for further research. Take a breather and come back emotionally stronger and better prepared.
- Keep on practising
The idea that good negotiators are born like that is simply not true. Negotiation is a skill that can be developed with time. And as with most skills, practice and feedback are necessary to perfect it.