How to Perfect the Art of NegotiationThe art of negotiation is crucial to professional advancement.

We negotiate daily with colleagues, clients, managers, and vendors.

Nearly everything is negotiable—your salary, a better price, a job change.

Negotiating is a valuable skill leaders need to survive in today’s business world: To go after what you want, to create options where there previously weren’t any, and to defend yourself.

If you're unfamiliar with negotiating, it can be scary. But it doesn't have to be.

In fact, when you think about it, much of life is a negotiation. As Drake Baer said in Fast Company:

... that doesn't even have to be this gross, cynical thing. Let's admit it: We're constantly making deals, even with ourselves.

In the article, Baer shared some tips from Alice Boyes of Psychology Today on how to negotiate, even if the thought of it scares you.

Understand Your Attitude and Cognitive Style

Previous experiences always color your current present reactions. Boyes uses the example of anxious people.

She says they are more pessimistic than average, so when they are in a negotiation they tend to think the other person is more powerful.

However, that’s not always the reality. Even if you're anxious, you have some power in the negotiation as well. You may just  need to remind yourself that's the case.

Boyes suggests success in the art of negotiation includes thinking of it like a sport or game. This approach helps reduce the seriousness of the situation.

It's just a negotiation. It won’t kill you.

The Art of Negotiation Means Knowing Where to Start

“Think on this thing called anchoring bias, where the initial price predicts the final deal,” says Baer. Determine the best-case outcome before you enter a negotiation.

For example, Boyes says if you open your offer with a price of $300, you’ll end up with a higher price than if you started out with $250. The art of negotiation includes remembering this tactic and using it to your benefit.

Practice Makes Perfect

The art of negotiation is a skill we can all learn, but it does take practice.

“It could be something as simple as calling up your utility company and asking them to reduce your bill ... hit them with a competitor's price and see if they'll match it,” says Baer.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The worst someone could say is no.

Remember You Don't Have to Be a Jerk to Win

Yes, you should ask for what you want. But remember: Kindness goes a long way in the art of negotiation.

"People think they either have to be nice in order to spare hard feelings, or overly tough in order to win," Jeff Weiss said in a Harvard Business Review article on negotiation. But that idea is "a false dichotomy and an incredibly dangerous one.”

Instead of either being a pushover or overly hard-nosed, successful people usually are creative. They often focus on the "we."

After all, there is usually a mutually beneficial solution. It may just take time to figure out what it would look like.

The art of negotiation is all about getting what you want while maintaining your relationships. The key is to be prepared.

What other tactics have helped you with negotiations?


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