Here’s what research, experience and common sense show works best. It may surprise you to learn that being less competitive can often make you more successful.
Life is one great big negotiation. You’re asking the cable company to fix a billing error. You’re negotiating a salary increase at work. You’re haggling with a 9-year-old over bedtime or with a teenager over curfew. In one way or another, your bargaining skills are always hard at work.
That’s why upgrading skills in this area pays dividends. Whether you are an employee, a boss, a spouse, a flea market vendor, a parent or a kid, you can use these 13 tips for more successful negotiations:
1. Stay focused on your goal
Negotiating is stressful, so it’s easy to lose focus. To stay on target:
- Try to avoid being ambushed by a negotiation. If possible, take the time to prepare your case and tactics. Plan how you’ll stay on track if the conversation veers into unexpected areas.
- Focus on what you stand to gain. “Whenever we think about our goals in terms of potential gains, we automatically (often without realizing it) become more comfortable with risk and less sensitive to concerns about what could go wrong,” writes the Harvard Business Review. Dwelling on what you might lose pulls you into a defensive position, making you conservative and risk-averse.
2. Know your limits
Negotiation is by definition a compromise. You’ll need to give up some things to win others. Before going into a negotiation, know clearly what you are willing to give up and where you cannot yield.
For help identifying what’s most important to you, use this dominant focus questionnaire.
3. Name your price first
Your opening bid sets the terms for the negotiation. Try to name a price first and name it high if you are negotiating salary, low if you’re negotiating a purchase price. You can give ground later, but you’ll never get a better number than your initial bid.