Top tips for successful negotiating

“Everything is negotiable.  Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing”  Carrie Fisher

There are plenty of politicians and commentators both in the UK and wider world that would probably agree with this sentiment.  We’re talking about borders and backstops with Brexit; the US has been haggling over border finances with shutdowns vs demands; the Katowice climate change conference in December 2018 held talks on regulations that will govern the nuts and bolts of how countries cut carbon, provide finance to poorer nations and ensure that everyone is doing what they say they are doing.

There are some key things to bear in mind with every negotiation:-

Flexibility – Need vs Want –   The other side will have wants but – more importantly – they’ll also have needs. Accept that you are going to have to be flexible and concede, sometimes in crucial areas, in order for everyone to have a result.

Time management – we’ve heard a lot about “running down the clock” – have a time frame that everyone works to.  Think about those SMART objectives we all talk about – the final two are realistic and time frame. Structure a workable, manageable timeframe and be prepared to discuss adapting this to meet the needs of the parties.

Be respectful – everyone has their own values and opinions – just because yours differ from your opponent, doesn’t mean they are wrong and you are right.  Respecting each other’s position enables the talking to be productive and takes the personalities out of the equation.

Engage with all parties – the simple response for many is to dig in their heels and refuse to engage with all interested parties.

Be accurate and factual – don’t allow anyone in the negotiation to make fluffy statements and sweeping accusations.  Keep it focused and relevant.

WIIFM – What’s in it for me?  If you are negotiating a contract with a supplier, a client or a pay rise with your employer this is often the driver behind the discussions.  It might seem selfish, but knowing this can help to bring about healthy, productive solutions.

Meetings – don’t have meetings for the sake of having meetings.  Make sure they are structured, with an agenda – if you end up going over the same old ground every time, the meeting has no point.

Walk away– sometimes the strength is knowing when there is nothing left to discuss and accepting that you’ll have to forego your negotiations.  This may not be forever (as in supplier/client/wage scenarios) but don’t flog a dead horse just for the sake of it.

Dignity – whatever else, always keep your dignity.  There’s nothing worse than having a “shouty” negotiating approach.

Sounds simple in theory and no doubt we have all been in situations where we’ve struggled to maintain these key points, but then as Carrie said at the start, no one said it would be easy!

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