10 Rules for Successful Negotiating

Striking great deals is a lot like playing poker. You want to keep the other person guessing about how much you’re willing to bend, but at the same time, you don’t want to overplay your hand and see the negotiations go sour. You want lower prices, better service, better terms, and additional perks. You know your suppliers can do this. But how do you convince them to give you what you want?

Chinese Business people shaking handsBy using these 10 simple rules in your negotiations, you’ll eliminate the dread and anxiety that come with trying to get the best deal. You’ll approach the bargaining table with confidence, eliminating much of the stress and hassle of haggling over prices and services. And best of all, you’ll get the best terms for your company every time!

Businessmen standing back to back for duel1. Know your objectives. Know what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do when you bargain. Know how much value you place on the issues you will be negotiating. Are there principles involved that are tremendously important to you? How much do you really value the money that’s involved? How do you feel about the other people in this interaction?

2. Strive for “win-win” results. If you both get what you want, you have probably done very well. You can hurt a potentially effective negotiation by trying to take advantage of your opponent.

3. Get as much information as you can before you begin. Buying a car is the easiest example where this rule applies.

4. Stay calm, cool, and collected. Act like a professional when you negotiate. Respect your own position, other people’s positions, and the situation.

5. Don’t be competitive just for competition’s sake. You don’t need to beat the other person to do well. Just satisfy your position as much as you can, and be cognizant of the interests of all involved parties.

6. Differentiate among different bargaining games. Some call for competitive behavior; some work better if you’re cooperative. Subtle changes in the situation can make a huge difference.

7. Work within your own position. If you have little or no power, don’t act as if you do. On the other hand, if you are blessed with power, you don’t have to flaunt it to be effective.

8. The most important outcome of a negotiation may not be monetary. Explore other contingencies beyond price alone. What about terms and conditions? Service? Training?

9. Think strategically. What should you do next? Afterward, evaluate your performance. Were your strategies effective? How could you have done better? Analyzing your results and providing yourself with feedback can be very important in getting ready for future negotiations.

10. Once it’s over, it’s over. Don’t worry about outcomes that weren’t achieved. Explore ways that you can improve, but don’t harp on mistakes. Everybody makes them. Experience and thoughtful analysis will continue to make you a better bargainer.

george clooney michael clayton negotiating


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