Keys to Being a Great Negotiator by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Negotiating skills are critical for business owners. Being a good negotiator will help you in every facet of your business, from hiring the right employees to getting the best deal on materials. Here are some important keys to effective negotiating.

  1. Know what you want. Have a clear picture of what you need to get out of the negotiation. Once you have this end in mind, you can create your plan on how to get there.
  1. Know what the other person wants. Of course, in many negotiating situations, you don’t truly have an opponent, but it is always important to understand the goals of the other side. Only when you have this knowledge can you come up with options that work for everyone.
  1. Create options. Begin looking for a middle ground before you ever begin the negotiation. Be clear in your own mind on what you are willing to concede and what is critical for you to gain.
  1. Ask for what you want. When you actually sit down to negotiate, the process is a bit of a dance. Start by asking for exactly what you want, so long as your request is humanly reasonable. (Don’t tell your new prospective Accounting Manager you want to hire them for $20,000 a year.)
  1. Then, wait to hear what they want, even though you should already know. The back and forth process of each person yielding on some issues and standing firm on others is what creates the feeling that everyone won at the end of the day. This is critical to the process because it ensures that you begin the newly negotiated relationship on a positive note. Don’t try to skip this part of the process.
  1. Celebrate the success. Don’t hesitate to let the other party know you are happy that you were able to negotiate a solution that works well for everyone. Don’t be shy about having negotiated your way into a great situation. At the end of the day, you will gain respect for this skill.

Negotiation is a fine art, and you will need practice in order to get it right. Over time, however, you’re likely to find that you go through all of the steps above automatically as you become more proficient in the give and take that is required to create a situation that is good for your business and for those who work with you.