Every day, each of us has to negotiate something, whether it’s jostling into line at the grocery store or our next job’s salary. It’s a powerful skill that can bring major benefits into our lives. Common knowledge says that negotiation is how intelligent people get what they want, even when the odds are stacked against them.
So why does it make so many people nervous?
One reason is that negotiation is often seen — and experienced — the same as coercion. Think the used car salesman who just won’t let you go or the boardroom tycoon slamming his first on the conference table. Does negotiation have to be like this?
You absolutely do not have to be a bully in order to be a great negotiator. In fact, experts are now looking at negotiation differently, in terms of what they call “noncoercive power-sharing.” This view rejects typical power dynamics (some of which are unjustly set by race, class, and gender) and reframes negotiation around creating results that work well for both parties, not total domination by one person over the other.
In light of this new understanding of negotiation, here are three tips that will help you produce results you love without the coercive, “battlefield” mentality of old-school tactics.
- Tune Into Emotions
Pay extra close attention to your emotions as well as your counterpart’s — not to look for signs of weakness, but to differentiate between and leverage moments of discord or agreement. Stay civil and professional, and heed warning signs (frowning, crossed arms, etc.) if things get heated.
- Be Open About Your Worries
With your own emotions in check, you are free to voice your concerns rationally. Put your reservations on the table and wait patiently to see what the response is.
- Walk Away If You Must
Walking away from terms not negotiated to your liking is the ultimate trump card. If you’ve dealt with your negotiation respectfully and honestly and you haven’t arrived at a sufficient conclusion, walk away. Your counterpart will be forced to come to an agreement with you, or you’ll save yourself the trouble of a bad deal — a win for you either way.
The best negotiators know their power comes from mutual respect and working toward a higher good. When you learn to balance your own power with a concern for your counterpart, you’ll have an easier time producing satisfying results.