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The 7 dos and don’ts of effective negotiation

The 7 dos and don’ts of effective negotiation

July 2009

In this economy, being able to close important deals and negotiate better prices and terms is more essential than ever. But if you’re worried that being a good negotiator means having to fight dirty, you’re wrong – a negotiation should be an opportunity for give and take that results in a win-win situation for the participants involved. Learning how to negotiate effectively can help you achieve these winning results while strengthening business relationships.

Start improving your negotiation skills with these dos and don’ts:

Don’t appear needy. People can smell desperation. This will weaken your position and allow opponents to get you to make too large a concession or give too deep a discount. To keep yourself from appearing desperate and vulnerable, remember:

Don’t take it personally. Getting your emotions involved will cloud your ability to make sound arguments and judgments. To keep yourself from losing your cool, think of yourself as a professional dealmaker who will not be personally affected by the outcome of the negotiation. Take your emotions out of the equation. That way when things aren’t going your way, you’ll:

Be prepared to walk away. Being able to say “no” and mean it ensures you don’t end up making a bad deal. Before going into negotiations – and before your emotions and the heat of the moment become part of the mix – set your walk-away point. Then if the terms offered do not match up to your expectations, walk away. This not only strengthens your position, it will also win you some respect. Another thing to keep in mind is:

Don’t force it. By dragging out negotiations that are going nowhere, you’re wasting time and causing a lot of frustration. By pressuring your opponents to make a concession they don’t want or can’t afford to make, you’re creating bad feelings that could lead to mistrust and a wary working relationship. Remember, it’s about give and take, and when neither party is willing to budge, then the negotiation is over. And like many things in life, it’s beneficial to:

Do your research. Good negotiators come prepared. They find out what their opponent’s needs and wants are and what competitors can offer. They anticipate objections so they can counter them with arguments or other concessions. So do your homework and:

Practice, practice, practice. Like anything else, getting good at negotiating requires practice. Develop your confidence by practicing whenever you have the chance, whether it’s at a flea market or at home with your family members. Get used to negotiating in your daily life; then when you have to in an important business situation you can comfortably and confidently: 

Ask for it. Many people dislike negotiating because they feel embarrassed or scared asking for things they want. But if you don’t ask for something, you’ll rarely, if ever, get it. In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you can get if you ask for it. If the answer is no, then you have a starting point for your negotiations.

Those who are good at negotiating usually enjoy it. So don’t dread or fear negotiations. See it as a fun exchange, a battle of skills, practice grounds for future negotiations, and more importantly, as a way to build up the client-vendor relationship and win terms, prices and deals that are advantageous for you and your business.

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