November 4, 2013
10 tips for improving your negotiating skills
In today's business world, being a good negotiator can make a big difference in your career. It can mean earning more money (by negotiating a raise), earning a higher title (by negotiating a promotion) or even obtaining additional budget money (to take on or fund a prominent project).
How good are you at negotiating?
No matter what the topic for discussion, successfully negotiating to achieve your goals requires thought and practice. I've watched people go from being terrified of negotiating to loving it.
How? They changed their approach and started thinking about negotiating as: 1) a simple process to follow, 2) a thoughtful interaction with other people, and 3) a way to determine even better solutions.
Try these 10 tips and see if they help you improve your negotiating skills:
Do your homework. Research the topic and think through your options before you hold the discussion.
See the situation from all angles. Try to understand where the other side is coming from; try asking them to tell you about their needs and key concerns.
Clearly define your goals. Prior to the discussion, make sure you are clear on what you want as well as your "walk-away" point (the minimum outcome you're willing to accept).
Determine the best timing. You'll want enough time for the discussion, and to hold it when all parties are relaxed and not emotional.
Remain calm and avoid getting emotional. The more emotional you become, the more clouded your thinking will be.
Listen, listen and listen some more. Spend more time listening than talking during the discussion.
Ask for what you want. Don't be afraid to explain your needs and what you'd like to see occur as an outcome, but do so calmly and in a non-confrontational tone of voice.
Avoid finger-pointing. Focus on the issues, not on personalities.
Find a creative solution. Think win/win, not that someone must walk away a winner and the other a loser. There's nothing wrong with working together to determine creative ways to meet the needs of both parties.
Remember that there will always be a tomorrow. If the discussion heads in a wrong direction and tempers flare, it's OK to recommend picking up the discussion on another day, after everyone has had an opportunity to take a step back, relax and think.
Bonus: Being a good negotiator can also help you in your personal life, such as agreeing on bedtimes for the kids, which movie to see or which restaurant to eat at with your spouse.
Don't be afraid; start practicing your negotiating skills today!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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