The Art and Importance of Negotiation
You can’t get something for nothing in this world. If you want it, you need to put in the work for it.
In prehistoric times, this meant that if we wanted to eat, we had to hunt or forage food for ourselves. Unfortunately, not everyone had the same level of hunting skills or available game to hunt, nor could they all access the same resources. However, our ancestors eventually learned that they could trade what they had to others in exchange for whatever it was they themselves were lacking.
In order for their bartering to work, they had to develop a sense of value, determining what they were willing to give and how much they required in exchange. Disagreements occurred, perceptions of worth didn’t always line up, but by working it out, they eventually reached agreements. This was a major breakthrough in human history, as the art of negotiation was born!
Over the course of history, humanity has continued to explore and refine this noble art, developing knowledge and crafting strategies that they applied to deals great and small, shaping the very course of civilization. To this very day, negotiations continue to influence the state of the world, from powerful political leaders reaching a consensus on international affairs to major corporations sealing deals that impact the global economy.
If you wish to pursue a successful career, then you must gain an understanding of how negotiation works and devise unique ways to apply it to the benefit of your business. I’m fully aware of how daunting this may sound to some of you, it’s no secret that confrontation is extremely unnerving for many people. However, your career will not progress and your business will not grow if you allow yourself to be your own hindrance.
If our prehistoric ancestors were able to devise this system, if generation after generation was able to add and improve upon it, then you can and you will be able to continue the tradition, and I am going to show you how.
No matter what kind of deal you’re going into, be it pitching a business plan to potential investors or haggling with an employee seeking a raise, the same principles apply.
For starters, it’s good to be confident, but important not to be cocky. Start negotiations off from an approachable place, and do everything you can to maintain that position. You want to set the other party at ease, but not too much. Avoid putting too much pressure on them, but don’t let them think they can walk all over you either. Try to let the other party do more of the talking, listen intently to what they have to say and what their concerns are. This information will help you determine when it’s best to go with the flow or try to redirect the course.
Next up, it’s essential you be as prepared as possible. If you’re the one initiating the deal, you’ll likely have time to prepare, so you’d best use it. In addition to planning out your points and judging your priorities, I encourage you to imagine the other party’s reactions as well as their reasoning. If you can devise a way to meet your needs while also satisfying theirs, you will not only ensure a successful deal, but also increase the odds of continued cooperation in the future. Pay close attention to your methods of preparation and remember them accordingly, as the knowledge will be very useful should you find yourself drawn into a negotiation that must be dealt with in the moment. By applying what you know and trusting your intuition, you should be able to make the most of such moments, perhaps even turning them to your favor.
Finally, always strive to improve. You can’t master an art without plenty of practice, and while experience is the best teacher, it’s always better to train before stepping into the ring. Draft your arguments as well in advance as you can, that way you can rehearse them over and over. Rehearse to yourself in a mirror, or even better, record yourself reading your pitch, that way you can see not only how your talking points sound but also how you appear when delivering them. Identify issues such as weak reasoning or stopping points, and make improvements to tighten your speech. Watch videos online of accomplished speakers so you may study what strategies they employ and add these lessons to your own technique.
Above all, learn from your own mistakes and see that you don’t repeat them. If a question came up during a negotiation that you weren’t prepared for, make sure you have an answer for it next time. You won’t be able to account for everything that may happen, but the better you know your position and that of the other party, the better you’ll be able to handle the unexpected.
I can’t provide you with a step-by-step formula for winning any negotiation because the simple truth is that there isn’t one. Every encounter you go into will have so many variables at play that it will require its own unique approach. What’s more, do not go into negotiations thinking they are something you need to “win.” Some parties simply won’t budge or listen to reason, and turning down a deal with them isn’t necessarily a “loss.” It’s very likely that partnering with such parties wouldn’t be to your benefit in the long run, and you will now be free to pursue a far more agreeable connection with a much more cooperative party instead.
Now take what I’ve taught you about this noble art and go make a masterpiece.