6 Negotiation Secrets

1. What do YOU really want?
The most common mistake people make before a big purchase, going on an interview or entering a new relationship is neglecting to ask what their objectives are. It may seem scary to really commit to your goals. After all, what if you don’t achieve them? Yet the simple truth is if you don’t set your intentions, you put yourself in a reactive position. You’ll be more likely to settle for a deal that falls short of what you really want or need.

Being proactive on the other hand, is the biggest sign you can send the universe (or your spouse/employer/salesperson) that you’re solid and sure about what you’re asking for. So know your goals before you sit down at the bargaining table. Whether it’s a better title, more help with the household tasks, or getting a specific product for a low price, you’ll be more likely to get it if you know it’s what you’re after from the start!

2. Aim high
Any great negotiator knows that you have to leave room to bargain. This means you need to aim high – higher than what you expect to receive. Why start high, you wonder (particularly since honesty is the best policy)? It leaves you room to come down – and appear more reasonable.

3. Stay calm, cool and collected
Negotiation can seem so scary for some of us because it’s a confrontational practice. However, getting what you want doesn’t have to be that way. While your gut is to feel guilty, you shouldn’t feel like you’re doing anything wrong by having the discussion – you’re not! So, regardless of the subject matter or the person on the other side of the equation, adopt a relaxed but confident posture. Stay pleasant and make eye contact, too. Remember this is a transaction, not a personal argument. Remain calm no matter how heated it gets. This diffuses the situation and promotes your objectives by showing your strengths as a reasonable, informed, and level headed person who knows what they want and (is willing to compromise)!

4. Do your homework (and stick to it)
You have to know your end game before you begin negotiations. You need a leg to stand on, sure. Doing your research means more than asking yourself a few questions! It means knowing the market value of your skills, the item you’re buying, what you bring to the table, and your bottom line. Know when to hold and when to fold.

To negotiate with power means knowing your bottom line and sticking to it. It’s important to be reasonable, but if you change your mind because you’re not getting your way, you’re not doing yourself any favors. In fact, you’re failing toward your goal and selling yourself short.

5. Practice, practice, practice
You’ve heard the saying “How do you make it to Carnegie Hall? Practice.” Well the same is true about bargaining. If you’re new to this art, you need to work on it before you are any good. So, ask your friends or family members to role play with you. Try different strategies and see if you get different results!

6. Never burn bridges
As hardcore as driving a good bargain can be, don’t ever blow up at the person you’re dealing with or end on a sour note. Instead, do your best to walk away amicably – even if you haven’t reached a compromise. You never know when you may run into that person again, or if another deal may be possible at another time. So it’s always better to hold your head high… plus, it’s good for your karma. You give what you get, after all. And gloating or being a sore loser won’t do you any favors next time around.

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