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Negotiation is a Part of Life; Learn to Do it Well
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Negotiation is a Part of Life; Learn to Do it Well

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About This Lesson

You may think that negotiations take place primarily in boardrooms and sales offices. But that could not be further from the truth. Negotiating is a part of life, and if you learn to do it well, it can be an empowering experience.

Why You Need to Learn

You have to work for what you want in life. Yet you probably know people who work hard and still do not get what they deserve. That is because working hard is not enough. You also have to ask for what you want. Yet you will not get everything you ask for. This is where negotiation comes into play.

Your life is filled with negotiation. You make little trade-offs with yourself from the moment the alarm goes off in the morning: Sleep ten more minutes and skip the second cup of coffee. You bargain with your partner: One of you will pick up the kids while the other grabs milk and eggs on the way home. There are deals at work: Help your colleague with this project and he will include you on his team next time. Give your vendor the higher price she requested but demand quicker delivery. 

Some of these small negotiations may seem insignificant, but they end up shaping your days, your career and eventually large chunks of your life. In some ways, they also set the stage for grander negotiations, such as whether you will get a promotion and how much of a raise will go with it. Because you negotiate so often in life, it is important to learn how to do it properly.

How You Can Learn

As with most any skill in life, you can learn by trial and error. There is something to be said for jumping in with both feet and finding out how it goes. Unfortunately, this can lead to costly errors for your company, your colleagues and yourself. It may be better to begin learning negotiation by observing others who do it well. At any company, there are bound to be people in the sales or finance departments who always seem to get what they want. Watch them work their magic and ask for advice. What works for them may work for you.

If you prefer a more systematic approach, you can take classes in negotiation. Investing in negotiation training can pay off in every area of your life. Several companies specialize in negotiation instruction; for best results, find one that offers customized programs, simulation training and post-course reinforcement.

What You Need to Learn

Many things influence how each negotiation goes, such as your personality and the decision-making power your firm grants you. Each situation is slightly different from the last. Here are a few guiding principles to get you started.

·      Know your goals. Before entering a negotiation, figure out your ideal outcome. Then determine the worst offer you would find acceptable. Your final deal should fall somewhere in the middle. 

·      Design a Plan B. If you cannot negotiate a deal that meets the requirements described above, what next? Figure out what alternatives are left if you, or the other party, walk away.

·      Create a relationship. Negotiations do not need to be adversarial, especially if you are laying the groundwork for an ongoing business relationship. Be pleasant. Make the other party want to please you.

·      Ask questions. You need to understand what the other party wants.

·      Listen to the answers. Use effective listening skills to really grasp the other party’s motivations and priorities.

·      Give a little. Perhaps the other party has prioritized something you are willing to give. That gives you a perfect opportunity to show that you are cooperative and reasonable.

·      Get a lot. The final outcome of the negotiation is significantly influenced by the first offer. Be first to put an offer on the table and you put yourself in a position of strength.

Naturally, these seven guidelines are just a start. There is a great deal to learn about successful negotiations. The sooner you begin your negotiation education, the better.

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Negotiation is a Part of Life; Learn to Do it Well.docx

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September 8, 2020
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