Business Skills: How To Negotiate Your Way To Success In English

by | May 10, 2018 | 0 comments

You might be part of a team discussing a huge contract, or on the phone trying to get a good deal on office supplies, or in your manager’s office asking for a raise. Negotiation happens every day, even in your personal life.

 

Hands up to those of you who spend endless hours negotiating with their teenagers to clean their room? If you can win these deals, you’re invincible!

 

If we’re honest, most of us don’t enjoy negotiating. That’s because we associate it with competition and unless you relish competing every single day, you probably try and avoid it.

And yet, negotiation is another way of communicating – explaining the logic and benefits of a position, convincing others that your idea makes sense, showing people how a decision will generate a desired return, helping someone understand the benefits of a strategy.

 

There are steps we can take to make the whole negotiation process more fun and successful. In this lesson (#65) from Wednesdays with EWAT, I share 11 ways you can negotiate better with anyone. The ideas are taken from Jeff Haden’s article in Inc.com.

 

In this post, I want to address what you need to do before you start negotiating.

 

Do Your Homework

 

It’s essential you enter negotiations well prepared. The more research you do, the better the deal. And the more confident you’ll feel.


Learn as much as you can about the other party –  their negotiating style and position.

Style – how do they negotiate?  Formally or informally?

What’s their personality? Are they analytical or emotional; aggressive or passive?

The last thing you want to do is enter a negotiation behaving informally and aggressively when they’re the opposite. That would be disastrous.

The different styles are often connected to culture.

For instance, the Germans, Indians and Russians have a more formal and analytical style of negotiation.

 

Knowing the style beforehand would put you in a much stronger position.

Knowing how they make decisions would also assist you. For example, do they take a consensus or ‘top dog’ approach? Does the person you’re dealing with have the authority to make the final decision?


Understanding the other person’s position is crucial. What exactly do they want and need? What are they willing or unwilling to concede (give up)?

How do you get this information? Get this data by analysing their business situation and previous deals. You could find out what worked and didn’t work then.

Everyone goes in to a negotiation with a list of priorities. If you have some background information you are in a much stronger position.

For example, you know they can’t play much with price, but are flexible on timeline. If you know this, you have power. You could negotiate on delivery times to suit you.

If they can’t make a deal with you, are there others? Or are you all they have? If that’s the case, you’re in a powerful position.

How time sensitive is the deal? Can they wait? Or not?



Understanding their position helps you understand your position.

If you’re negotiating price, make sure you are clear about what’s acceptable to you, what’s your ideal and what’s non-negotiable.

 

In other words, decide on your target price, your dream price and your reservation price.

 

Before you set your target price, make sure you know your worth. Don’t undersell yourself. Research shows that if you, as the seller, make the first offer (anchor), and set it higher than what you normally would (be more aggressive),  you’re more likely to get a higher settlement price.

 

Why?

 

According to this research, “high-anchor offers lead buyers to focus on a negotiated item’s positive attributes.”

 

I can totally see that.

Imagine you’re an architect and you offer your services at, say $50 an hour when the average is around $150.  You’ll get a few people who’ll buy, but you’ll probably get far more wondering why you’re so much cheaper than others. They’ll think you’re not as qualified as you should be or far less experienced and worse still, they’ll wonder what you’re hiding.

If, however, you offer your services at $250 an hour, your potential client will view you as someone who knows their value and are proud of it.


There’s an expression in English that says: “success breeds success.” People like to surround themselves with people who’re successful and confident in their abilities. It makes them feel good.

 

An ‘aggressive’ first offer also allows you to offer concessions and still reach an agreement that’s much better than your alternatives.

 

One of the best predictors of negotiator satisfaction with an outcome is the number and size of the concessions extracted from an opponent. By making an aggressive first offer and giving your opponent the opportunity to “extract” concessions from you, you’ll not only get a better outcome, but you’ll also increase the other side’s satisfaction.

Taking the example above, your client will respect your price but may not be prepared to pay your fee. However, if he or she can negotiate some concessions, for example, extra services for that price, they will feel immensely satisfied with themselves.

 

As one of my fellow teachers commented in Wednesday’s lesson, “A successful negotiation is when both parties feel they have achieved success, feel appreciated, feel the other side was fair, feel the other side will keep the agreement and finally, will deal with each other again.”

 

That’s what successful negotiation is all about. Forging strong, valuable business relationships and treating each other with respect and as equals.

 

The question is: can you do this in English? A resounding YES.

 

The most difficult part of negotiations is NOT doing your homework. Once you have information about the other side; you understand their position; you know your worth and what you want and you know what you’re willing to concede, your negotiating position will be infinitely stronger.

 

That, in turn, will boost your confidence in communicating your position in English. Trust me, the language will flow.

 

 

What’s been your most successful negotiation to date?

 

What made it successful? Do you have other tips to get the deal you desire? Share your experience and tips with me in the comments box below.

 

Ciao for now

Shanthi

 

PS: If you found this post helpful and feel that your friends and colleagues would benefit, please share it with them.

 

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