Magazine article Public Finance

How to Succeed in Negotiations

Magazine article Public Finance

How to Succeed in Negotiations

Article excerpt

As the US negotiation expert Chester Karrass says: ' In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.'

Almost every aspect of your working life is negotiable, whether it is suppliers looking to hike prices, services that need to be changed or staff requesting pay rises or promotion opportunities. In recessionary times, this can work in your favour, as the pressure is higher than ever to get the most out of relationships and realise value from deals.

Understanding the art of negotiation and communication will considerably increase your chances of a positive and sustainable outcome in such a range of circumstances.

And there's a lot more to it than well-known tricks of the trade such as open-ended questioning and keeping your powder dry. Here are a few key principles that will stand you in good stead whatever you're negotiating. These tried and tested techniques have been distilled into ten top tips to help you perfect this crucial, and all too often undervalued, art.

1 PREPARATION AND PLANNING

You can't wing negotiations.

You've got to know your authence, what's in it for them, what do they want and what questions you need to ask. The first step is to understand what's driving the other party and where their priorities really lie. It is not always about price. Think about relationships, added value items, tasters' and even introductions to other senior personnel in the organisation. Find someone who has had a similar encounter - where were the weak spots or the push buttons?

2 TAILOR YOUR RESPONSE

Figure out what type of individuals you are dealing with and talk to them in a language they recognise. Make an initial assessment of a person: are they formal, precise and analytical? If so, they will need a lot of data before they feel comfortable making a decision. Are they purposeful, demanding and competitive - could winning be more important than the outcome? If so, you might have to have some 'giveaways' to coax them. Some people are caring, relaxed and patient. They don't like to rush things and they want to know more about you. So ensure there is some social interaction beforehand. Are they warm, expressive, sociable and often persuasive? They might try to take you off point and lull you into a comfort zone before going for the kill, taking you off guard.

3 LISTEN CAREFULLY - DON'T JUST HEAR

Remember you learn more and put yourself in a better position if you talk less and really listen more. This is the best way to understand who you are up against. Always start by asking the other party what they want to get out of the negotiation If possible, have an initial face-to-face meeting to discuss agendas before getting into the specifics at the final meeting. Remember: the more you say, the more you give away. Exercise control, be quiet. Ask lots of open questions. Let them talk while you listen and take notes.

4 CAREFUL, YOUR ATTITUDE IS SHOWING

We give away 55% of what's going on in our head through our body, and face-to-face is usually the preferred medium for negotiation. So you need to take the right mental approach to control your body language. If you feel weak or intimidated, it will be hard to cover this up and will set the wrong tone from the outset Even the most experienced negotiator should be reminded and encouraged to think of negotiation as a factual discussion Don't lapse into emotional language or personal circumstances. …

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