Negotiation is a valuable business and communication skill for any professional. Negotiating with someone else doesn’t just happen in an office or a boardroom sitting across a table from someone else. We are constantly negotiating as we navigate our daily lives at work and home. Sure, different situations require distinct negotiation and communication tactics and the stakes vary widely from one negotiation to the next, but the core principles of the best negotiators stay the same. That’s one of the key lessons learned last week at the annual conference of the Society of Marketing Professional Services’ Virginia Chapter. There were a number of insightful presentations with great takeaways, but the one that stood out the most was “The Cartography of Negotiation” by Scott Wayne of The Frontier Project. Scott outlined tools and tips to enhance your negotiating skills. Here are my three biggest lessons:
- Do Your Homework: When you’re negotiating with someone, you’ll have additional leverage if you conduct thorough research on them. Even simple online and social media searches can yield a plethora of information to help you better understand the person and his or her values, motivations, and priorities.
- Empathize: Building on the first lesson of research, use the information you’ve gathered to be more in tune with someone’s situation and perspective. By truly putting yourself in someone else’s proverbial shoes, you’ll better understand them and recognize how to position your request, argument, deal, etc. in a way that will wins over that person. Even simple observations of those around you can help. Before diving into a “negotiation,” take a step back and spend some time carefully considering the other person’s situation and stress points. Ask yourself, “How can I make this person’s life easier?”
- Frame the Conversation: The “battle lines” of any negotiation can be drawn early and it’s critical that you set the frame of the conversation as much as possible. You’ll be more successful if you can set the course of the discussion. How do you do accomplish this? One simple, yet highly effective, tool is a meeting agenda. It allows you to frame the conversation and set a level of control from the beginning.
These lessons can apply to business development, project pitch meetings, internal discussions, closing a new deal or round of financing, ongoing conversations with existing clients, and so much more. What’s so valuable is that these three tips aren’t unique to certain profession or sector. Most importantly, learning to improve your ability to empathize with others can have a profound impact on your daily interactions with others. I hope your find this blog post helpful and good luck in your next negotiation!