For many people, just the sound of the word negotiation makes them cringe. Some immediately break out in a cold sweat at the thought of having to step up and negotiate for the things they want and need.
While some people have no problem advocating for others, when it comes to pushing for their own needs (negotiating for a raise, obtaining the best price on a purchase or standing up for what they want in a partnership), they stumble.
These four steps can help any person reframe the art of negotiation to achieve greater success and happiness in all aspects of life and business:
1. Reframe thoughts about the meaning of the word negotiation. Instead of viewing it as the inevitable conflict and adversity scenario, see negotiation for what it truly is: a great opportunity to collaborate, problem solve and arrive at solutions that satisfy all parties involved.
Do this while paying close attention to what is being said, as well as what’s not said. Listen for hidden assumptions and unrealistic expectations and pay attention to any personality traits of the other party that may affect the end result. Approach time at the negotiation table with a positive, engaged mind-set.
2. Be clear about desires. No hemming and hawing and “I don’t know” allowed. It turns out the old adage is true: If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Research from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that a gender gap persists — with men making more than women — because women just don’t ask for higher salaries. Even in personal relationships, women often do not speak up about what they want directly and instead turn complaints inward to negative self-talk or outward to friends in a complaint fest.
Being clear means coming prepared. Do research, expect possible adversity and prepare possible solutions. Taking personal responsibility for success requires preparation.
No one can advocate better for a desired end than the person who’s directly affected. Sure this may be scary at the outset, but the confidence gained while standing up and speaking out will be worth it.
3. Fake it till making it. Confidence starts from within, but sometimes a little behavior modification is required to arrive at the right state of mind. Think of the athlete who’s getting ready for the big game. Those who are successful always include mental preparation as a huge part of the pregame plan. Start by visualizing the process of negotiation with a positive result.
Remember negotiation is not the same as confrontation. Advocating for one’s self is true leadership at its finest.
Always embrace communication with those on the other side of the table with confidence and a smile, knowing that having clear goals and the right intention will lead to the best end result.
4. Start with the positive by building bridges and finding commonality. Whether seeking a raise or trying to have needs met in other areas of life, use words like “we” and “us” versus “I” pronoun. Studies have shown that deals are most often won using language that builds bridges and that demonstrates mutual benefit. Using communal bridge-building language does not devalue a person’s strengths; it actually extols them. The best deal is one in which all parties are heard and their values honored.
Kate McKay is a transformational speaker, coach, fitness guru and entrepreneur whose passion is to spread her message of living a life of abundance. She founded Gold Siena/Gold Party New England and Kate McKay LLC, headquartered in Newburyport, Mass.