Negotiation Tips: How to Get What You Want

For me, being a good negotiator is one of the cornerstones to success in business. Good negotiations skills can come in handy in many different situations that one encounters in his/her personal or professional life.

In the business world, good negotiations skills can be the difference between success and failure. Individually, good negotiation skills can get you what you want. From a business or an organization’s perspective, the ability to negotiate is so crucial, it can end up being the difference between companies that grow and those that soon falter and go out of business!

Good businessmen and entrepreneurs are forced to wear many different hats, exhibiting  good negotiations skills is one of the qualities that they absolutely must possess possess. It’s their bread and butter, it’s what they do!

Working professionals, people in sales, and generally everyone else out there needs to be able to negotiate, because if you think about it, people are forced to negotiate on a daily basis: from negotiating deals, asking for a raise, selling merchandise, negotiating over bills, buying things at your local market, applying for a loan, raising finance, and so on.

Negotiating is, in fact, a part of our lives.

Here are a few negotiation tips straight from the experts that should get you what you want, and allow you to become better at getting what you want while creating a win-win situation for everyone involved:


Do Your Homework

Do your homework before you go into a negotiation. Look at the market prices as well as the going rates. Research what other places (competitors) are offering the same things for. Depending on the situation, study the financials and the balance sheets in order to get a better picture of the predicted performance of whatever it is that you might be negotiating on. Alternatively, have someone else (like a lawyer or a financial consultant) look at them. Remember that the more information and intel you have beforehand, the more well-equipped you would be at the table, which might just be the thing that gives you the upper-hand and tip the table in your favor.


Listen First

Listening is perhaps the most important skill for any negotiator. When negotiating, take a step back and listen to what the other party has to say. Let them finish without interrupting them. Never assume things. This is one of the first points that Ed Brodow makes in his book ‘Negotiation Boot Camp’. Let the other part finish, and try making mental notes (or actual notes if you want) of some of the essential points that are made by the other party. Brodow says that not only will listening allow you to know what the other side is thinking (and hence tailor your points accordingly), it will also show the other party that you respect them which will help build trust. In addition to just listening to their words or what they’re speaking, use things such as tone and body language to your advantage. According to Victor Kiam: “A negotiator should observe everything. You must be part Sherlock Holmes, part Sigmund Freud.”


Avoid Upspeaking

Ever notice how you lift up certain words at the end of sentences, which makes it sound as if you’re asking a question? That is upspeak. Avoid it during negotiations. Be firm, and keep a calm, neutral tone. According to Jim Camp, the author of the book ‘Start with No: The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know’ using upspeak can make someone less likely to accept your request. He says: “It conveys that you’re willing to move a lot if they don’t like it. When you make an offer on something, believe in it.”


Think win-win

If you go into a negotiation with a win-win mentality, you’ll often end up accomplishing just that. Normally, people think of negotiating as a ‘win at all costs’ situation, in order to get what they want. This is the wrong mindset to go in with. As Ed Brodow and many other experts will tell you, the secret to a successful negotiation is trying for a win-win. Instead of negotiation against someone, focus on the problem together, and make sure that you let the other party know that you want everyone to win.  This way, both parties at the table win and everyone gets what they want at the end of the day. As Harvey Robbins puts it: “Place a higher priority on discovering what a win looks like for the other person.”


Nothing Personal, Only Business

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.” says Brian Koslow, an expert on cash flow and wealth creation for individuals and small businesses and the author of 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One). When you negotiate with someone, talk business and keep it strictly to what’s important: making sure that both parties emerge as winners (see point above).“The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts” according to Howard Baker.


Straight to the Point

Avoid telling long and winding stories, and get straight to the point. Norm Brodsky, famed entrepreneur and author of

Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs 

 says: “The important thing is for you to be completely truthful about your situation. Don’t make up stories, just tell the truth.” Being upfront, honest and bang-on-point fast-tracks the negotiation process, helps build trust and credibility, and above all, close the negotiations successfully.


The ‘Count-to-Ten’ Technique

Not getting what you want? If the other party refuses to budge, it might be a good idea to use the ‘count to 10’ technique. Bill Coleman says: “This is a classic negotiation technique. It’s a gentle, soft indication of your disapproval and a great way to keep negotiating. Count to 10. By then, the other person usually will start talking and may very well make a higher offer.” When you stay quiet and it starts getting uncomfortable, it forces the other party to say something, just to break the silence and the awkwardness.”Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may last induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously” says Lance Morrow. And yes, this works!


Salvage Something Out of a Losing Negotiation

When all other options have been exhausted, walking away from the table might be your only option. The fact is that no negotiation technique is fool-proof, and people will say no. Use this moment to try getting something out of the negotiation, and find ways to make the deal work. Don’t cave to the other party’s demands, as this is a clear sign of weakness  Remember win-win means that you are in it to win it as well. Don’t give up on the negotiation or the deal, as Henry Boyle says: “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.” Now might be a good time to give that one last shot! Alternatively, you might also want to consider letting someone else take over the negotiation.

  • Harry says:

    Nice collection of tips. I would also add couple more – Do research on the person or business you are negotiating with and learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power and in negotiation it is even more so. Also, know your BATNA (Best Alternate to No Agreement). Essentially, it tells you at what point you will walk away from the table. BATNA will help you understand how far you can down you can compromise and come up with win-win ideas for both parties.

    • Chris Anderson says:

      Excellent addition, thanks!

      As mentioned in the post, it is essential to do your homework. Having valuable intel on the party you’re supposed to go into negotiations with might just be the thing that tips the negotiation in your favor. The point about BATNA is very interesting as well.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Teepu says:

    Really awesome post! As a negotiator, I’ve always tried to negotiate a win-win deal so that both parties would end up happy. Upspeaking – this was honestly enlightening. I haven’t really realized until now that I do try to upspeak sometimes, next time I’ll be more firm with my tone! Thank you so much for sharing in Bizsugar!

    • Chris Anderson says:

      Heh yeah, most of us don’t realize it when we upspeak but our tone (along with other body language signals) can actually have a big bearing on the outcome of the negotiation. Glad you liked the article!

  • Martin Lindeskog says:

    As an experienced purchaser who have been done several of negotiations with supplies for many years, I recognize most of the tips in the post and the comments, e.g., BATNA (Best Alternate to No Agreement). I have for example participated in a three day course on how to negotiate from a weak position and learning about the “Negotiators Dilemma” and the Harvard method of principled negotiation.

    My personal take on a business negotiation is that you should view it as an exchange of values and act as according to the trader principle.

  • […] Jobs was always known as a hard-nosed negotiator, famous for racking up the wins whenever he found himself at the negotiation table. Whether it was book publishers, or negotiating with the movie industry or music record labels, Jobs was all about results. This was a guy who knew how to get what he wanted when it came to negotiations. […]

  • >