First published on The Coaching Room blog.
For my past few articles I have been pushing the boundaries out, and now it is time to bring it back to applications, and one skill set that can transform life and business is this:
The ability to negotiate more effectively
People like tips, so let’s run with this article taking on that structure right out the gate:
15 TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR NEGOTIATION SKILLS AND GET ‘BETTER’ OUTCOMES
Know ‘negotiation’ is based on one principle: information
The better informed you are, the ‘better’ the decisions you can make.
Access to ‘the best’ information is something with which you are already well familiar – you seek out professional help (lawyers, accountants, investment advisors) in order to get informed.
The higher the quality of information you have, the more likely you will be able to a) know the situation, and b) negotiate a winning deal.
In other words, you need to receive the next piece of information before acting again.
That new information changes the decision tree you then face. In other words, you can be planning ten steps ahead but by the time you get to that stage, you probably should have radically adjusted your map of the situation based on new information.
Being able to be patient enough to simply ‘take one step forward’ at a time is the skill here.
Value is perceived
Let’s say you have a ‘thing’, a house, a car, shares, a lawnmower.
The value of that thing is ‘its Perceived Value’ based upon the market determination of how much one person would pay for that thing i.e. the marginal buyer.
The marginal buyer determines the price.
If you can understand the circumstances of the marginal buyer, you can assess the potential of that single component in the market.
It only takes one person to ‘buy’ for the value to be ‘stated’, but unless the market sustains itself, then all you had was an ‘outlier’ – one person paying something extraordinary.
You are capable of being influenced
Have you ever been to a market stall where they are selling, very often, meat produce?
You will find a crowd gathers round but it takes one person to step forward and say ‘they are in’, which in turn leads to other people hopping on the deal too.
The person who stands there and ‘makes a purchase’ in the marketplace in order to get the sales moving – i.e. creating enthusiasm for other people to buy too, often feeling they will miss out if they don’t. Getting ‘swept along’ happens, so watch out.
Are you being conned? (or conning?)
Unless it is by a magician, no-one likes to be conned. And yet, the way we see surface level information and extrapolate meaning – digging deeper – we are all going to have the wool pulled over our eyes.
Take a look at this Simpson’s Trump meme (using this term loosely):
In one way we ‘want’ there to be magic, we want the Simpsons to be the source of future predictions, but this video is not just clever guesswork. It has been choreographed.
What you think you are seeing is spontaneous, but what we are seeing has been scripted:
The hand raised, the thumbs up, the sign drop – all within a pre-given, convincing context that something ‘magically’ happened. Some people will construct elaborate environments to convince you of things, know where you are being ‘had’.
Not all decisions are pure logic; some are highly emotional.
Wanting the other person to lose is emotional.
Wanting to win is emotional.
And if you want either of these too much, you may well be ignoring the information that is present to you in a more raw manner.
Know your statistics
I am somewhat obsessed with Google Keyword Volume stats.
Assuming it is relevant, and before I negotiate, I get an understanding of the marketplace.
This gives you a form of reality.
Of course, it may well be something else for you, but being the person who digs into the data re: house prices, earnings for a role in an industry, or the price of commodities and component parts will give you a chance to structure a better map.
Treat people as partners
Imagine your lives, your fates (being all Greek mythology about it) are entwined.
If you only negotiate deals that make for happy neighbours, then you truly get win:win.
How information flows across a network
As increasingly we get our news sources, and information more generally online, we need to have trusted suppliers. But in social media in particular, we have seen how fake new stories get served up as fact again and again. To break out of the echo chamber, you need to have an open, global network – Facebook feeds us what we want to see, other platforms remain more open.
When you verify facts through data, or research, you at least can debunk it for your own purposes.
Know who you are negotiating with
As we become part of a digital network, the information that flows in the back channels (i.e. reputational flow) will often influence and even determine the results you get, and you won’t even know it.
If you want to find out ‘who’ you are negotiating with, seek out their social media platforms and look at the language they use, and the nature of conversations they are having with their friends. This will give you a load of data points that you can build into an informational map of how they approach situations, their views, their politics, their hobbies and passions.
You and they have teams
People readily get opinions from others. If you understand ‘their team’ better, you can sit more comfortably as you know who is in the room when you are negotiating.
Speak their language
Know their humour, their pacing, the ‘in jokes’, the memes to which they relate – being ‘one of them’ is a way of making friends.
And don’t fake this, they will know as you will fall down quickly, and in the most subtle of ways if not.
Find your best mode of communication
I hate email for negotiations.
It is not that I cannot write, but that the whole premise is outdated for negotiations (unless they are ‘fact driven’).
I sent an ‘electronic’ letter. I wait for the response. Or not.
I like to talk by phone, or video call. But phone is perfect.
Interestingly enough, video call without a camera on ‘their side’ is not. It jars not to see someone. But if you focus on audio, subtle shifts in voice tone, listening more than talking, you can progress a deal a long way as the feedback loops are tighter.
How about you? What is your strength?
Look to move people towards the mode that is acceptable to them, but one at which you are adept. I’ve taught telephone skills for years, and written sales and customer service scripts for billion dollar revenue businesses. Phone works still, when done right.
If you do, and they ‘feel something’, you will lose all future recommendations that could otherwise flow freely.
Finally, saving the best til last:
Ask, “what frame of reference am I buying into here”
As ‘The Coaching Room Director’ Joseph Scott says:
“When it comes to negotiating, the person who set the frame wins.”
This is where Neuro-Semantic NLP comes to the forefront of the skill set.
If you don’t have these skills in your negotiation tool kit, you could well be bring a knife to a gunfight and you don’t even know it. (btw, that was a frame of reference too – one just for fun though)
Technology can connect us, but it can also divide us into camps. The trick is to see beyond any short term game play, and to negotiate fair deals – reversing the risk people perceive, and generally allowing this new transparent world to make us better people. The choices we make now are much more conscious than they were, or at least the availability of that consciousness is more apparent as the technology arises.
See you next week!