When you are new to the business world, it can be uncomfortable when you’re in a situation where you need to negotiate. It may seem that everyone else around you is more experienced, both in the business and in negotiation. There are skills you can learn to help you gain confidence in negotiations. These abilities will be valuable for you the rest of your career, as no matter what position you are in, you will be called upon to negotiate from time to time. Spending time learning these techniques now can be a good career move.
Whether you are the junior person at the negotiating table or the most senior, it is always wise to treat the other party with respect. You have to show understanding for what they say and acknowledge the validity of their concerns. When you are respectful towards them, it is most likely that they will show you the same consideration, and everyone will get along better. Avoid making disparaging remarks, or jokes that put someone else down. Keep the tone friendly and professional.
Think about “we” not “I”
When you make a lot of statements about what “I want” or “I need”, you are engaging in the type of negotiation that views the two sides as rivals. Instead, try approaching things in terms of “we” statements. If you use verbiage like “we can reach an agreement”, it puts the focus on the fact that both sides want to accomplish a deal. You can reach a deal that benefit both of you, not just your side. Even if they have much greater experience at this than you, they also want to reach a deal.
Avoid rookie moves
Most young people are not used to negotiations. This means they’re susceptible to making a lot of mistakes. To win negotiations, you have to avoid silly errors and focus on the big picture. Here are some tips for newbies:
- Watch your body language – your body language says a lot in a negotiation. It conveys poise and determination, or fear and anxiety
- Look opponents in the eye – don’t be shy, opponents want to feel that someone is actually listening
- Shut up and listen – if you’re too nervous to speak, shut up and listen. Eventually, your turn to speak will come and you want to be able to say meaningful things
- Do your homework – know your business and theirs, too.
Focus on results
Try to focus on the long term results that both sides want to achieve, and how you can deliver value for both parties. Don’t make the negotiation about the people involved. You want to focus on the facts, and avoid getting things emotional. Try not to take anything personally. Even if this is very important for you and your company, you will do a better job negotiating if you stay rational and not emotional. Focus on the issue, not yourself.
Share your concerns
If you have a specific concern about a potential problem with the deal, go ahead and share it with the other party. This gives them a chance to address your concern, in order to keep the discussions moving forward. If you never voice your issues, they may not know what it is that is holding up the deal. Go ahead and tell them, and then you can work together on a resolution.
Use body language to engage
Your body language can send subtle yet powerful messages to the other person, whether either of you are consciously aware of those messages or not. If you lean back or cross your arms, it distances you from the discussion and closes you off. Instead, try moving forward in your chair, leaning on the table, and making eye contact. These signs show that you are interested, open, and engaged in the proceedings.
Winning negotiations as a recent graduate is not something impossible to do. Whether you’re negotiating a salary raise, a job, or any other kind of business deal, always remember the basic rules. Be honest, do your homework, leave your emotions aside, and never give up. As long as you can do that, mastering the art of negotiation won’t seem like something impossible to achieve anymore.