Negotiation is such a core part of what we do, but I am not a guru on Negotiation. Luckily I have a very good friend that is. I asked her to give me the secrets to mastering negotiation and she was happy to oblige.
Tanya Edlington has negotiated everything from wages deals worth millions of dollars to car parking arrangements where she lives because she knows EVERYTHING is negotiable. She has learnt everything she knows by doing it and learning from her mistakes. Tanya believes the art of conversation is important to all kinds of relationships. She’s a mediator accredited through LEADR, and is a sought after facilitator. Tanya uses her skills as an actress to help everyone from doctors to corporate managers develop their face to face communication skills.
Here are Tanya’s Top Tips to Negotiate Anything!
If you follow these every time, regardless of what you’re negotiating or who you are representing, you are bound to have a successful outcome.
- Know what you want. It seems obvious, but it’s also often the thing that people neglect. If you don’t know exactly what you want, you’re not ready to negotiate.
- Know how what you want can be packaged. Sometimes it’s easy to miss a great opportunity to settle because it looks a bit different from what you were thinking. Be creative and open minded as you consider offers made by the other side. Think about how offers can help you get what you want, rather than focussing on the shortcomings.
- Make sure the people with authority to settle or reach agreement are in the room. There’s nothing worse than putting in the hard work and reaching a great outcome, only to find that the people you’ve been talking to aren’t the decision-makers. I only negotiate with decision-makers. If the other side can’t do this, then they’re not committed to negotiation.
- Spend some time agreeing on the rules of engagement before you start negotiating on substantive matters. Apart from being useful to set up rules of engagement, this helps everyone practise talking to each other. If I’m negotiating with several people, I look for clues about communication styles, power relationships, thinking preferences and the dynamics within the group. I include issues of confidentiality (where relevant) and also communication with stakeholders (who, what, when and how).
- Don’t leave the room without a written agreement. Whatever I am negotiating, the last thing I do before anyone leaves the room is to write down what we’ve already agreed. I write this summary together. I’m not talking about a fully drafted document! I’m talking about an agreed written record that reduces the risk of people walking away with different interpretations or an intention to wriggle out of something. Electronic whiteboards are really handy for this. If there isn’t one I take a photo and email to everyone. Once everyone agrees on what is written down, I then distribute copies. I include the date, time and names of everyone in the room and who they represent. This process is also clarifiying and can often flush out anything that isn’t really agreed between the parties.
Putting it all together, approach your negotiations with your creative problem solving muscles flexed and view the other team as useful collaborators with expertise to contribute to the solving of the problem. I find that this approach means the relationships with the people remain intact – sometimes even grow – and people are more willing to keep going when it’s tough.
Lastly, I make sure that my thoughts, words and deeds are in alignment so that I am operating with integrity, regardless of who I’m working with and what we’re trying to achieve.
If you need help with your negotiations, please contact Tanya. She is sure to help you achieve the outcome you want.
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