Preparing to Successfully Negotiate in English
- Posted by: E-planet Educational Services
Some people love negotiating, but I think it’s fair to say that most people hate it, even in their own language, let alone in English.
This is because we fear that we might be asking too much and might be turned down on our offer. We also fear that we will have to go to great lengths to prove why our offer should be accepted. This then turns a discussion into something that seems like a conflict, which we like to avoid, so then we back down.
You might think that you don’t need to negotiate but there are many areas where you need to negotiate every day, and those that can negotiate easily and successfully, often get more opportunities that those that don’t or can’t. Here are some examples of when you might have to negotiate:
- Asking for a raise at work
- Buying or selling a home
- Renting or leasing a property
- Negotiating with a supplier
- Agreeing on contract terms
These are just some of the instances when you need to negotiate. The real key to a successful negotiation is preparation. So how can you prepare?
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Preparing for a negotiation is really the only effective way that you can increase your chances of negotiating successfully. You’ll be able to play out different scenarios, ask and answer challenging questions and present the best case possible that shows the other party the benefits to them of what you are proposing.
Know What You Want and Why
By analysing what you want and why, you’ll be able to communicate this to the other party/person. If you want a promotion or salary increase, you should think why you want this and what it means to you. You can’t just go to your boss and say “I want a raise.” It is highly unlikely that they will just say yes without asking any additional questions. You are going to have to say why you want it and you are going to have to persuade the other party/person that it is mutually beneficial.
Before even going into a negotiation here are some good questions to ask yourself:
- What do I / my company want from this negotiation? What do we want to achieve?
- Why is this result important?
- What will happen if I am not successful in reaching my goal?
- Are there any compromises or alternatives I’m willing to accept?
- Is there anything I’m not willing to accept
- What compromises could I propose?
- What relationship do I have with the other party and do I want to maintain a relationship with them in the future?
- What are the consequences of winning/losing this negotiation?
- How should everyone feel when the negotiation is over?
All of these questions are extremely important because in most situations you’ll want to maintain a good relationship with the other party in the future and therefore the outcome of the negotiation should be as close to a win-win situation (a situation where both sides gain something from an agreement) as possible.
The Other Side
As well as preparing for what you want to do and say in a negotiation situation, you should also try and look at it from the other side’s perspective. That way you can counter their arguments, suggest possible mutually beneficial alternatives and establish common ground. To see things from the other party’s perspective you should ask yourself:
- What does he/she want from this negotiation? What are their goals and needs?
- Why is this goal important for them?
- What will happen if they are not successful in reaching their goal?
- What compromises might they accept?
- Is there any alternative that is definitely off-limits (unacceptable)?
By considering all of the above, you’ll be able to tailor your arguments specifically to their needs and explain why something that is good for you, is also good for them. You’ll also be able to think of alternative arrangements that might be more in-line with their goals. Plus, you’ll also be to see that there might be some compromises that are completely unacceptable to them. The last point is especially important because if you ask for something that is completely unacceptable this could lead to a breakdown in negotiations.
Trust and Relationships
Analysing what you want and identifying the needs of the other side puts you in a good position to create strategies that build a strong relationship with the other side. To create trust and build a relationship there are a few strategies to adopt that will help the negotiation end in a win-win situation.
- Honesty is the Best Policy – Being honest, genuine and confident about what you want and why makes the other party confident in you and makes you trustworthy.
- Creating a Connection – Negotiating is part of most relationships but the relationship is not built on negotiations. You should try to find a common like, want or goal that helps both sides connect with each other.
- Listen In – Listening closely to the other person, they will be more likely to open up to you if they feel that you are really listening to what they have to say.
- Remember – Remembering big and small details about them and about what they have said also creates a good relationship and creates trust.
A raise – an increase in salary.
Win-win – a situation or outcome benefits both or all parties.
Mutually beneficial – a situation/effort/service/relationship that has a positive effect to both people or all parties involved (similar to win-win).
Small talk – polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters.
Party – a person or people forming one side in an agreement or dispute.
Back down – withdraw from a negotiation, fight or argument.
Compromise – Reaching agreement by each side making concessions or lowering their standards to less than what is desirable but still acceptable.
Off-limits – Unacceptable and not even to be considered.
Trustworthy – Able to be relied upon to be honest and truthful, someone/something you can have confidence in.