Five ways to negotiate your way through life

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michelle gibbingsIt’s pretty likely you negotiate something every day.

It may be a discussion with your partner as to who’s cooking dinner or picking up the children from school.  In a work context, it could be a discussion with your boss about a pay rise, or having some time off work.

When a negotiation doesn’t go well for you the impact can be huge.  For example, if you are buying a house and you aren’t able to negotiate a good price, you’ll end up paying much more than the house is worth.

Similarly, if you don’t have the confidence to state what you want during a negotiation you’ll find yourself agreeing to things you don’t want to do.

Neither situation makes for a happy and fulfilled life. Want to get better at negotiating?  Here’s five ways to negotiate your way through life:

1. Know your mindset
Negotiating is mentally taxing. Your mind will be pushed and pulled in many directions. Strive to understand the mindset you are adopting, and how you are likely to think, feel and react throughout the process.

If you go in with the perspective – “I’m right. They’re wrong”, and are not willing to find common ground, you’re unlikely to make much progress.

It is much more productive to approach the negotiation from a basis of mutual respect and a willingness to consider different ideas and options.

2. Understand the ‘wants’
Know what you want from the negotiation, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.  It can be a case of ‘don’t ask – don’t get’.  So be deliberate about your needs and when you ask.  Timing can be crucial, as a negotiation's starting position can anchor the remainder of the conversation.

Take the time to understand the options available and how your proposal could satisfy the other person’s needs.  Additionally, be clear on your non-negotiables and what you are willing to give up.

3. Get ready
Think about how the negotiation process will unfold, and the steps required to secure
agreement. Consider each of these steps, in advance of the discussion, and be curious as to how they may play out.  Running through possible scenarios and outcomes will enable you to better respond as issues or objections are raised during the discussion.

Importantly, seek to understand the other people involved - their operating style, agenda, needs and what they care about.  The more you understand those involved, the greater insights you’ll have into what they are likely to support or reject.

4. Value relationshipscat and baby
Negotiating effectively is much easier if you have a good relationship with the other people involved. So build your network early and always take the long term view.  You want both parties to the negotiation to walk away from the process with their dignity intact and feeling as though they have done well.  If someone feels ill-treated through a negotiation, even if an agreement has been reached, there will be longer term ramifications.

5. Have resolve
Negotiations often take unexpected turns, and it’s very easy for the situation to escalate.

You want to be able to respond mindfully, rather than reactively.  So, don’t negotiate when you are tired, and if you find your mind racing, focus on breathing, and breathing deeply.  This provides time for your nerves to relax and your heart rate to slow down, making it easier to reflect and respond calmly.

Remember, change happens. Make it work for you.

Article by Michelle Gibbings

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