How To Be A Better Negotiator

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Whether you realise it or not, everything that you do in life involves some sort of negotiation. You negotiate with your manager about your salary and benefits, your wife about where to go on vacation, when you buy a car, sell an idea or solve problems in a meeting, all of it involves some sort of negotiating.

Negotiation is a problem-solving process in which two or more people decide to discuss their differences in an attempt to reach a joint decision about their common concerns. It requires all the parties to identify the issues, educate each other about their needs and interests, and reach a final agreement.

Negotiation is a very real and very vital part of your working life, so it is very important to be able to master some basic negotiation skills so that you can fare better in all the situations that involve negotiation at work.

In this podcast we are going to talk about six ways that you can become a better negotiator at work:

  • Be specific about what you want from the negotiations
  • create a bargaining zone (ZOPA)
  • What you are willing to trade or concede
  • What is your BATNA?
  • Understand the four phases in every negotiation
  • Be wary of dirty tricks and tactics

1.Be specific about what you want from the negotiations

Before you begin negotiation, it is important that you get out a pen and paper and write down exactly what it is that you want from the negotiation. Unless you know what you really want, you will not be able to identify areas where you are willing to compromise or forgo altogether. So identify where you are willing to bend and what is non-negotiable.

2.Create a bargaining zone (ZOPA)

ZOPA stands for Zone of Possible Agreement – this is a potential agreement that exists that would benefit both sides more than their alternative options do. A ZOPA is critical to a successful negotiation and a negotiation cannot happen without one. E.g. if I am selling a car at $5000 and you want to buy one for $5500 or less then we have a ZOPA, however if you can’t buy for more than $4000 and I am not willing to sell for less than $5000 then we do not have a ZOPA.

3.What you are willing to trade or concede

In any negotiations, there are some items that you need to be willing to trade for and some items that you need to be willing to give up altogether. Before beginning a negotiation, it is a good idea to make a list of what you are willing to trade and what you are willing to concede. It’s a lot like monopoly, when you trade properties with other players or decide not to buy certain properties based on what your objectives from the game are.

4.What is your BATNA

BANTA is an acronym for the Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement, a BANTA is not the bottom line of the negotiation a BANTA is the alternative should the negotiation not be favourable to both parties. When you know your BANTA, you have a lot more negotiating power because you know that if the negotiation is not within your ZOPA, you can walk out of it and go with the best alternative to the negotiation.

5.Understand the four phases in every negotiation

The first stage is the pre-negotiation process or the stage in which we prepare for the negotiation. The second stage is exchanging information which is when you can understand the other parties point of view and also help him understand yours. Bargaining – this stage is when the actual deal begins to take shape and the ZOPA is established. Closing and commitment – this is when you establish a common course of action, along with responsibilities and timelines and a sense of trust is built between parties about what needs to be done now.

6.Be wary of dirty tricks and tactics

There are skilled negotiators that are adept at arm twisting, changing the stakes, intimidation tactics etc. This is not clear and simple negotiation and it involves the use of dirty tricks and  tactics. Always be on your guard when negotiating with skilled negotiators and be prepared to use your BANTA in case you feel that you are being exploited or taken advantage of.