Negotiating… we all have to do it and most of as dread it. But actually, it is not as difficult as you might think. Let me help you with my 7 top tips to get what you want:
1. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.
One of the most fundamental mistakes in negotiating is that we do not clearly ask for what we want. In the past, I often hoped that my supervisors will see that I perform and will then reward me. While this is an ideal, the reality always showed me that if I do not ask for it, nobody will give it to me. You should apply the mindset that you can ask for anything, because everything is somehow negotiable. But if you already think that you might not get what you want even before you start negotiating, it will not work.
2. It is HOW you ask about it.
You can ask for whatever you want but apart from a realistic demand, you also have to express it in a non-aggressive way. Instead of accusing your counterpart with remarks like “You should not …”, put yourself into your counterpart’s position: which remarks would make you feel uncomfortable? And how far can your counterpart really move towards your target? Try the right amount of being assertive and understanding.
3. Do your homework and evaluate your counterpart.
Is it really realistic what he/she tells me he can do and what not? Is it really the best price for the product? Am I really getting the right salary? For a good evaluation, it is critical to do your homework and some research: search online, ask colleagues or friends.
4. Assess the company/regional culture you are in.
In some countries, negotiation is paramount and part of the game. You cannot buy any product without negotiating. In China, for example, it is perfectly fine to start with double the price you are aiming for and then make your way down to your target price. However, this mentality might be considered rude in other countries. If you start a new job, try to do some research about the corporate culture and their attitude towards negotiating your salary – in some industries, like consulting, the salaries of entry levels are most of the time not negotiable, while in others you have some room to change them.
5. You can always walk away
One of the most important lessons I learned negotiating at Chinese markets is that I can always walk away and find the product somewhere else. This walking away is often a good strategy to show your counterpart that you have your principles and they might come get you back to re-negotiate. Similar, to a job: when you apply for a job and you get an offer letter, assess if you are comfortable with it. It is not only if they want you but also if you want them and under the conditions they offer you.
6. Body language and timing
Even though you might express what you want, if your body is not aligned with it, your counterpart will use it as a weakness. Furthermore, try not to negotiate anything if you are under time pressure. If your partner finds out about it, he/she can use it to their advantage.
7. Practice, practice, practice
Negotiating is not something that you will learn overnight. You have to put yourself into the situation and do it as often as possible. Practice with a friend or a colleague and let them put you under pressure. Also, filming yourself really helps to see your mistakes.