6 Golden Rules of Negotiating
I've been managing contracts, on behalf of the federal government, for the past 12 years. In those 12 years I've negotiated a lot of contracts, modifications to contracts, change orders, etc. Some have been for as little as $500, and some have been for tens of millions of dollars. The techniques and nuances for negotiating that I've learned have been immeasurable, both on the job, and in my daily life. One thing is for sure. The art of negotiating is a fascinating thing.
In this quick blog post I want to share 6 of the most important things I keep in mind whenever I negotiate on, or off the job.
Here are my 6 rules of negotiating
1. Be willing to walk away. You will usually find this one listed last. However, I think it"s so important, that I decided to list it first! Never enter into any negotiation without the power to walk away. If you do, you are half defeated before it starts. Being willing to walk away from any negotiation is literally like having a super power. It's leverage that is in your back pocket that, if skillfully used, can give you a very strong advantage in any negotiation. If you can't walk away, you have absolutely no leverage. So not only be willing to walk away, but do it, if you have to. Sometimes the threat of the willingness to walk away, is enough to give you the leverage it takes to collect a concession on your behalf.
Never enter into any negotiation without the power to walk away
2. Prepare. Over prepare. Then prepare some more. Study as thorough as possible. Determine what you aren't leaving the table without, exactly what you can live without, and go through all of the potential fulfillment and concession scenarios. Be sure to bring notes to the negotiations and don't care about how it may look. You are negotiating to get a good deal, not to look good. Again, be as ready as possible for the offer and the counteroffers. Strategy starts with preparation, and an abundance of preparation helps eliminate nervousness.
3. Always let them make the first offer. Hush! Silence is golden in a negotiation. Just listen. Let their offer sit, think, and then counter, if necessary. The more you talk, the more you open up the opportunity to reveal too much. Part of your leverage in negotiations is the fact that the other party doesn't quite know everything you are thinking. Avoid making the first offer at all cost. You can lose a lot by making the first offer!
The more you talk, the more you open up the opportunity to reveal too much
4. Don't be afraid to "ASK". Don't be afraid. If you want something, ask for it. Sometimes, when you ask, you will get it. If you are afraid to ask, you will come up short in negotiations. Again, this isn't about what you look like. It's about getting the right deal. Whether you are on the phone negotiating a new rate for your cable TV services, searching for a bargain at the local thrift store, or embroiled in a high stakes million-dollar negotiation with a foreign company for a high tech software application for your business, you need to be comfortable and confident with the "ask", as you enter into negotiations. I can't stress enough how important this is.
Don't be afraid. Be confident. Fear, shyness, and self-doubt are easy to spot