(This article is part of the ongoing column 12 Steps to Success.)
Most people negotiate several times every day in both their personal situations and professional lives, but few actually understand or consciously use negotiation skills,1let alone try to improve this vital skill or consider its value.2
Successful negotiation requires planning, research, and preparation. Following these 6 steps will help:3
1. Decide if negotiating makes sense: Negotiation is seldom required. Determine if the energy and expense is worth the potential gain before acting.
For example, you may be able to convince your practice manager to allow you to leave work 15 minutes early today. However, negotiating for this tiny luxury may make it more difficult to ask for more later in the week without appearing needy or demanding. Deciding whether being able to leave 15 minutes early is worth the effort and risk of asking for the privilege is the first step.
2. Understand situations where negotiation works: Mindfully watch for situations where negotiation is not only possible but also valuable, or you will not be successful. For example, it may be possible to change facts, such as an item’s price, a proposed salary or job description, or a client’s demand.
3. Ascertain each party’s interests: Only when each partner knows his or her own goals, and understands what the other party is looking for, can partners negotiate a mutually satisfying outcome. It is also important that both parties be aware of emotions such as satisfaction and goodwill, as well as the value of strong relationships, that may set the stage for a positive outcome. The more you know about others’ values, the more effectively you can negotiate.