That promotion, that new project, or even the corner cubicle in the new office building. You might want any or all of them and sometimes, might even have negotiate to get them.

Negotiation is a key skill that helps us emerge successfully from many situations, both personal and professional. However, during skill training and self-development programs, it seldom gets the attention it deserves. Here are some pointers to help you approach a situation where a deal is to be sealed.

  • Don’t begin with preconditions. Discussing how ultimatums and preconditions are a bad idea, Deepak Malhotra and Jonathan Powell share the example of Donald Trump. The Presidential candidate wanted an anchor out of the show in which he was to participate. The TV Channel refused to comply. Trump did not participate in the show, and worse, lost the Iowa caucuses a few days later! Ultimatums make you take a fixed position, and the very purpose of negotiation is lost.
  • Question the assumption. Often, we believe we know exactly what we want and what the other person wants too. This limits our ability to appreciate the actual situation and view the big picture. If too focused on nailing that immediate promotion, you might let go of a chance to lead the new, exciting project and get the CEO’s attention. Professors Margaret Neale and Thomas Lys talk about how such assumptions can hold us from seeing what is truly negotiable, and blindfold us to the fact that there could be ‘more than one solution’ to the problem.
  • Don’t make the other side lose. We want to win. Always, right? So do people on the other side of the negotiation table. Sometimes, getting what you want out of the deal is also about making sure the other person’s interests are taken care of. In this video about bargaining for pumpkins, Prof Brett explains how to move a negotiation from a firm ‘no’ to a win-win situation for both sides.
  • Build relationships. In an article on deal making, Jeswald Salacus talks of how countries need to engage continuously to make a deal work. Signing the contract is only a part of the process. The tests lie in the implementation process – when the terms need to be put into play under challenging, and sometimes even changing circumstances. This can be true of your career wins too. You’ve been promoted, but in the changed workplace environment it might take more than just authority to get your team to listen to you. What will help? Relationships and open communication.

Almost all experts on negotiations agree that striking a deal is not just about finding value for yourself. It’s also about helping the other side find value. Great negotiators don’t just win; they create a win-win for both sides involved. You give some, get some. Ready to strike a deal now?

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