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How to Negotiate in Difficult Situations and Still Get What You Want

How to Negotiate in Difficult Situations and Still Get What You Want

Sometimes getting what you want or need is a matter of saying the right things to the right people at the right time. We usually think of negotiation as a means to secure a desirable salary, settle a conflict, or close a deal. Negotiation is more than just getting what you want.

Negotiation is a nuanced art form with many possible outcomes. In some forms of negotiation, there is no clear winner. When you understand different types of negotiations, you can work to find the best possible solutions for your situation. You will also be able to identify which negotiation strategies are being used so that you can redirect outcomes that may not be favorable.

When you know how to negotiate, you gain a competitive edge.

Studies suggest that about 87% of people dislike going through the salary negotiation process.[1] There’s also a gender gap in negotiations–31% of women say that they are uncomfortable with salary negotiations, and 23% of men dislike the process.[2] Disdain for the negotiation process is one of the many factors that contributes to the gender pay gap.[3] Learning how to come up with solutions that work for all parties is a gift that translates into greater success for all people involved in the process.

Can you identify the negotiation technique?

As much as we may feel like we are imposing on others when we enter into a negotiation, being forthright about your needs up front can save you a lot of heartache and loss. Ideally, all of our solutions would be win-win, but if you’ve ever gotten the raw end of a deal, you know that this is not how all negotiations work. There are several possible outcomes for any negotiation.[4]

Win-win: co-create for the result so that both parties can benefit from it

The most desirable negotiations provide positive outcomes for all groups involved. In a win-win negotiation, parties collaborate and co-create desirable results.

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For this collaborative approach to work, both parties must have the intention of creating something that works best for everyone involved. When you see a win-win outcome, it is almost always because both parties shared information openly and worked together to overcome obstacles.

When you have to negotiate for a salary at a new job, hopefully the intention is to create value for you and the business. You want to be compensated so that you can perform effectively, and they want to give you a fair amount so that you will be satisfied in your job.

Win-lose: one gains more than the other because of limited resources

A win-lose result is almost guaranteed when there are a fixed number of resources and two parties are forced to compete for them. This type of negotiation is often referred to as “zero-sum” since there are a finite amount of resources available, and one party’s gain directly translates into a loss for the other party. Persuasion and manipulation, withholding information, and threatening with force are a few of the markers of a win-lose situation.

To visualize how a win-lose result looks in the real world, think of dividing a pizza between two people. The fairest distribution would be to divide the pizza in half. If one person takes an additional slice, the other person is guaranteed to get less. The dining partners have engaged in a form of win-lose negotiation.

Lose-lose: both lose but one tries to lose less compared to the other one

When two negotiating parties are unable to reach a reasonable agreement, they may work to undermine the needs of one another. The outcomes of this type of arrangement are never good.

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Unfortunately, we often see this type of interaction during divorce proceedings. Since both parties may come to the negotiations feeling hurt, the chances of one or both parties actively working to cause harm to each other are high. This is not to say that all divorces lead to lose-lose negotiations–only that emotional factors and complex personal matters could make a positive outcome more difficult.[5]

Multi-party: more than one party is involved in making a decision

Multi-party negotiations are among the most complex.[6] They typically involve several large entities with varied interests. We see these types of agreements play out throughout history and in the news today. The Geneva Conventions[7] and the Paris Climate Agreement[8] are two famous examples of multi-party negotiations.

These complex negotiations are not limited to multi-national agreements, however. When relatives negotiate to settle a contested estate after a family member has passed away, legal representation may be called in to ensure that the needs, desires, and perspectives of all parties are considered while respecting the wishes of the deceased individual.[9] When multiple parties are involved, it can be difficult to give everyone what they want, but it is still possible to have a positive outcome.

Five killer tips to have a successful negotiation

1. Establish your goals and write them down.

Think about what aspects of the deal are non-negotiable and what you could give up if you needed to compromise.[10] In the course of negotiation, you can keep yourself from getting too far off-track by referring to your original intention.

Having a clear grasp on what you hope to accomplish is a good practice for any type of negotiation, but it is critical when you are dealing with emotional issues. Remember that lose-lose outcomes are predicated on having a negative view of the opponent. When an opponent makes an unreasonable demand, pause and revisit your goals before you react.

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2. Understand your opponent’s position.

You can make a more compelling argument and increase the chances of having a win-win outcome if you grasp your opponent’s position. Sometimes you’ll have to read between the lines to do this. Take time to listen to their needs and try to cooperate with them so that both of you come out ahead. The bullish, take-no-prisoners negotiation model is no longer the preferred means of striking a deal.[11] “You get more flies with honey,” as the old saying goes.

When you ask for a raise, listen to the rationale that your boss provides for countering your offer. Maybe your boss thinks you are a great employee, but bad economic conditions are affecting the company’s profit margins. Since your boss has indicated that there are finite resources available, you are entering a win-lose negotiation. You may decide that you will need to find a new job based on this information. You could also negotiate for a slightly lower raise and ask to follow up with your boss in a few months. Either way, by understanding the other person’s position, you can come up with a solution that maximizes a positive outcome, even though one of you will have to make a concession.

3. Do your research and identify the approach to use.

Regardless of the negotiating environment, understand the precedents for what you are asking and how cultural differences could influence outcomes.

In salary negotiations, this means that you’ll need to know what someone with your qualifications makes in the position in question. Most of this information can be found online through sites like Glassdoor.

Doing your research can prevent you from asking for something that might seem inappropriate or rude to a foreign entity. What cultural values can you bring into the negotiation?[12] Company culture can also influence your approach. If you know that the boss values humility, don’t start the conversation by bragging about all of your accomplishments. Research can help you set the tone for how you will interact with the other person.

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4. Aim high (or low), but be reasonable.

Use research to inform the baseline of your negotiation. When you make your case, ask for more than you expect to get, so that you and your opponent have room to maneuver. If you ask for the moon, though, you can come off looking unprofessional.

Imagine you are interested in buying a house listed for $300,000. After doing some research on the market and assessing the property, you determine that it needs $20,000 in repairs before it is livable. The seller has already likely set the list price high. You can make a counter offer of $250,000 citing the repair needs and other factors from your research. The homeowner may accept the $250,000, or they may counter again. All of this is great because you are in a dialogue with one another. If both parties are honest, then this could be a win-win situation. If you asked to have the $300,000 home for $50,000, there would be no negotiation because you were unreasonable.[13]

5. Focus on the problem.

Staying on message is essential when you enter into any type of negotiation. In business, it is a good idea not to take things too personally, and in your personal life, sometimes conflict resolution requires a degree of objectivity.[14]

During a multi-party negotiation, it is easy to become so entangled in various needs that you forget why you are negotiating in the first place. For example, if you are working with two other businesses to fix the asphalt in your shared parking lot, you can enter a minefield of conflicting interests. Maybe most of the problem area is located in front of one business, but it was caused by a tree that another business owner feels is essential for aesthetic purposes. Pursue a collaborative tone in these interactions so that you can all come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

You can’t win if you don’t play.

For many of us, the idea of asking for more in a salary negotiation, a business deal, or in personal disputes can feel daunting. If you never have the courage to speak up, you’ll remain at a disadvantage. Meekness in business and in life are almost never rewarded. There are ways to assert your needs respectfully so that all parties experience some benefit. Give negotiation a try. You may surprise yourself with the results of your efforts.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] Forbes: Why Negotiators Still Aren’t ‘Getting To Yes’
[2] Career Geek: Understand Salary Negotiation By Understanding These Negotiation Statistics
[3] Monster: How Salary Negotiation Contributes to the Wage Gap
[4] Management Study HQ: Approaches to Negotiation
[5] Divorce Magazine.com: Emotional Issues and Negotiation Skills
[6] Simplicible: 7 Types of Negotiation and 1 Big Myth
[7] Wikipedia: Geneva Conventions
[8] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: The Paris Agreement
[9] Instructables: How to Divide the Estate Happily and Fairly
[10] Ed Broddow: Keynotes and Seminars on Negotiation: Ten Tips for Negotiating in 2017
[11] Forbes: 7 Negotiation Tips for Success
[12] Negotiation Space: How well do you understand the other party?
[13] Nightingale Conant: Ask for more than you expect to get
[14] Negotiation Space: Focus on what is important

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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