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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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Angelina Phebus

Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

How to Stop Information Overload

How to Stop Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

How Serious Is Information Overload?

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

1. Set Your Goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

(You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

Summing It Up

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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