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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 October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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