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How to Win Every Negotiation Even When Your Opponent Is Winston Churchill

How to Win Every Negotiation Even When Your Opponent Is Winston Churchill

Negotiation is an everyday human interaction — a process that takes place when two or more people with different stances try to work together for a mutually beneficial result. This includes anything from an employee/employer discussing a pay rise, to a customer trying to get better deals, to a mother/son discussing leaving home. Negotiation happens all the time, but most rarely realize it. This is why negotiation skills are something that everyone should take up.

In a negotiation, compromise is key.  Each party will likely have to sacrifice something to get what they want, and they may not get all that they want.  Negotiation without compromise will never work. Here I will help you get the best out of a negotiation without sacrificing too much benefit to please others.

Know Your Counterpart and Know Yourself

Identify your position.

This will make you strong yet flexible, and less susceptible to rash decision-making or influence from your counterpart, even when negotiations become intense.

  • Specify your objectives. Envision what the ideal outcome will look like to you.  Be specific. Articulate what the conclusion to your negotiation is so you know how to work towards it.  Now do a reality-check.
  • Ask yourself – what might I need to sacrifice to get what I want?  Categorize these items into what’s negotiable, and what isn’t. This helps you identify two important parameters: (i) your ideal outcome and (ii) your minimum acceptable outcome – the point at which you are no longer willing to negotiate.
  • Prepare a backup action in the event that the negotiation does fail. Otherwise, you’ll be a weak negotiator, making regretful sacrifices under pressure in order to come to an agreement at any cost.

Identify their position.

Get as much information as possible about what your counterpart really wants. If you can understand what they truly value, you can offer them an appealing solution that also benefits you.

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Both parties should disclose all of the points that are up for negotiation. When you both know what’s at stake, it becomes clearer where you can both benefit (a win-win scenario) and where some give-and-take will be necessary.

Say a disgruntled employee who used to be conscientious suddenly complains about her salary. At face value, your main options are to increase her pay for doing the same work or refuse and risk losing her.  However, when you take the time to talk with her, you discover that it’s not really about the salary. She has high ambitions but was overlooked for a recent promotion opportunity. Then you can propose to support her to help her rise in the company.

Build Trust, Not Enemy

A key goal in any negotiation is to build trust. Earning trust helps you both during the negotiation and in the longer term.

Even with difficult negotiations, always be the party open to finding a mutually beneficial solution. Remain professional and follow the above steps, from preparation, to manoeuvring, to the negotiation’s conclusion.

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Firstly, being professional gives you the edge in the process, as it encourages transparency and cooperation from your counterpart.

Secondly, even if you can’t come to an agreement in a particular negotiation, your counterpart will leave the encounter knowing that you are firm, flexible, clear, and honest. Worthy counterparts will return to you for future negotiations, and non-worthy opponents will realise that they need not try their luck with you.

Give Them Freedom

Prepare multiple give-and-take options. To give your counterpart the ability to choose is a powerful bargaining advantage to you.

Imagine you’re a parent who wants your toddler to eat more vegetables. Instead of repeatedly asking them to eat, and getting a ‘no’ as a response, you could prepare two different types of vegetables and ask them if they want to eat the broccoli or the peas.

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Doing this reframes the options from ‘yes’ vs. ‘no’ into ‘this’ vs. ‘that’. Your toddler feels empowered because they’ve made an independent choice. And of course, since your goal was for them to eat more vegetables, ‘this’ vs. ‘that’ is really a disguised ‘yes’ vs. ‘yes’.

Be Silent About Your Sacrifices

Don’t reveal the value of your sacrifices. I’m not suggesting that you be dishonest. Keep matters straightforward because value is in the eye of the beholder.

A small sacrifice for you may be of great benefit to your counterpart. If you inadvertently reveal to them your most painful sacrifice, they’ll perceive that to be the thing of high value.

Offer low value sacrifices early in the negotiation as another way of showing goodwill. It helps to lower their defences and sets a cooperative tone. Similarly, package together several low value sacrifices to satisfy your counterpart.

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Now imagine you’re going to a fishing region for your next family holiday. It’s further away than where you usually go for holidays, and isn’t quite as fun for children. After discussing it with the family, they’ve agreed to the holiday that you want. And you’ve agreed that you’ll (i) clean and tidy the car before you leave, (ii) do all the driving, (iii) take your 10-year old to the nearby zoo on two of the days away. This seems like a lot of work, but you enjoy driving, you need to tidy the car anyway to fit in your fishing gear, and you like spending time with your 10-year old.

Make Yours a Limited Edition

In other words, emphasize its value by informing your counterpart that your offer has a time limit. The goal is to get them to envision a possible future where your deal is no longer available to them. This should compel them to apply value to your offer in the present, and take action.

I have a friend, Michelle, who makes dresses. She agrees to make six dresses for a client (a boutique clothing store) at a discounted rate because it will solve a pressing cash-flow problem. However, she doesn’t apply a deadline to her offer. As a result, the client has achieved what he wanted in principle and doesn’t bother executing the deal for several weeks. Since then, Michelle has made sure that any deals she makes are strictly on the condition that her clients accept the offer within the week.

Delay, Delay, Delay

Don’t be too quick to respond, otherwise you may seem desperate. This may make your counterpart suspicious. Or a ruthless opponent may take advantage of your apparent desperation to close. Furthermore, the party who can afford to wait can increase their bargaining power.

Say you are really keen on a certain PA role and you know they’re keen to take you on, but their salary offer is lower than the minimum amount you’d accept. Instead of making a quick decision, emails them to say you’re not convinced, and that you’ll look at your options and let them know. Wait a few days, the HR will find you to ask if you’ve made your decision yet. If you say no, they may even raise their offer.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Keep the above tactics in mind and you will master every negotiation. Remember, negotiation requires compromise. The outcome of a negotiation should always be beneficial to both parties.

More by this author

Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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