Advertising
Advertising

Make Your Words Count: 5 Tips on How to Negotiate at the Office

Make Your Words Count: 5 Tips on How to Negotiate at the Office

Whether you work from the comfort of your home office, or in a cubical 50 floors above the street, there’s one thing that you’ll never be able to avoid—negotiating.

There are some people that love the art of negotiation. Some even live for it. They thrive on the excitement, elevated blood pressure and adrenal rush that comes with the “search for agreement” that negotiations represent. I’m sure you’ve met these competitive types before: they almost always have the last word; they’re on the aggressive side of normal; they send back their salad because there weren’t enough croutons.

Advertising

Then there are they rest of us. We avoid negotiation, not because we’re scared, but because it’s so awfully close to an argument…okay, maybe we’re just the slightest bit scared. Or, rather, lets call it “out of our comfort zone,” instead of scared—that’s much more civil.

Regardless of how it you makes feel, negotiating is a skill that every business person needs—from the CEO to the temp secretary.  And when it comes to negotiating, it all about the words you choose and how you put them together. Literary types call that “diction.” We’re just gonna call it “owning it.”

Advertising

Here are some words and phrases to avoid when it’s your turn at the table.

“Somewhere In-Between”

9 times out of 10, negotiations are about one of two things: money, or time, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be talking about both simultaneously at one point or another.  Since both deal with what statisticians call “continuous variables,” meaning that they can go on forever, theoretically, you can discuss them in the same way. For example: let’s say you tell an employee or outside contractor that you need a job done “somewhere between 3 and 5 days from now.” Right from the start, you’re fighting against yourself by giving them two points to choose from, and showing them that you’re indecisive, which can be read as being a pushover. Not only that, but you’re almost always guaranteed to to end up waiting for the date furthest away, or if you’re talking money, paying the higher price.

Advertising

Ready, Aim, Raise…

…but it’s important not to aim too high. When your negotiation is centered on money—a salary or raise, for example—I find that it’s best to shoot first, aim high, and ask questions later. I know, I’m using a lot of gun metaphors—forgive me. There’s a reason (for the shooting first, not really for the metaphors) that you want to beat them to the punch: whatever number is thrown out first is the number that both partied focus on —it becomes a kind of anchor for the negotiation, and the price/raise/what-have-you is generally closer to that anchor than not.

“The Buck Stops Here”

First of all, no-one says that anymore. That phrase, which is roughly equivalent to saying “I’m the boss,” not only sounds ridiculous when thrown into a negotiation, but it also leaves you backed into a corner. Depending on whom you are negotiating with, the information that you ultimately make the decisions can help them force you into answering a question or signing a deal when you aren’t quite ready to do so.

Advertising

Keeping Calm (“Are We There Yet?”)

No matter what the negotiation is about, the party that comes out on top is usually the one who is the calmest. That means no looking at the clock, no complaining that “this is taking too long,” and please, take it easy to the bathroom breaks. You always want to seem like you have all the time in the world. Remember that the point of a negotiation is to get what you want out of the deal, not to end the negotiation as soon as possible.

Keeping Cool Reprise

Obviously, you should enter every negotiation with a cool head, and try to keep it cool throughout the proceedings. If you’ve seen any police procedural or lawyer drama, you’ll know that getting your counterpart’s blood hot is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get what you want. Don’t fall into the trap: you’re better than that.

Featured photo credit:  Attractive Blond Young Woman With A Telephone Headset via Shutterstock

More by this author

Whiz BANG! Gadgets That May Just Change Everything The Behaviors that Destroy Communication in Workplace (and How to Avoid Them) Make Your Words Count: 5 Tips on How to Negotiate at the Office

Trending in Communication

1The Gentle Art of Saying No 217 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 310 Toxic Persons You Should Just Get Rid Of 4Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts 5Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

Advertising

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

Advertising

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

Advertising

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Advertising

Read Next