The workplace can be an intimidating environment, especially when you land the task of negotiating with people with more sway than you. We are not going to lie and say that negotiating with powerful people is easy, because unfortunately it isn’t. However there are a number of things you can do to improve your argument and make yourself more confident in your approach to negotiating.
1. Prepare what you are going to say
There is no such thing as over-preparing for a negotiation. Do your homework to ensure that you not only have enough knowledge of the subject of your negotiation, but also the person you will be negotiating with. The more effort you put into preparing for a negotiation, the more confident you will be. The other person will be able to pick up on your confidence and knowledge and is likely to take you much more seriously.
For example, say you are negotiating with a higher-level colleague about the appropriate action to take with your campaign, in order to drive successful results. Preparing your argument and why you believe you should take a specific approach, over their approach (with facts and figures to back up your points) will show the other person that you have done your homework and help them to see things from your perspective.
2. Anticipate what the other person wants from you
Part of your preparation process should involve thinking about what the other person wants. Predicting their argument and any objections they may have to your argument, will allow you to find facts and statements to back yourself up with. Thinking about what the other person wants from you will allow you to incorporate how you are going to meet their needs in your argument, making it stronger and harder to say no to.
Say for example you were asking for funding to hire an assistant. You would need to anticipate what the other side requires to justify the additional expense. This would involve proving that you required an assistant and how it would benefit them e.g. increased productivity levels, better efficiency, more profit.
3. Keep calm
It is natural to feel intimidated when negotiating with someone with more sway than you, but the key is to keep calm. Whether you are negotiating a pay rise or funding for your project, it is important to remember that although the other person is more powerful than you, you have earned the right to converse with them.
Think positive and tell yourself and others that you are feeling confident and have a great case to make. Telling other people that you feel nervous about your negotiation can make you feel more nervous. Taking a few deep breaths will also help to calm your nerves and focus your mind.
4. Think positively and aim high
Always think positively and aim high. That way, you won’t be disappointed when the person you are negotiating with meets you somewhere in the middle. In order to aim high you need to understand and believe that you and the case you are making are of value to the other person.
Aiming high works particularly well when it comes to negotiating a pay rise. If you ask for more money than you believe you will get and have facts such as successful projects you have worked on and your experience to back you up, it is more likely that your manager will meet you in the middle and you won’t leave disappointed.
5. Listen carefully
While anticipating what the other side may be arguing is essential when preparing your argument, it is still important to listen carefully to what they are saying during your negotiation. You never know, they may not ask for as much as you predicted, allowing you to tailor your comeback accordingly.
Listening to the person with more sway than you will also show you respect them and in turn command far greater respect for yourself. Show you are listening to them by asking the right questions, preferably open-ended ones that will allow you to gain more information as to what they require of you.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want
There is little point in negotiating with someone if you compromise on what you want from the beginning. Enter the negotiating knowing exactly what you want to achieve from it and do not be afraid to ask for what you want. Providing you have points to back up why you deserve a pay raise, funding, job or whatever you are negotiating, will show that you are assertive and have self-worth.
7. Remember that you can always walk away
Always enter negotiations knowing that you can walk away if the other side is unwilling to compromise. If your negotiation is going nowhere and you are unwilling to walk away, you may appear desperate. Showing you are prepared to walk away if you cannot negotiate a satisfactory will with show the other person that you mean business.
Although these techniques may seem simple, following them will go a long way in helping you to achieve your goals. Even if you have less sway than the person you are negotiating with, using these techniques will show that you are knowledgeable and have a valid case to make. Keep calm and positive, listen carefully, back up your points with facts and remember that you always have the option to walk away.
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