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Let’s face it – most people are intimidated by negotiating. They think that some people have mad magical negotiating skillz that separate them from the rest of humanity – us mere mortals. You can read some very boring books about statistical assessments of how to negotiate. Some claim that it has to be win-win or no deal which is simply not practical in some industries or situations. So what are some strategies for approaching negotiations?

First, you really need to do your homework and plan. Get clarity about what you want and think through all of your options. Most negotiation programs teach a staged process for negotiating and that process guides your planning. Part of that planning has to include what the other party wants and what really matters to them.

Secondly, read a few books like Getting to Yes (Fischer and Ury) or even the SMS book: Managing Negotiation Reader that compliments our negotiation programs. Educate yourself and try to understand what your weaknesses are, for example, do you hate losing? And yes – people can be slimy and want to win at ALL costs – even damaging the relationship with you!

Thirdly, how will you handle nasty and manipulative tricks? Someone tells you that they only have 15 minutes and you thought you were meeting for a couple of hours. Or the other side shows up with two attorneys and an accountant. That then, becomes the focus of the negotiation so you need to be able to shift to deal with manipulation or dirty tricks.

Fourthly, get trained in Influencing Skills because without the Influencing Skills you cannot effectively manage the process of negotiation. Knowledge of your deal and about the craft of negotiating will only take you so far, you also need the ability to influence others. Using Influence Behaviors like Common Ground and Listening (from the Positive Power and Influence® Program) are known to be used much more frequently by successful negotiators.

Finally, the hardest thing for most people is managing their own reactions. Emotional intelligence and very effective negotiations go hand-in-hand. When I teach people to negotiate, we talk about the emotional reactions at the various stages of the negotiation process. For example, in the beginning we can be optimistic or pessimistic about our chances of success. It is best to be neutral and to figure out what matters to the other party.

One of the biggest emotional reactions to manage is when you finally realize how big a gap there is between you and the other party. The emotions here can range from anger to ecstasy (e.g.: what a chump). If you are finding that your emotions are very strong, the best thing to do is to use the Influence Tactic of Disengaging and to suggest a break so you can think things through.

An important tool as well is your gut. Your gut may not accurately tell you if the other people are trustworthy or not, but what it will tell you is if the direction you are heading in is aligned with what you truly want. So pay attention to that gut!

There you have it, a few tips on negotiating. These tips may help shift your mindset and move you to enjoying the process of negotiating. Personally, I enjoy it!