Whether in the workplace or the bedroom, follow this advice to achieve a resolution . . .
Before you sit down at the table, be clear about the terms you’re happy to accept — determine a specific target price (or terms) you’re aiming for, and a reservation price you’d settle for. Cementing an exact outcome in your mind means you start negotiations in a position of strength, you’re less likely to be influenced by your counterpart’s offer, and you won’t walk away with a deal that falls short of your expectations.
Make the first offer
This might seem counter-intuitive — knowledge is power so it’s tempting to wait and see what the other party’s thinking — but making the first move more often results in terms closer to your target price than theirs. Negotiations anchor around that initial offer — it sets the stage for the course of discussions — and you’re in a stronger position pivoting around your target price than trying to negotiate up from a low starting point.
If your opposite number seizes the initiative and opens with an offer that seems wildly high or low, call them out and re-anchor negotiations on friendlier terms (Negotiation 101: don’t get pushed around). But if their opening terms are reasonable, don’t counter with a silly price of your own — discussions will go more smoothly if both parties feel like there’s a bit of sensible give and take.
Another tip that seems contradictory — didn’t ‘How to win friends and influence people’ suggest ‘yes’ answers win others over to your way of thinking? — ‘no’ responses make the other party feel like they’re in control. While a string of ‘yes’ questions can make your counterpart feel like they’re being cornered by a used-car salesman, a few gentle ’no’ questions — “Would it be a bad idea if . . . ?” — makes them feel like they’re protecting themselves by responding ‘no’, giving them the illusion of control as you control the real power.
Repeating the last couple of words your counterpart used — “Finding a bit of wiggle room is important” . . . “it’s very important” — not only builds rapport, but also slows down the conversation to give you a couple more seconds to think about your next move. Mirroring facial expressions, body language and speech patterns all contributes to a smooth negotiation process, as well.
Know when to walk away
If it becomes obvious that the negotiated outcome will fall short of your reservation terms, then listen to Kenny Rogers’ words of wisdom and walk away from the table — that’s why it’s so important to set that figure in stone before negotiations kick off, so you don’t leave with anything less than you’re happy with.