No more no’s: How to negotiate like a pro

No more no’s: How to negotiate like a pro

Negotiation. For many years, I avoided it because I shied away from confrontation. The notion of asking for what I wanted and risk losing my “likeability” or “easy-to-work-with-ness” seemed like a Game of Thrones standoff I’d much rather sidestep, thank you very much.

But not being a good negotiator hurts the appeaser (me) in the long run. As a poor-negotiator and pro-pacifier I was paid less and sacrificed my best work because I didn’t fight for terms that supported my full life. It wasn’t until I looked at negotiation less as a battle, and more as a game, that I got my A game on at work (and in life outside the office).

@StanfordUniversity Business School professor Margaret Neale covers negotiation in her books and courses. She says that when people see negotiation as a battle, they’ll often give up too much, too soon, and to their own detriment, just to end the “fight”. Instead, she explains, negotiation is about finding a solution to your counterpart’s problem that makes you better off than you would have been had you not negotiated.

Here’s Neale’s five-step road to better negotiating:

1- Assess. “Can I change the outcome in a way that makes me better off?” Do you have good information on what you need to help you to create viable offers and creative packages in the negotiation? If not, find it before you proceed.

2- Prepare. Like a good Girl Scout, this is essential. Research, make strategic choices and maintain discipline. Negotiation is not an improvisational dance, it’s using facts, science, and whatever data you have to demonstrate your worth, and the value you offer your counterpart across the table.

3- Ask for what you want. Neale says that when you make the first offer — informed by everything you’ve learned in your preparation about what you need and what your counterpart wants — you are anchoring the negotiation closer to where you want it.

4- Package. Your proposal should include aspects beyond dollar figures that is more likely to be accepted, and be valuable to you. Find creative sources of value.

5- Adopt a powerful mindset. Like Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce and Amy Cuddy’s #powerposes, body language and your inner dialogue matter. Sitting or standing in an expansive pose can influence your hormonal levels as well as your willingness to take risks. Shoulders back, chest expanded, wide stance, and think about a time when you felt your best – these all can help you get into a powerful mindset and negotiate creative solutions where both parties win.

Now go out there, and negotiate like the queen you are.

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