Essential Guide to negotiation: 10 basic principles

Being a good negotiator is a gift but also can be learned, hereby some interesting principles.

  1. Negotiate everything in life, from your scuba diving suit to your wages, from the new car to the flea market shirt.. . The best negotiators are children, not only because they never give in but also because they always apply their “innocent rule” (with exceptions of course) and tend to behave selfish and request.
  2. There is no negotiation if there is no deal. I remember perfectly how I failed negotiating a last-minute room in a rural hotel. They did not give in price, and we both lost. They lost a customer forever and probably did not recover a room at 08:30 p.m. saturday evening, but I also lost since I had to drive 80 km. back to Barcelona. So there must be always a mutual agreement and be ready to give in sometimes for achieving your targets. In my opinion, people who never give in achieve short time targets, and have more difficulties in building long-term relationship in negotiations (which is sometimes also positive to achieve other targets).
  3. Never start a negotiation without a preparation. I learnt a lot from the Dutch about working with “facts and figures” you need to know the data, how much margin, how much purchasing volume, how big in your negotiator, in which situation you are (weak or strong) in terms of power of negotiation… and then:
  4. Prepare a negotiation Strategy. Set up your own targets, and then benchmark them with your own reality and see if they are realistic. You want to buy your car to 20.000 euros netto when it is worth 40.000 euros brutto without discounts. I am sure that I can give you recommendations on how to reduce the price but realistic target would be around 30.000. And most important within this value, set up a range, like for example +/- 2.000 euros, that you can accept. Negotiate is being flexible.
  5. Use a tactic:(but applicable to your interlocutor).  There are millions of negotiation tactics, but not all are applicable to the person in front of you, you need to know the background of the person, cultural, company profile, history from past negotiations, and m,ost difficult during the negotiation catch up with behavioural facts that allow you to understand the other person tactic. That is the most funny part of a negotiation is what I call the “theatre”, like for example play a role that give one impression when the target is achieving the opposite.
  6. Avoid confrontation: in Business is very usual that in a negotiation with a supplier about price decreases, supplier might come up with unpaid invoices (And they have the right to) or directly complain about stretched cost target that create a difficulty in this current negotiation. It is requested as much empathy as possible: only by understanding your opponent  you can deal with them. Back to tactics, there are some basic tactics to move forward in negotiations in these situations. But again spend time to listen to your interlocutor.
  7. Listen before fight . Keep mental games to not to forget your issue your poker-card or your argumentation, but listen fully the story of your interlocutor and his/her argumentation. Not only people take it very bad the lack of education but also it might force you to show more agressivity to interrupt  and the oponent might take it as a defence/agressive tactic and difficult any move. Latin countries are good in interruption of conversation, this can be also possitive in case of blocking points of discussion or making it more dynamic.
  8. Respect cultural differencies from your interlocutor. It is not the same in business to discuss in Asia, USA or north to south Europe. Show respect to introductions, to presentation of the companies, or even methods of negotiation. But important point, do not try to negotiate with locals in the local way, they might have done it for years. Use your own tactics and negotiation approach. There is a high risk to lose the battle, so do not reinvent the wheel, make your own wheel adaptation.
  9. Debate. Make a good argumentation and debate as much as you can, learn from the Chinese, debate, explain, discuss, show motivation to the topic…. and then be ready to summarize in the least expected moment. This requires a lot of mental gaming, you can also take notes of progress done in discussions and when the moment comes then summarize the negotiation. Summary of agreement is key in long negotiations.
  10. Be yourself: Only by being yourself the others will feel empathy for you which is an important point in negotiations. Only by being yourself you can apply your negotiation approach and tactic: I for example interrupt negotiations in difficult moments keeping in mind the difficult point and bring it back when unexpected with a different argumentation for example; but just because I am good on it. And that is learning by doing, by participating in negotiations by reading books and also (why not) by trainings. And learning from other cultures. In Europe we think we know a lot about negotiations, but my best teachers were colleagues at work from USA and China.

And always remember that there is no negotiation without a deal !!

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