Market musings

9 Ways to Sharpen Your Negotiation Game for 2018

by Sasha Viasasha
August 24, 2017

Do your compromises feel like defeats? Are you not really getting what you want or need from partners and contractors? Are you ready to sharpen your negotiation game and get what you need in 2018?

45 days are all you need to change a habit. Don't walk away from meetings and deals feeling like you got the short stick. Some planning and strategy can arm you with the tools you need to become your own best advocate. 

I have to deal with people?

You might have gotten into business because you had a great idea you wanted to share with the world. But—surprise—now your days are filled with people. Not surprisingly, many first-time entrepreneurs and small business owners find themselves brushing up on soft skills, especially those that give you an edge in negotiation. 

From attracting investors to dealing with contractors, salespeople or difficult clients, negotiation is the very essence of business. Your negotiation strategies will be unique to your style and goals, but there are some tips you can follow to sharpen your negotiation game.  

  1. Research -- Whether you are wooing capital or shopping for services, arming yourself with all the information will automatically give you an edge. For investors, collaborators, and other allies, doing your research will show you are a capable partner. For contractors, you’ll show up as an empowered buyer. With customers and clients, you’ll demonstrate your expertise and establish credibility.
  2. Prioritize — What matters most to you, and what is just a nice-to-have? Come to the table with your priorities clearly ranked. This will ensure you don’t compromise on what’s essential. At the same time, take the time to learn what is most important to your negotiation partner. You should have a good idea before you begin, based on your research, but use the dialogue to clarify your assumptions.
  3. Cast a wide net — Talk to everyone that you can. If you know who your top choice is, try to save them for last. Talking to others can help you gather facts, practice your message, and sharpen your skills. As you negotiate, you will develop and test your strategy.
  4. Build empathy — Empathy is a critical negotiation skill that can help you understand your interlocutor better. Without empathy, you won’t understand the other side's perspective — you’ll have a huge blind spot. Luckily, empathy can be developed through dialogue. Practice talking to people, asking questions, and listening deeply.
  5. Develop confidence — Built on a foundation of empathy, confidence can strengthen you position. It’s a result of the prior steps: having done your research, knowing your and your partner's bottom line, and getting plenty of practice will give you the confidence you need to stand your ground when negotiations get tough.
  6. Use your voice — Your voice is the most powerful tool you have in a negotiation. Use it to convey sincerity, confidence, empathy, and determination. Low, slow voices have the greatest influence, but we tend to speed up when we’re nervous. Practice slowing down your voice and controlling your modulation. Modulation is controlled by throat muscles that can be trained, so if you don’t like your voice, you can always change it.
  7. Use your words — Choose your words carefully and be aware of social, cultural, and generational differences. Prepare but don’t deliver a script. Steer around buzzwords and other meaningless phrases, or use them sparingly when there isn’t a substitute. Don’t assume a share an common understanding of critical terms. Establish meaning through summarizing or paraphrasing what you have heard. Negotiation isn’t a final outcome. It occurs at each moment of the interaction and builds towards a final conclusion.
  8. Be you--Develop a negotiation style true to you. You don't need to talk a lot or loudly to get your own way. Some of the most powerful negotiators are understated people who watch and learn more than then they talk and persuade.
  9. Seek a win for all--Winning feels good, but a successful negotiation strategies aim for a win-win. Even if winning every concession is possible, it could imperil the process. If either party walks away feeling that they lost, they won’t really buy in and might sabotage the outcome. Don't accept or fight for a compromise that isn't truly viable. 

Negotiation is more than a business communication skill, it’s a strategy for life. Learning how to master this skill can help you in virtually everything you do.

Does your office phone system help you win?

One thing you shouldn't compromise on are the best solutions to build your business. At Spoke Phone we've built a next generation office phone system designed to be deployed across your mobile phone infastructure. With a smart directory to keep your contact list and call log updated, and an AI receptionist to rout calls and keep you looking professional, Spoke can give give you the professional edge you need at a fraction of the cost of traditional phone systems. To learn more about Spoke, including how our AI is powering the next generation voice UX, sign up for an interactive demo and see how to transform your mobile phone or business phone line into a smart office phone system.

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