8 Ways to Never Lose Another Negotiation


Oct 21, 2016

Whether you’re negotiating your salary, employment terms, or the price on your next car, a lot of things in life require negotiation.

When you’re able to negotiate well you gain access to better opportunities. And fortunately negotiation is a skill that you can improve.

When you start putting these 8 effective tips backed by science into practice, you’ll be winning more negotiations.


1. Start Aggressively

Far too often people are too timid with their first offer. Adam Galinsky a negotiation scholar at Columbia University notes that when people first enter a negotiation, their first offers are too cautious.

On HBS Working Knowledge, Galinsky uses the example of selling a house to illustrate this.

When a seller starts with a higher price, they’re much more likely to end with a higher settlement, he says. When the price is higher people naturally focus on the good attributes.

By starting your next negotiation aggressively, you will also be able to make small concessions and still wind up with a better outcome than if you started with a timid offer. When you start small you don’t give yourself any room to move.


2. Make the First Offer

The first offer creates an anchor that makes it very hard to move far away from. When you’re the person who makes the first offer, you have a lot more control over the outcome.

Kellogg management professor Leigh Thompson says it is vital for you to make the first offer. Even if the number is ridiculous, it unconsciously influences the outcome.


3. Understand the Situation

Next time you find yourself in a negotiation, take a step back and recognize whether it is a long-term or short-term negotiation scenario.

Most of life’s negotiations are long-term.

As Thompson notes in “The Mind and the Heart of the Negotiator,” there are only a few examples of short-term negotiation. He uses the example of a diner and a wait staff at a roadside restaurant. Other short-term negotiations could be when you’re negotiating the price on something you’re selling.

But for long-term negotiations, you need to also monitor the impression you’re making. If you’re negotiating salary for instance, you don’t want to focus only on the money and leave a bad impression at the start.


4. Mirror the Other Person’s Behavior

Many studies have verified that when people have rapport for each other, they mimic behaviors like body language and speech patterns.

When a Stanford-Northwestern-INSEAD study asked participants to mimic the behavior of the other negotiator, the results were astounding.

They didn’t just get a better deal, but both parties walked away with more.


5. Know How Low You Can Go

Known as the “reservation value” to scholars, before entering a negotiation you must know your bottom.

Although we always hope to do much better than our reservation value, knowing what yours is protects you from accidentally taking a deal you shouldn’t have.

Plus it also provides you with a point of reference when determining if this deal works for you.

Knowing your reservation value also helps your negotiation psychology. When you have an anchor set in your mind, you’ll be less influenced by the other person’s offer.


6. Focus on Your Potential

In a Stanford-Harvard study, evidence emerged that showed that a person’s potential is more valued during a negotiation than their past accomplishments.

The study’s authors noted that the uncertainty associated with what someone has the potential to do in the future is more engaging than just looking at their past.

During your next negotiation, share what you will bring to the company and the value you’ll add rather than just listing off past accomplishments.


7. Share Something Personal

When Northwestern and Stanford students were asked to negotiate over email, some went straight to business.

Other students talked about their hometowns and other personal details.

Startlingly those that shared personal details reached an agreement 59% of the time, while the business-only students negotiated an agreement only 40% of the time.

Especially during those tense moments at the negotiated table, take some time to get to know the other negotiator and share some information about yourself. You’ll be more likely to reach an agreement.


8. Keep Your Options Open

The best negotiators, Neil Rackham notes, negotiate everything as a whole rather than taking on one piece at a time.

“Sequencing” items limits outcomes. By negotiating salary first and not talking about vacation time, you lose the chance to generate creative solutions.

By leaving your options open, you can suggest trading a bonus or vacation time for a higher salary. Take a big-picture view and you’ll find more ways to reach the outcome you want.

Are you excited to put some of these tips into practice during your next negotiation? You should be. With these 8 scientifically-backed tips, you’ll be negotiating better deals and getting more of what you want.

  About The Author  

Amit is the Managing Partner at Sandbox Advisors and is an experienced career, business and HR professional. Previously, he has worked with organisations such as Bain & Company, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Amit has advanced degrees/qualifications in Career Counselling, Organisational Psychology & HR, Occupational Psychometrics, Career/Life Coaching & Business.

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