5 Negotiation Strategies You Can Use Today

March 10, 2020
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Yes, you read that correctly—20% of women never negotiate. To put that into perspective, “a woman who opts not to negotiate her starting salary upon graduation will forgo an average of $7,000 the first year and will lose between $650,000 and $1 million over the course of a 45-year career,” according to Harvard Business Review. In the interest of closing the gender pay gap, let’s start by narrowing the gender negotiation gap.

At some point in your career, you’re going to have to negotiate—it’s just a fact. Whether you’re asking for a raise, starting a new job, selling a product, or hiring your first employee, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you need to advocate for yourself and know your worth. Ahead we’re breaking down five negotiation strategies will make it easier for you to close the deal. Let’s get into it!

Be Prepared

Go into a negotiation with as much background knowledge as possible. This means you have to do your research! If you have a meeting with your boss about a raise, investigate what others in your position are earning in your company and in the market. If you’re negotiating a sale price, know the market for that particular product and know how much others are selling it for.

Likewise, know what you’re bringing to the table. Anticipate some of the more challenging issues that may arise and know how you’re going to handle them. Practice tip – put yourself in the other side’s shoes—what would they want to know? What concerns might they have?

Have a Flexible Bottom Line

People sometimes use a “bottom line” to gauge when they are willing to walk away from a negotiation. The better practice is to use a flexible bottom line. Things can change during the negotiation—new facts pop up, new options are on the table, or you realize that the bottom line you established before is simply unrealistic. Being flexible enables you to consider all of the possibilities before deciding it’s time to walk away. 

Choose an Interest-Based Approach: Ask Questions & Listen to the Answers

There are two “types” of negotiation: distributive (a.k.a. positional), and integrative (a.k.a. interest-based). Positional is a win-lose mentality—there is one pizza and we are splitting it. Interest-based is a win-win mentality—there is one pizza and we are enlarging it.

The key in interest-based negotiation is identifying the other side’s interests. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask, “Why?” 

For example, two kids are having a fight over an orange. Both kids take the position that they want the whole orange. If their parent cuts the orange in half and gives half to each kid, they would be using a distributive approach. But if the parent decides to ask each kid why they want the whole orange, they would be using the interest-based approach. Kid A tells the parent that they just loves oranges and they want to eat it. Kid B says they want the orange peel to use in baking some cookies. The parent gives the whole orange to Kid A, Kid B gets the whole orange peel, and everyone is happy.

By simply asking the kids “why” they wanted the orange, the parent was able to ascertain each kid’s respective interests and realize that their interests did not conflict. 

Brainstorm Ideas Without Judgement

After you’ve figured out the other side’s interests, brainstorm ideas and encourage the other side to do the same. Don’t immediately throw any of the ideas out. Instead, after both sides have come up with every possible solution, go through each one and talk about why an idea is satisfactory or not satisfactory. Use your flexible bottom line and your intentions to evaluate the ideas, but remember to be open-minded.

Don’t Lose Your Cool 

Sometimes parties reach an impasse—and that’s okay. But don’t flip out on the other side and jeopardize all of the time and work you’ve put into this, and even worse, jeopardize your relationship with the other side. Separate the people from the problem. Take a break and resume, if possible, when both parties have had time to cool off. Always be gracious and take the high road. Professionalism ensures a win-win in the long run.

This post was originally published on December 16, 2018, and has since been updated.

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