Does the idea of negotiating totally turn you off?

I used to dread having to negotiate. In fact, I’d avoid negotiating, if at all possible. To sidestep a potential (and most likely imaginary) confrontation, I would just not engage in negotiating. At all.

Maybe this is your approach, too. Negotiations don’t have to be horrible experiences, though, and unfortunately, the cost of not negotiating can impact your career, your bank account, and your self-fulfillment.

Negotiation is the process by which people with different goals or needs reach a mutual agreement or find a solution to an issue. The word “negotiation” often has negative associations with it, and many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating because they assume that it involves some kind of conflict. However, we negotiate in various situations every day – with our family and friends, our colleagues, and complete strangers. Negotiations don’t have to involve bad behavior or angry feelings. Approaching each negotiation situation from the standpoint of wanting to achieve a win-win outcome can help you avoid unpleasant encounters and maintain positive relationships.

If you dread negotiating, or feel awkward in situations where you can (or should) negotiate, here are six quick tips to give you confidence that you can find that win-win resolution.

1. Do your research. Know the details about the topic to be discussed. Know who you’ll be talking to and what specifically you can offer them. You can approach the negotiation with confidence when you know both the facts and the limits of the conversation.

2. Find out what the other person needs or wants. If you can find out what the other person’s perspective is, you will be in a better position to work with them to find a mutually satisfying resolution. You can ask questions like, “What do you need from me on this?” or “What are your concerns about this?”

3. Specify what you need. Talking about what you need and why you need it can help the other person understand where you’re coming from and give them insight into why you’re asking for certain things. You both might also realize that while you’re approaching things differently, the end goal is ultimately the same for both of you.

4. Prepare options. Know going into the conversation that you will need to compromise. Think about what alternatives or options you’re comfortable with if your original proposal isn’t accepted. Think about why the other person may resist and be prepared to talk about a solution that may be more attractive to them.

5. Avoid arguing or trying to “win.” When one person is trying to prove the other person wrong, there is no progress. Disagreeing with the other person is fine – just state your position in an assertive way and move on. Avoid getting into a power struggle.

6. Take a time out, if needed. If one of you is angry, stressed, distracted, or tired, successfully negotiating will be much more difficult. It’s OK to take a “time out” or reschedule the conversation for a better time.

If you can use these techniques and strategies when negotiating, you’ll find that you dread the process less. You may also find that you enjoy working together with the other person to find a solution that works for you both.

What techniques do you use when negotiating? Post them here!