Everything’s negotiable, but not everything should be negotiated.
Too often negotiations become about winners and losers when that’s not the point.
Both sides ratchet up the pressure on each other — and themselves — to the point where they lose sight of what they wanted in the first place.
It doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Here’s how to approach your next negotiation to ensure you get what you want.
Be honest with yourself about what you want.
“More” is not a goal.
Don’t enter a negotiation with a vague goal and don’t assume more money/responsibility/opportunity/prestige/anything is necessarily better.
You can’t get what you want from a negotiation unless you have a specific and clear idea of the result you hope to achieve.
That sounds obvious, but most negotiation goals are too vague.
In addition to a specific vision for what you want, you also need to think through what you don’t want and what you don’t value.
If it’s a job negotiation, what do you value more: money or time?
If it’s a business partnership, what do you value more: revenue or exposure?
If it’s a purchase, what do you value more: price or product specs?
Questions like these allow you to hone in on specifically what you want.
Until you can answer them, your chance of getting it is slim.
Be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to offer.
Every negotiation is an exchange of value —you’re not going to get what you want for free.
You may pay the price in different ways — money, time, effort, work, etc. — but you will pay to get what you want.
So spend as much time thinking about what you’re prepared to give up as you do what you want.
Recognize you don’t only have to justify your offering to the person you negotiate with —you also have to justify it to yourself.
Just because a deal seems fair — “This is what this product typically costs” or “That’s a competitive salary for a job like this” — doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.
We each have our own unique value system which means “industry standards” won’t necessarily align with our own.
You may be willing to give up less of something you particularly value or more of something you don’t particularly value.
Until you’ve thought through what you’re willing to give up, you’re not ready to negotiate.
Be honest with the other party about what you want and what you have to offer.
Your goal shouldn’t be a secret.
Once you have a vision for what you want, express it clearly and honestly.
There are plenty of sales people and “sharks” out there who will say that’s horrible advice, but they’re wrong. Their methods are antiquated — relics of an old system created in a world with limited transparency and limited options.
That’s not our world any more.
You’re not going to “trick” people into getting what you want.
And even if you occasionally can, it’s going to keep you from getting what you want more often than it’s going to help you get it.
Being honest about what YOU value in a negotiation increases the chances you attain it.
It also reduces the stress, hassle, frustration, and time associated with the negotiation.
You don’t have to allow other parties to determine your worth —you get to set our own value.
But in order to do that, you have to…
Be willing to walk away.
This is where it’s easy to get tripped up.
Once you’ve figured out what you want, what you’re willing to give up to get it, and honestly expressed that to the other party, you have to be willing to walk away from any deal that doesn’t match those variables.
That’s hard because it’s easy to convince yourself it will cost you an opportunity.
If I turn down this job, what if I don’t find another one that’s as good?
If I pass on this business partnership, what if my competitor benefits from it?
If I don’t make this purchase, what if I don’t find another one I want?
These can be nagging questions, but they’re based on a false premise.
You’re not walking away from something you want, you’re walking away from something you DON’T want.
Remember, you took the time to think through exactly what you wanted and what you were willing to give up to get it.
And you expressed that clearly in the negotiation.
The deal didn’t happen because this deal isn’t that. It’s not what you want.
You didn’t miss an opportunity, you avoided a mistake.
That’s how you ultimately get what you want in a negotiation — by knowing what you want, what you’re willing to give up to get it, and not settling for any less.