As a leader, one task that you will face is engaging in negotiations, whether with vendors, other department heads, or with employees. Negotiation is when two (or more) parties “exchange goods or services and attempt to agree on the exchange rate for them” (Robbins & Judge, 2022, pg. 242).
When you enter into a negotiation of any kind, one major ally will be keeping your emotions in check. It’s the one time when it makes a big difference. If your counter-party sees any signs of emotion, he or she will be sure to capitalize on it by using it against you. Emotions can run away in the heat of a moment, spiraling the situation out of control.
Excitement is the first emotion to manage. Don’t let the other party know that you will do whatever it takes to make the deal. Do you want that beautiful new sports car in red? Show the dealer that you have no problems walking away if you don’t get the right deal.
An exception to the excitement rule is when you enter the negotiation with someone else with the intent of playing “good cop/bad cop.” In this instance, one of you should be overly emotional about making the deal, while the other puts a damper on the whole thing. The key is to get the counter-party as excited as you are and, in turn, spend a lot of time in the process; the time has already been spent, and it is worth it for the counter-party to make a deal at that point.
Another great tactic when negotiating is to use silence to your advantage. People hate any uncomfortable amount of time passing with nothing spoken. The longer you wait it out in silence, the more you can get the other party to open up. Being silent is not easy for anyone to master as most of us are used to quick exchanges when we converse with others; we don’t always have to respond right away. Take a few deep breath, or inform the other party that you need a few seconds before answering. This will help you get calmer and think clearly.
If you find you are not good at negotiation, bring in someone who is. You may know someone who is great at it. If not, you can look for people who do enjoy the negotiation process and who are successful at it. Of course, leaders need to staying up with events going on, and stepping in when necessary.
Using these tips can help you become a better negotiator. However, the best tip is to practice at it. Only through practice will you learn what works best for you and gives you the ability to experiment with new methods or techniques. It’s important to remember that we don’t always get what we want, and neither will the other party, which is why negotiating can bring a win-win for all.
If you’d like to brush up on your negotiating and listening skills, reach out to learn more.