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Actually You Can Always Get What You Want-Skills to Help You Negotiate Like a Diplomat

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Actually You Can Always Get What You Want-Skills to Help You Negotiate Like a Diplomat

Solo and small business owners can use knowledge of negotiation just as well as corporate honchos who commandeer the massive mega-monolith empires of the business world. In fact when you’re self-employed, strong interpersonal skills are even more crucial than they are in a bigger outfit. As the face of your business, everything you or your staff presents to the world is a reflection of your brand. If you want to be perceived as capable and trustworthy, you must be able to demonstrate that you possess the polish and finesse to handle whatever your affiliates, colleagues and customers desire. You’ll need these skills at hand so you don’t even have to think about them.

Here are the simple-but-powerful secrets of top negotiating talents:

1. Skillful negotiators address the pertinent issues in order of priority.

Prepare yourself with a clear idea of what the two or three priority matters are, and which you most want to emphasize. If you reach agreement on the things that matter most to you, the person you’re talking with will probably be more likely to agree on smaller points.

Carla wants her next family vacation to be something really special-either a trip to Naples to visit her family’s roots, or Hawaii. She and her husband and son have visited relatives or done local camping trips for their past few vacations. She wants to have a memorable vacation before their adolescent son Tony grows up and moves away. She presents her point of view to her husband in this fashion: In two years, Tony will leave home and probably won’t ever take a vacation with us again; It’s reasonable to want an extravagant vacation at least once; If we plan ahead and pay attention to our spending, we will be able to afford the cost of traveling, even though it’s an ambitious trip.

2. Strong negotiators never indulge their emotions.

This includes: aggression or intimidation tactics, closed-off body language, or name-calling and accusations. Skilled negotiators maintain control and communicate cooperation and openness, at all times, with the goal of appearing reasonable and friendly.

Jed is negotiating the details of an office expansion. When he followed up with the property manager about his interest in taking the newly-vacant office suite next door as additional space, he was told it had mistakenly been rented to a new incoming tenant. What Jed thinks is, “If you had kept track of our conversation from last month, I could have moved into that space without the hassle of relocating. What an idiot. I can’t count on you for anything.” But what Jed says is, “Well, that’s disappointing. It would have been convenient for us, but let’s set a time to meet soon so I can show you exactly what our space needs are right now. I’m really under pressure to move forward with this.”

3. Good negotiators derail the defend/attack spiral.

We’ve all experienced getting caught in one of these unproductive spirals. The difference is how the successful negotiator derails destructive conflict with non-defensive behavior.

Joe and Susan are discussing how to handle a problem employee with chronic and unexplained absenteeism. Joe wants to give him more chances and Susan is alarmed at the meaning of the behavior, which she sees as irresponsible. The stress is wearing on both of them:

Conversation 1:

Joe: “I’m shocked that you’re being so mean and judgmental.”
Susan: “Mean? Are you serious? Why are we paying this guy if we can’t even count on him showing up?”
Joe: “You’re just being completely unreasonable. Whatever made me think I could run a business with you anyway? You’re such a control freak!”

Conversation 2:

Joe: “I’m shocked that you’re being so mean and judgmental.”
Susan: “You think I’m going to extremes here?”
Joe: “God yes, what are we going to do, fire everybody just because they make a couple of mistakes?”
Susan: “Well, I’m totally willing to hear you out. I just want what’s best for the business; after all, I want this to get resolved too.”
In 1, Joe and Susan go further into the vortex with each comment. In 2, Susan blocks the defend/attack spiral and makes it possible for communication to continue.

With a little practice, you can adopt these simple skills to be a natural part of your own repertoire. You’ll definitely get more of what you want in life, without coming across like a bully. In fact, these skills help you reach agreements that are more likely to leave everybody happy and lead to continued positive relationships. Try these 3 simple ideas in your business or at home-they’re equally effective in either part of your life.