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Let’s Make a Deal: The Art of Negotiation

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

By Diane Moore

For managers, negotiation comes with the territory. You may have to negotiate with employees to improve performance, with clients about contracts, or with senior management on department goals. Here are four principles for successful negotiations:

1. Be clear about negotiables and non-negotiables. 

Identify and write down your bottom line and what you’re willing to flex on. Brian Tracy, author of Negotiation, recommends having three possible outcomes in mind: best, medium and worst. What is the best outcome you hope for? Ask for this initially, so you have room to negotiate if the other person counters. What’s an intermediate outcome—not your best result but a good second choice? What’s your bottom line—the point below which you are not willing to go? Establish all this in advance to get the best chance of achieving what you want.

2. Aim for win-win deals. 

This is particularly important when negotiating with people whom you want to maintain a long-term relationship. Before beginning a negotiation, consider your opponent’s position and solutions that might satisfy you both. Using a “my way or the highway” approach may be necessary in extreme situations, (e.g., dealing with a poorly performing employee) but routinely using the win-lose style will damage relationships, making others reluctant to negotiate with you in the future.

3. Manage your emotions.

Good negotiators maintain a calm, reasoned approach in their discussions with others. If emotions start to influence the discussion, suggest taking a break. Keeping your emotions under control and your head clear will allow you to think more strategically and respond more effectively.

4. Know your backup plan. 

If your minimum outcome is not satisfied, what’s your plan B? By having another option in mind, you are less likely to agree to a deal that’s not in your favor.

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