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Take the sting out of horse-trading

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in Office Management

Just because you hate negotiating doesn’t mean you have to show it. Even if sweat beads up on your forehead before you haggle with a vendor or talk salary with your boss, you need to plow forward with confidence.

Here’s how:

Strike a collaborative note. If you dread negotiating, your discomfort may appear as distrust or dislike for the “other side.” You may sit across the table with your arms folded, wearing a suspicious or anxious look. If you act overly stiff or serious, others might view you as shady or conniving.

Take a different tack. Sit closer to the person so that you’re positioned as partners rather than adversaries. Try to have some fun, or at least act naturally. Take a “let’s hash out some solutions” approach as you exchange ideas, make suggestions and listen for clues as to what’s negotiable.

Play the friendly interrogator. Poor negotiators wind up answering questions rather than asking them. Avoid falling into a conversational rhythm in which others keep quizzing you and you’re divulging streams of information. The more you blab, the more you lose your advantage.

Instead, tie questions to your statements so that you’re the one who’s extracting facts. Examples: “I can’t wait to get started. Are you ready to commit to a final plan today?” Or: “I’m comfortable with my budget. Do you have budget targets?”

Evade smoothly. Feel free to evade issues you prefer not to discuss. Don’t stammer or sound defensive if you’re put on the spot. Instead, change the subject.

Example: If you’re asked for a range within which you’ll settle, don’t fall for it. Say, “More important is ... ” or “There are some other things I’d like to address first.” Never volunteer numbers unless you intend to use a take-it-or-leave-it stance.

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