You may play a key role in negotiations at work. You may even enjoy the negotiation process and the give and take. So, after the small talk, how do you get the negotiation underway?

Negotiation is simply a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. This is often referred to as inter-play. It isn’t something to be afraid of. Simply start the conversation like any other.

Invite the other party to go first, “Tell me what you are thinking?” It is important to listen first and to understand their positions, reservations, and hesitations. The other party will probably also share their needs, wants, and hopes.

It is important to listen first because you will have more credibility when you respond and they will believe you are taking their perspective in mind in your response.

You can also now bracket your offer based upon their initial position. If they said 10 and you need 9, you can counter with 8, it is amazing how often you end up agreeing in the middle.

However, if you do have to start and share your thoughts first, keep these two tips in mind.

Ask for more than you expect to get…and imply flexibility. Asking for more than you expect to get is often referred to as your maximum plausible position. The ideal numbers, terms, and conditions. There are some good reasons to do this: you might just get it, it provides negotiating room, and it helps prevent deadlock.

The second step is to imply flexibility by saying something like, “We may be able to modify our offer, however, based upon our current understanding of quickness, quantity, and quality, this is where we are at and what we are thinking.”

Don’t worry about making a mistake. Nothing has been signed. Just carry on the conversation. Negotiation should not be something to worry about. Stress…needs not to be involved. A few shared interests, some open and honest conversations, and some time to think…that’s what negotiation is all about.

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