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Negotiating for Business Professionals

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/27/2011

If a list of negotiation techniques was as simple to follow as the instructions for putting together a small appliance, virtually anyone could do it. That being said, negotiation is a subtle give and take and requires insight into basic human needs.How can you gain an edge?

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    Understanding the Need for Negotiation

    Woodrow Wilson and the American peace commissioners during the negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles; photo by Joseph45/Wikimedia Commons (public domain) Negotiation techniques do not make sense unless the background behind them is clear. In simplest terms, negotiation is part and parcel of a dialog that seeks to:

    • End a dispute
    • Result in a mutually beneficial agreement
    • Determine duties, remuneration and incentives
    • Put aside personal differences for the sake of a common goal

    Job seekers are familiar with negotiation when it comes to determining the pay they are to receive for their work. A company that cannot afford to pay an applicant what she is worth may offer additional time off or stock options as an incentive. Of course, other areas of professional and daily life also rely quite heavily on negotiation tactics.

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    Closing the Deal

    Getting to ‘yes’ in a sales environment requires more than simply a winning personality and a good product. Sales negotiation training frequently includes lessons on the power of seating arrangements and even the site selection for the sales meeting. Moreover, no sales negotiation would be complete without flexibility to give -- and self-discipline that does not betray an opponent’s advantage.

    Within the sales environment, negotiation techniques include:

    • Formulation of a primary objective (i.e. the bottom line price a product must fetch for a sale to be profitable)
    • Formation of a negotiation team (i.e. a sales team or even a primary seller and her assistant)
    • Collaboration to close the deal (the phrase “what will it take to get you to buy this car today” was coined in this environment)
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    Salary Discussions

    Salary negotiation tips advise professionals that the first offer is usually not the bottom line the employer is willing to accept. Instead, it is more like an opening salvo and there is some leeway. However, applicants engaged in a salary negotiation are afraid that coming off too strong may actually kill the deal and cost them the job offer. Thus, a happy middle ground is a key element.

    Salary negotiation techniques differ slightly from those employed in the sales environment:

    • Objectivity and self-control allow the jobseeker to determine how far to go when asking for a higher pay rate
    • Creation of trust and establishment of a ‘we’ as opposed to an ‘us vs. them’ atmosphere positions the job seeker as already belonging to the team; this gets the prospective employer to lower his guard
    • Compromise, such as comes in the form of incentives negotiations, is another technique employed when discussing salary
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    Cross-cultural Business Negotiation

    The global marketplace demands negotiations at many turns. Due to cultural differences, negotiation techniques in this setting are tricky. Even though backgrounds make some forms of negotiation tools inappropriate, basic techniques are not so unfamiliar to Americans:

    • Determining issues and objectives is an exercise that helps establish the wants and needs of all participants
    • Adversarial or collaborative tactics are directly opposed approaches and are employed in response to the objectives discovered earlier
    • Nonverbal tactics; even if the mouth says ‘yes,’ body language can say something completely different. Using both in harmony or in calculated discord is a psychological tactic employed by skilled negotiators
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    Is a List of Negotiation Techniques Sufficient?

    Due to the complexity of human discourse, a list of techniques is only as useful as the intuitive skill of the negotiator who uses it. For example, contract negotiations may fail simply because the negotiator was unable to create trust. Diplomatic negotiations can fail due to improper use of body language.

    It is vital to understand that no amount of mock interviews and negotiation sessions can truly prepare the professional for the ‘real thing.’ Even so, advanced training – such as it is offered by an accelerated online master’s degree in conflict management – is a definite plus.

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    Source

    • Kendall College of Art and Design. "Negotiating Your Salary" at http://www.kcad.edu/uploads/docs/Negotiating-Your-Salary.pdf (accessed May 29, 2011)