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Learn the Rules of the Game – How to Win Negotiations

Imagine the following scenario: you’re getting ready for a tennis match. You have a great good racquet in your hand and you’re looking forward to playing and giving it your best. As soon as you arrive at the court you realize that your opponent has prepared a table and two chairs on the side where there’s a chess board packed with pawns, knights, and rooks. Are you prepared to play the game?

The scenario we just mentioned has been played out millions of times before, except not with a chess board or a tennis racquet, but in a business negotiation. One side of the table comes with a clear understanding of the rules of the game, yet the opponent changes everything and prepares a whole new set. So the question is this: are you ready to play tennis, so as to arrive at the negotiation table to play chess?

How to win negotiations following the rules of the game

In a business negotiation, parties negotiate after the rules of the games have been laid out on the table. It’s important for both parties to be articulate and agree to mutually-favorable bargains. What are the terms and conditions of the negotiation? The whole process can be nerve-racking, time-consuming, and often irritating, so in order to avoid such situations, establishing the rules of the game from the very start might be an ideal way of winning. In business, rules are NOT meant to be broken, they’re meant to save business people precious time, boost the prospects of cooperation, and avoid misunderstandings.

Preparation is the key to winning a negotiation

You probably heard this a million times, so we’re going to say this again: you can’t win negotiations if you’re not prepared. A lot of people assume that negotiating a deal is a matter of win or lose. The truth is a successful negotiation is in fact a process of communication where all parties strive to attain a mutually-favorable result. A competent negotiator doesn’t want to bargain with a defeated counterpart looking for payback, because he’s well aware that sometimes (not always) a win-win solution can be a lot more advantageous. Mutual solutions build relationships that might benefit your business later on in life. The ten rules of win-win negotiations are:

  1. Listening carefully to what your opponent has to say
  2. Being flexible and open
  3. Not being afraid to ask questions
  4. Offering more than one solution
  5. Separating problems from people
  6. Anticipating your wants and the wants of your opponent
  7. Ensuring that if your opponent wins a bigger share of the prize, the result doesn’t affect you goals
  8. Being patient
  9. Having a BATNA
  10. Knowing the BATNA of your opponent

Have your eyes on the prize

Skilled negotiators possess one great quality: the ability to focus on their target goals in spite of latent risks. Research shows that focused business people are more able to win negotiations because they constantly have their eyes on the ultimate prize. They’re promotion-focused which means they see goals and great opportunities from which they have something to gain. Each and every time we think about positive end goals we start feeling a lot more aware of the risks and we are not that focused on the things that what might go wrong anymore. On the other hand, we have prevention-focused people who think about end goals from the perspective of a losing negotiator. Their goal is to stay safe, not take chances, and make sure everything goes by the book.

Prior to entering a negotiation, spend a couple of minutes to dwell on your aspirations. What is the final outcome you hope to attain? A smart negotiator writes things down; it’s as simple as that. Grab a pen and start writing the things you’re hoping to achieve and make sure to shut out any ideas that your negotiation might go wrong. Just don’t be negative and if you want to succeed, follow the rules. In business, just like with everything in life, practice makes perfect. As long as you’re focused on your goals and you’re not scared to reach them, the process will come naturally after you’ve gained enough experience.

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

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