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You Can Negotiate Anything is the title of a self-help book written by Herb Cohen that was published in 1982 and was on the New York Times Best Seller list for nearly a year.  As a practicing negotiator with three decades of negotiation to his name, Cohen has lectured at leading educational institutions and per his website; he has been enmeshed “in some of the world’s headline dramas from hostile takeovers to hostage negotiations.”

It may be that Cohen was just a born negotiator, assuming there is a gene for such a skill. But whatever talent Cohen has; anyone can learn to be just as effective as he is.  No matter how much you may dislike negotiation because you perceive it as confrontation, negotiating is an inevitable part of business whether in dealing with customers, employees, business associates or suppliers for retail or professional products.  Always saying “yes” to terms you do not find agreeable can have disastrous results in the long run.

Tips for negotiating success

Before you go into any negotiation, know what you want to achieve. If you are negotiating with a property management company or individual about leasing space, know what the going rates are. Don’t wait to find out during the meeting and then scramble to come up with a counter offer. Knowing what commercial leasing rates are in advance enables you to provide options when the negotiating starts. For example, you may end up paying the price but get more things added to the buildout of the space, or you may negotiate for no increase in rates for a longer number of years than original offered.

Other things you’ll want to do:

Be positive: One of the key things to keep in mind when negotiating is to be positive.  Assume things will work out the way you want and enter into the negotiation from that position.

Do research: Find out as much as you can about the objectives of the other party. Talk to others who do business with the party you are negotiating with. Go online and see if there’s any news or commentary in social media. There’s also nothing to stop you from being direct and asking the party what they hope to achieve from the negotiation. The other party may expect you to be equally forthright about your expectations.

Have facts and figures: To help support your position, provide as much information as possible. Doing so can help the other party resolve any ambivalent feelings they may have about your position.

Listen: Just as you should provide as much data as possible about your position, also listen to the other side. Ask probing questions if the other party isn’t forthcoming. The more you understand the other party, the better you can come to a mutually satisfying agreement.

Avoid emotion: The key to negotiating is to stay cool and be diplomatic at all times. When things remain calm and peaceful, you have a better chance of reaching mutually acceptable goals.

You don’t have to dread negotiating. Know what you want, ask for it and be prepared to make some adjustments as you engage in order to come to an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. Stay firm and if the deal doesn’t feel right, be prepared to walk away.