The introverts' guide to negotiation: 14 steps to success!

If you find that you break into a cold sweat just thinking about negotiation, whether tackling a talk about your salary, bartering for cash off your first car or even just deciding what to watch at the cinema with your mates – don’t worry, you are not alone!

You don’t have to be a ruthless ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ or model yourself on ‘The Apprentice’ candidates to master the skill of negotiation. Read on and we’ll help you not only think about negotiation differently, but also learn how to do it like a boss.

Negotiation is a skill that nobody is born with. But it’s a skill that will help you at work, in business and in life... and it's one that you can practice with others until you can do it with ease, even if inside you’re cringing. Follow our simple steps to start negotiating like a boss:

  1. Re-frame the issue. Negotiation is not a competition. Think of it as just a conversation - a chance for you to communicate your preferences and hopefully both ‘get on the same page’. (See our jargon-buster for more business terms like this.)

  2. Smile! It's a scientific fact that chemical messages are released when we smile. The messages tell our brain that we are ‘happy’, which in turn can bring about actual feelings of happiness. Exactly what you need in moments of angst!

  3. Don’t predict how the other person will react or presume they will automatically oppose what you want. If you approach a chat with an open mind, you won’t be disappointed or surprised at the outcome and can react appropriately.

  4. Practise. Have a conversation with yourself, and hone the specific points you want to cover. The more often you say the words out loud, the better you’ll feel when it comes to saying them in the moment of negotiation. You can also work on your pace (not too fast) and your tone (clear, measured and confident), which are crucial in the art of negotiation.

  5. Note it down. There’s no rule that says you can’t write down what you want to say before you start your negotiations. Bullet points often work best - just list the key points you want to share and refer to them during the negotiation to make sure you’re on track and haven’t missed anything. You could also write down anything that you want to refer back to, either during the negotiation or at a later date.

  6. Cut to the chase. Don’t waffle or over-explain yourself. Keep it simple. Know what you are asking for and why. Keeping a chat short and sweet will also help keep your nerves in check.

  7. Don’t argue. Have you heard the phrase ‘you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’? Well, going on the offensive never helped anyone in the long-term and can create a negative atmosphere between colleagues or friends, even if you initially get your way.

  8. Avoid making an emotional bid. Keep your request logical. Stick to the facts, and if you find yourself in a defensive position, pause, take deep breaths and resume the conversation. At another time, if necessary.

  9. Stay calm. If you’re not saying things quite how you planned and it’s all going a bit wrong, don’t panic! The best of us get our words mashed up sometimes. Simply pause... breathe... take a moment or two to gather your thoughts, and continue.

  10. Get factual. Do your research! If, for example, you know you can get a cheaper deal on a product elsewhere, or should be earning a certain amount more, then arm yourself with the facts and share them to make a reasoned, calm argument in your favour.

  11. Listen to their point of view. Understanding the other person’s position is useful when trying to bridge the gap between what you want, and what they can realistically offer.

  12. ... But have your say. While it's important to listen, it's imperative that you also get to say what you need to. If the person you’re negotiating with interrupts you mid-flow, it’s tempting to speak over them. The problem is, no one gets heard when everyone's talking! So, let them finish what they are saying, gently remind them that you hadn’t said all you needed to say, and politely ask that they don’t interrupt again. Then pick up where you were. This is about you standing your ground in how the conversation goes, as well as what is said.

  13. Read the room. Every negotiation will be as different as the individual you are talking to. Adapt your approach depending on how well you know the other person, and whether this is a professional setting or causal situation.

  14. Look for the silver lining. No negotiation, even one that doesn’t turn out with you getting what you want, is a waste. You have just put forward your point of view and communicated your needs and wants to another person. Give yourself credit for this! It means in future people will know your aims and might try to help you achieve them. You have planted a seed, and if it doesn’t bear fruit right away, acknowledge the fact you have still succeeded in putting your point across.

If all else fails, you can remember what actress, writer, and comedian Carrie Fisher said:

Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.

May the force of negotiation be with you!

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