Ever realized that negotiations play a major role in your life?
What to eat for breakfast, where to go for vacation and how to get a discount, as well as your starting salary, your promotion, and eventually your severance package – those are but a minor sample of the items that you have to negotiate daily, whether you recognize this fact or not.
And do not forget such things as speeding tickets or court hearings: things happen. Even when you have nothing to lose (the cashier erroneously charged you full price for a discounted item), it will take you considerably less time to get your money back AND rip the possible benefits, if you know the rules of the game.
Some of us are “lucky” to get a good deal or get out of trouble unscathed, while others are getting the short end of the stick with striking regularity. The good news is that you can be the lucky one if you know how to negotiate, and those are learnable skills.
Want to join the lucky gang?
In a minute, I will share with you the 7 key points to remember during everyday negotiations at work, at home – anywhere and everywhere. First, let’s look at a real-life situation.
Business case: True story #1
It is 6:15 a.m., and I am driving to the office early in order to beat the traffic and get there really soon. I am cutting through the dark doing 60 in a 30-clicks residential zone. All of a sudden, I hear this particular blaring sound and see the flashing blue-white-red lights in the rearview mirror…
Not surprising, at 6:15 in the morning, the cop is very cautious approaching the speeding vehicle. And that’s good: It will be a nice surprise to him to see a polite and sober gentleman demonstrating his complete submission and accepting their undoubted superiority on the road. That’s me! Because my goal is to get out of the trouble soonest and without penalty.
I replied to his greeting, “Good morning, Sir. How am I doing? – I was doing just great until this very moment.” Somehow that cracked him and he could not but smile.
He asked the usual second question, if I knew why he had to stop me. By the way, I zoomed through the stop sign among other things. Pretty bad actually.
“I am sorry, Officer, I must have been carried away, you know, the road is free and my head is in the office already… I have never had a speeding ticket – check my file. I am really sorry and I will be more attentive from now on, promise. What else can I do to ensure safe driving?”
After a quick check, he came back and confirmed that I had a clean record. He asked me if I had seen the Stop sign. I repeated the above paragraph. Finally, he handed me the documents. “One last time. Drive safely and have a nice day!” – “Merci, à vous aussi.”
The technique worked. One last time is good enough to never have a speeding ticket.
Did you get the technique? If you go through the business case above, you will see that the successful encounter with Police actually had all the following seven points covered.
7 points of successful everyday negotiation – based on personal experience
- GOAL. Before you start the negotiations (or any endeavor, as a matter of fact) clarify your GOAL. Make sure that the goal of the negotiations you are getting into is clear at least to you.
- LOVE. Make the other party feel comfortable. To get in the groove, think that you LOVE your counterpart. Stay positive and playful. Soft voice will then come naturally. Smile (it affects the timbre of your voice in a very likable way). Be polite and kind overall.
- MIRROR. I hope you are aware of this trick. Basically, repeat the last words, copy the body language, “be alike.” That makes the other party more comfortable, human beings are wired this way. The technique is dumb simple: repeat the last three words.
“The last three words?..” – You got it!
- APOLOGIZE. Start everything with an apology.
“I beg your pardon? Why would I have to …” – Like that, exactly.
- GET PERSONAL. Switch to a first-name basis – but softly. Do not abuse the other party’s name. Dale Carnegie might have been wrong here. A person’s name may the sweetest sound but nobody wants you to use this private sound right away. It is different with each person. Perhaps you share your name first.
- ASK and let the other side talk. Ask only open-ended questions. Instead of asking, “Could I get a discount?” – ask “What discount do you have today?” Surprised, they will ask you to explain. Don’t be afraid to come up with ridiculous reasons. I ask, “Do you happen to have Sergei’s discount today?” You’d be surprised to know how often they do have it. Just keep them interested, amused, and stay positive even if they do not give in.
It is not over until you win.
7. REPEAT. If it does not work the first time, try again: smile – mirror – apologize – ask, now using the person’s first name. What do you have to lose?
True story #2
One of my senior clients, Production VP of a refinery, was shopping for a bunch of fancy locks and doorknobs for his new country house. Technically, he could afford to buy the entire stock without ever bothering to check the price. But he was my coachee, so I couldn’t let that happen.
We dedicated a coaching session to his forthcoming shopping spree. A few days later, he rushed into my office with the good news: “I got 25% discount!” He was extremely proud of the achievement and admitted that the new skill helped a lot in the office.
He also mentioned that his family relations have improved.
The Bottom Line
Does this negotiation technique always work? Of course not.
With regular practice, however, you will notice that you get lucky more and more often. And if these best practices do not help – nothing will. Regardless of the outcome, it is a good exercise and it develops a skill set that is essential for every professional to have.
Try these points at work or at a retail store near you – and get immediate results!
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