Set your goals in advance.
Whether you are looking for a raise or you want to negotiate more flexible work hours, knowing what you want to achieve before heading into a negotiation is “the golden rule” for negotiating – but most people ignore it. Without a plan, you allow the opposing party to define your goals instead of the other way around.
Understand the other person’s objectives.
The most valuable thing you can do is correctly identify the other person’s top priorities. Oftentimes the other person’s goals are not at odds with yours, and you are able to give them what they want so they feel as if they have won.
Yes, negotiating is about money and the bottom line, but a lot of times, it’s much more emotional and complex than that.
Realizing that the economic outcome may not be the other party’s top priority gives you more chips to play with and will enable you to achieve better results than you may have anticipated.
Negotiate in person, preferably on your own turf.
Do not negotiate by email. It is a cop-out that benefits the weaker party by allowing them to avoid a direct confrontation and take more time to craft a strong response. And it is easy to misjudge tone over email, which could be an issue. Always prefer to speak face-to-face, typically in a place where you feel the most comfortable.
Pay attention to your body language.
The way in which you carry yourself, even when seated at a desk, matters. The most of our communication is nonverbal and that messages are often conveyed through our facial expressions, gestures, posture, and audible elements, like sighs.
Don’t fidget. Don’t pick your nails or tap your foot. Don’t sit on the edge of your seat because it could make you look overeager. Don’t hunch over and drum your nails because it could communicate aggression or frustration. Don’t cross your arms protectively because it could make you appear meek and intimidated. Act always open.
Regardless of how fast your heart may be beating, sit upright, make eye contact, and focus on breathing evenly.
Listen more than you speak.
When people are uncomfortable, and many people are when they have to negotiate, they start rambling as a way to fill the vacuum of silence. Some of the strongest negotiators I know just sit back and listen. The less they engage, the more likely the other person is to slip up and offer information they otherwise would have kept guarded.
Be prepared to walk away.
If things are getting too heated or you cannot seem to get on the same page regarding terms, you can always suggest taking a few days to think about things and reconnect. Negotiations can get back on track pretty quickly when you allow people the time to cool off.