John F. Kennedy once said, “let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” In today’s business environment, these words especially ring true. Negotiating a good business deal is about creating opportunities to influence and to achieve positive outcomes for all parties involved. Here are some tips to help ensure smooth and successful negotiations.

Establish Priorities that Reflect Your Company’s Values

Before beginning any negotiation, take into consideration the core values of the company. Here are three steps to follow:

  1. Brainstorm, question, and define your company’s core values.
  2. Evaluate your values as a complete set.
  3. Implement clear and concise company policies that reflect the core values.

Based on these values, you should set their own boundaries, priorities, and points that are not negotiable.

Learn to Read Non-Verbal Cues

The ability to read non-verbal cues, such as subtle gestures and expressions, can allow a negotiator a glimpse into how well the negotiation process is going (or if it is breaking down). For example, when your negotiation partner leans into the conversation, it is often a sign that they are engaged. However, if your counterpart leans back, away from the conversation, it may be time to try another tactic.

A talented negotiator may have great control over their body, but micro-expressions don’t lie. For example, the lifting of one side of the mouth could be interpreted as the beginning of a smile, a smirk, or a sign of contempt or anger. It is worth doing a bit of research into how to interpret these minute signals.

Look in the Mirror

Experts have found that mirroring the vocal tone, behavior, and/or body language of your counterpart can create a sense of connection with them. According to an article published by Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, “mimicry seems to make us feel comfortable with others and encourage us to trust them. In fact, professor Tanya Chartrand of Duke University has found that we tend to view those who mimic our movements when they talk to us as more persuasive and honest than those who do not mimic us.”

Be a Great Listener

Successful negotiators are great listeners. Oftentimes, what is not being said during negotiations may be more important than what is being said. Here are three tips to be a better listener:

  1. Enter the negotiations with a list of questions for the other party instead of a list of arguments you want to make.
  2. Make a commitment to understanding the other party’s perspective well enough to summarize it.
  3. Remember, being a good listener takes a lot of practice. Take every opportunity possible to be a great listener.

Though it is sometimes difficult, listening and keeping quiet may lead to the best outcome.

Always Play Fair

A successful negation is one in which both parties feel as if they have come out on top. Playing hardball may end up causing irreparable damage to you or your company’s reputation – and that is a risk that is not worth taking.

Would you like more advice on how to hone your negotiating skills? Contact me today!