Negotiating does not have to be a sweat session. Matter of fact, if you use these key principles, negotiating becomes a fun event. The four key things are:

  1. your attitude going in to the negotiation
  2. your focus on an outcome instead of the process
  3. your ability to read the other person’s thoughts through their body language
  4. and your ability to speak and think positively from the other person’s perspective.

In this article we are going to look at how to plan a negotiation since that affects your attitude going in and it affects the outcome you work towards. Whether you are negotiating for a raise, a job promotion, with a client or with a coworker, you need to know what you want to get out of the negotiation. And you need to know this from the other person’s perspective, not yours. You might be thinking, what are you saying???

Before you even begin to negotiate you need to plan. If you know in advance that you are going in for a job interview or a raise you might have a lot of time to plan. But there are other times where this planning will need to happen in a split second because you won’t be prepared to negotiate at the time the other party approaches you. The following strategies work whether you have days or only minutes to prepare and can move you from being positional in your negotiating to being Outcome Focused®.

Since I will be using these two terms let’s quickly define them. Positional bargaining is where you stick to what it is you want – a $5000 raise, a report done, etc.- you focus on that one thing and negotiate from that stand point only. Outcome Focus® is where you concentrate on the bigger outcome and leave your mind free to be open to all possibilities. For example, instead of focusing on a $5000 raise you focus on increasing your value by $5000. This can be through a car allowance, a raise, education, signing bonus, a bonus plan, etc. You don’t limit it to one thing.

The first step in planning is to run quickly through these seven questions:

  1. What outcome/result do I want?
  2. Why should they want this outcome/result?
  3. How can I tie this to their objectives and goals?
  4. What objections might they raise?
  5. How can I turn these in to benefits?
  6. What are their hot buttons? (close on these)
  7. What makes them feel good about the company and themselves?

If you quickly run through these questions you will be more prepared to see things from the other person’s point of view. You will focus on how they would benefit from the outcome you desire rather than why they should give you the outcome you desire. This switch in thinking moves you to be more “WE” oriented. Most people negotiate totally from a “ME” perspective. They will try to justify why they should get what they are asking for. This does not inspire the person to want to give you any thing! Instead it makes them want to dig in their heels and hold on so they don’t get taken for a ride.

Just for fun I want you to quickly look at how you would negotiate the following scenario. Imagine that you have worked for a progressive training company and have been there for four years. You do all of the bookkeeping/accounting. It currently takes you 4 days to do payroll. Once you’ve done payroll you generate a sales results form for Toni, the owner and her managers. You are putting in 10-20 extra hours a week. You have researched the market and know you’re underpaid by $5000. You want a $5000 raise, an assistant, and a new computer.Toni is a very driven outgoing sales type person. At only 33 years old she has built a $10 million dollar business. She is currently undertaking some aggressive expansion in to other markets and countries. Because this is absorbing a lot of capital she has announced there will be a salary and hiring freeze. How do you approach and negotiate with her? Take a quick moment now to formalize your strategy. What you would say and how you would say it? We will come back to this later.

The best part about doing this little bit of planning, is it moves you from worrying about how you will come out in the negotiation to focusing on how you can connect with the other person. You can quit sweating the negotiation and ask the tough questions.

A couple of hot tips in your planning:

Never use the word “negotiate”. People immediately think of one person winning and one person losing. And their immediate goal is to not lose! Instead use the word “brainstorm.” When people think of brainstorming they immediately thinking of sharing all information in order to come to the best conclusion. You will find that they will candidly share with you obstacles they face.

When they throw up obstacles or say things you disagree with find out what their real concern is by saying, “tell me this…” or “share with me how…” or “so your concern is…” or “how does that relate to…”. This will get them to openly talk about the challenges and situations they face. And never try to just gloss over their challenges or situations. Instead state them right up front since that will remove them as obstacles the other person can use against your arguments.

To see how this works, let’s go back to our request for a $5000 raise, an assistant and a new computer from Toni. Most people argue this situation as such; “I would like to talk to about getting a raise.” I have worked here for four years and have been a very dedicated employee. I have checked the market place and I am underpaid in the market place by $5000 and would like to get a raise. I am also putting in 10-20 hours extra a week because our computer system is so outdated…” This list goes on and on. Do you notice a pattern here? Everything begins with “I” and puts a lot of pressure on the other party.

By planning and focusing on the other party this same negotiation would go something like this: “Toni, I would like to have a moment of your time to talk about how I can add value to this company. I have given myself a challenge of how I can increase our revenue. I know we are currently challenged by expanding our markets and we currently have a hiring and salary freeze because of it. I also know we are a very progressive company and our computer system currently doesn’t match our company’s new direction. It takes me over 4 days to do payroll and then I generate a report for you and the managers. I looked at how I can shorten that time for you especially with all the new markets we are going in to. And there is a new computer system I recommend we get. It will allow me to do payroll in just two days. This means that Wednesday morning you can get the results to all the managers. But I said that isn’t good enough. And if we bring in an assistant I believe we can get payroll done in half a day and get the results to you by Monday noon. This means you can conference call with all the managers’ Monday afternoon and they can meet with their sales people on Monday at 5 PM. I figure that if by getting these results to them immediately, we can generate just one more sale for each sales person we will bring in ________in revenue for the company. And based on that I would like a $5000 raise. How would we go about putting these in place?”

Do you hear the difference between the two scenarios? In the second one, using Outcome Focus® Thinking everything came from how it could benefit the company. The challenges, such as the expansion and the hiring and salary freeze, were mentioned right up front. This moves the person right away from holding on to those as reasons to deny you to moving to understand where you are going. And since you have already thought of every thing from their perspective it is much easier for them to see things from your perspective!

Four Easy Steps:

So when you are negotiating, follow these four easy steps:

  1. Think of it as brainstorming. This will cause both parties to be more open to ideas.
  2. Focus on the outcome desired AND why the other party will benefit from this outcome. If you can’t answer that, you will be weak throughout the negotiation since you won’t have conviction behind what you say. Don’t get hung up on one solution. Keep yourself open for options.
  3. Address challenges and objections you think the other party might have right up front. Remember a person can’t really “hear” you until they feel you understand them. By addressing concerns, issues and objections they have upfront you shatter the “yea, but” argument that happens so much in negotiations.
  4. Choose your words carefully. Avoid any negative words such as” but or however” since these negate everything you said right before. Instead use “and”.

You might be surprised at what the other party will offer up as solutions! And most importantly, remember you are there to gather information and get a result not to win an argument.