There are certain rules or principles that will help you settle your disputes, whether you are negotiating a raise with your boss, negotiating a vacation schedule with your ex-spouse, or negotiating with a seller or buyer on an online auction.
1: Concentrate on the goal.
Don’t let your emotions get in the way. Before attempting to negotiate anything, it is critical to leave your emotions at the door. Anger, for example, can cause a person to lose control. We’ve all seen someone who turns red in the face, starts shaking his finger, and generally appears to be having a heart attack. That person is sometimes so enraged that he is incoherent. If you want to succeed, you must get past that stage. If you are the one who is angry and upset, you must concentrate on what you want to achieve and tell yourself that nothing will get in the way of that goal. It makes no difference whether you like the other side or not. Some parties are obnoxious, rude, and insulting. Try to ignore these insults so you can concentrate on resolving the dispute. Don’t give the other side the satisfaction of knowing they’ve gotten to you if they’re baiting you. It makes no difference whether you like or respect the other party if you focus on the negotiation’s goals.
2: Look ahead, not back.
There is a reason why the past is called the past. It can be counter-productive if one party becomes overly involved in what has happened in the past. One party in a divorce case may be so focused on documenting everything the husband has done wrong that the wife fails to consider the goals of the negotiation beyond blaming the husband. You must find a way to return to the present and deal with current custody or visitation issues. In order to resolve the dispute, ask the other party what they want now.
3: You don’t have to be right in order to settle.
What are the three words we most want to hear, even more than “I love you”? We adore hearing the words, “You are correct.” For some, this is even more difficult to say than “I love you.” And it’s even better if you say, “You are completely correct.” When someone says, “It’s the principle that counts” or “It’s not the money that matters, it’s the principle!” I’m aware that the negotiation is in jeopardy. That is because the party has decided that being a martyr is more important than settling the case. When someone is obsessed with a situation’s principle, he or she is still emotionally invested in his or her feelings. The dispute is unlikely to be resolved unless you can get past your emotions. Feeling right can be a powerful emotion, but it has no place in a negotiation. If the other side is only concerned with being right, the situation is unlikely to be resolved.
4: Understand what you want and what the opposing party wants.
Although it may appear that knowing what you want is obvious, many parties do not. They are so enraged that they haven’t even considered how to resolve the problem. How can they get what they want if they don’t know what they want? They may wish to discuss and rehash the circumstances that led to this negotiation. You should have a detailed plan of what you want, depending on the complexity of the situation. In addition to knowing what you want, you must also know what you are willing to give up in order to obtain it. In general, if you are willing to pay the price, you can get what you want. Never enter into a negotiation unless you know exactly what you want.
5: Be prepared and conduct thorough research.
Once you’ve decided what you want, you’ll need to do some research and planning. This could be as simple as writing down your arguments on a piece of paper or as complex as conducting research to cost out a wage increase request. In either case, you must be prepared. Otherwise, you risk making a concession or agreeing to something you will later regret. You must understand the reasoning behind your requests and have a good estimate of the costs, including future costs. Nothing is more humiliating than giving a presentation and having someone question the accuracy of your numbers, causing the entire presentation to fall apart because the data is confusing, or worse, incorrect. Consider delaying the start of the negotiation if you are not completely prepared. You will be sorry if you go in with little or no information and try to wing it. You can never be too prepared. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use everything you prepared. It is critical to have as much information and research as possible on hand in case it is required.