Stock business meeting

So many people think they are such good negotiators, and even boast about it. The problem is when I ask the next question. “What have you read or where did you learn your skills from?”

Most people answer they learned them themselves. That is like asking a surgeon where did you go to medical school, and they answer they taught themselves. Yeah, that’s the doctor I want to go to for my next operation.

Any skills must be learned and practiced, period. The following are the five steps necessary to be a proficient negotiator. If they are first learned, then practiced and practiced some more, then you will get better at negotiating.

• Always learn what the other party wants and let the other party know your wants.

In other words, have open communication. The more you offer about yourself, the more you will find out about the other party. The more questions that you ask, the more information you will gather, and the more you both establish trust. Great negotiations happen when both parties are open, honest, can truly understand the other side’s point of view and truly trust each other.

• Get as much information as possible on the other party and their needs and wants.

You must understand the other party and this will only happen when you are armed with knowledge. Knowledge is wisdom and wisdom is power. Power should not be abused or pushed on someone, but should be used to help other people or situations. Go in with your homework or research done before the meeting.

• Always reach for a compromise.

If you get too much, the other party always loses. This is sometimes called a win-win. Bad choice of words, two teams playing each other in sports don’t both win. From now on, call this compromise-compromise. Do not look to beat up the other party. This is not a case of win-lose. Both parties want to win and they should in their own right. In great negotiations, both parties take a little bit less than they had hoped for. They were honest with each other and they will both look forward to negotiating again due to the sincerity and empathy of the people at the negotiating table.

• Try not to narrow your negotiations down to a single issue.

Life is not a single issue. Most negotiations involve people, which are comprised of many variables. If you are stuck on a single issue, many people become stubborn or fixated on just the outcome of the issue at hand. There is very little room for compromise or ways to let both parties walk out with a winning hand.

• Price is not always the most important factor.

Money is not always the most important thing in a negotiation. Maybe you want the low price on the car, but having a loaner is really important when your car is in for service.

Another example could be the hourly rate might be an important negotiation for a wage concession of a union contract, but what about benefits? Could they give a little on the hourly rate for a shift, and maybe add a little more in prescription or dental benefits?

The examples are endless.

Don’t always focus on the price or number in front of you. Explore options where both parties compromise and you all walk out satisfied. Remember, different people or different personalities want different things. Ask questions, and I mean lots of questions, until everything is uncovered and all the facts and information are in front of you. The more you know, the better the outcome!

Now go and practice negotiating with your kids. The most it can cost you is a new car.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at

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