This is a guest blog by Jeff Perry
To negotiate is a fact of life. We cannot avoid it. Whether we are negotiating compensation for a new job, the price of something we are trying to buy, a large corporate agreement, or even what to eat for dinner, we are constantly negotiating.
Always Look for Negotiation Opportunities
One of the biggest problems with negotiations is many people do not even try! Usually this is because they think that issues are not open for negotiation. The truth is, unless there is some sort of ethics issue involved, it is always okay to ask if things are negotiable. This can have huge effects on your life and career.
Imagine if you negotiate an additional $5,000 in starting salary for your first job and an additional 1% increase in salary each year. The cost of not negotiating can be in the millions of dollars over the course of your career, even though it seems so small upfront.
Just ask and see what happens.
Find the Win-Win
Many of us have the wrong idea about winning a negotiation. We wrongly think that negotiations always result in winners and losers. Sometimes this is true, but it does not have to be.
We can get caught in the trap or perception that we are working with a “fixed pie” — that there are only so many resources to go around, and we must fight over them in negotiations. Often, there are mixed motives involved, where interests do not directly line up across parties.
Win-win negotiations are possible in many cases. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
Seek to Understand
To find those win-win opportunities, you’ll have to spend time deeply understanding the interests and desires of your negotiation partner. This is especially true if there are multiple items that are being negotiated.
Each of you may have different priorities or values associated with each item you are negotiating. This is a good thing. This means that you each have the opportunity to give up something of less value in order to receive something of more value.
Spend a lot of time asking questions that help you understand every interest of your negotiation partner. Being genuinely curious about what they care about will not only help you know what items you should focus on, but also help build trust.
Similarly, it is very important to share your interests or what you want in the negotiation. Being coy or failing to reveal your interests makes it such that the other side must guess your interests, and people do not often guess correctly. This means that you are less likely to get what you want.
Successful negotiation is like a puzzle that needs to be put together. It takes time to make the discoveries, but it can also be fun!
Learn from Each Experience
It is hard to appropriately debrief and get feedback in real-life negotiations. Rarely will people share exactly how satisfied they were with the negotiation outcome. However, like anything else in life, if you are not continually seeking to learn and improve, you will not get any better.
Perform some personal analysis from each negotiation experience. Ask a friend who knows something about the issues at hand for their thoughts and ideas.
If negotiations are foreign or scary to you, learn more about them! Take a short course on negotiations, watch some YouTube videos, or find a coach who can help you through a negotiation situation.
Negotiations are a part of life — if you can focus more on what the other parties are trying to accomplish and help them do that without sacrificing what is most important to you, you can develop those win-win opportunities.
About Jeff Perry
Jeff Perry provides engineering and software pros with professional coaching to help develop soft skills, like leadership and mindset, to unlock hidden potential and remove self-imposed roadblocks for their career and life.
For years, he has had the pleasure of supporting engineers and software pros, from new grads to director level. Having been on the front lines in the technical world, he has been able to map out the necessary skills for becoming a quality leader in the field.
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Getting clarity on your life and career is crucial to success. For specific activities and ideas to create more clarity in your career and life, go grab the FREE Career Clarity Checklist that Jeff has put together. You can get it here.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about how you negotiate to understand others better.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success