When you think of negotiation skills, you probably think of money. It’s true that learning how to negotiate salary will help you earn more at every stage of your career. But the benefits of knowing how to negotiate with your colleagues and clients go far beyond an occasional raise.
Improving your negotiation skills could make a big difference for you professionally. Whether you consider yourself an expert or a novice, there are a few quick and simple ways to improve your skills.
1. Go for it.
Understanding the value of negotiations should help you engage in the process more often. People who ask for raises earn more, although other factors, like gender and level of education, impact how comfortable workers feel negotiating. No matter how you cut it though, negotiating can help your career in all kinds of ways. So, don’t try to avoid it.
2. Be prepared.
The power of thorough preparation should not be underestimated. Do any necessary research in advance so that you can be sure you’re considering all potential sources of value when it comes time to negotiate. Also, practice with a colleague or a trusted family member or friend. Being well-prepared will help ensure that you cover all the bases, and it should boost your confidence, too.
3. Always demonstrate integrity.
If you’re in the business of negotiation, you’re in the business of building and maintaining trust. So, always act with integrity during every professional interaction. This applies to before, after, and during a negotiation. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you tell someone you’re going to do something, follow through.
4. Make a lot of mistakes.
Just like anything else, you’ll get better and better at negotiation as you gain experience. Along the way, you’ll make a lot of mistakes. These errors will help you learn what works best in your industry and with your clients. You’ll find your own negotiation style through trial and error.
To be a better negotiator, make lots of mistakes. You’ll find your style through trial and error.
A lot of people talk faster when they’re nervous. Resist the urge when you’re negotiating. You don’t want to step on the other guy’s toes when they’re just pondering a point. So, allow for pauses. Wait patiently for a response when you ask a question. Don’t rush your negotiating partner.
6. Know the Value of What You Have to Offer.
In a salary negotiation, it’s important to know much your skills are worth on the job market. Don’t go by what you’ve earned in the past — or what your friends in your industry claim to be making right now. PayScale’s Salary Survey generates a free report based on thousands of responses from your peers. Take the survey now and get an accurate picture of what’s fair.
It’s natural to focus on what you’re going to say when you negotiate. But, don’t forget to listen too, when the time comes. Listening is a really important — and often neglected — aspect of communication. You need to really hear the person you’re meeting with during any negotiation. So, get out of your head and tune in.
8. Keep your emotions in check.
Emotions play a role in negotiation, but you shouldn’t let them cloud your judgment. It’s essential that you keep a clear head. Don’t take it personally if you have a difficult time coming to an agreement.
9. Be willing to walk away.
Some of the best deals you’ll ever make are the bad deals you’ll walk away from. It’s difficult to close the negotiation window without coming to an agreement, especially after putting so much time and effort into preparing. But, sometimes, it’s what needs to happen. You have to be willing to walk away from a bad deal in order to be a good negotiator.
10. Get it in writing.
If you do come to an agreement, be sure it’s documented and agreed upon by all parties. Also, take notes throughout the process, and save messages and email chains along the way. You want to avoid any and all possibility of confusion or misunderstanding.
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