• Three Minutes

Negotiation: An Art for the Smart

How many life-changing, growth-catalyzing deals didn’t get done this year because the two sides weren’t able to see eye-to-eye on the value they could create together? How many opportunities did you miss to make the real magic happen -- for reasons that perhaps had nothing to do with the deal itself? We see it all the time -- a great deal left undone because one side didn’t have the negotiation skills to convince the other of the value they could have created together.

So whether you’re making the case for a better salary or trying to close a million-dollar real estate deal, here are some tips to help you get what you want.


1. Focus on the first 5 minutes.

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Sciences, the first 5 minutes of negotiation can predict the negotiated outcome.

In these minutes, the study says you need to focus on "conversational engagement, prosodic emphasis—which basically means you should copy the emotional state of the speaker—and vocal mirroring" to help the negotiations end well on your side.


2. The Take-it-or-leave-it negotiation strategy.

Offers should rarely be non-negotiable. To defuse this hard-bargaining tactic, try ignoring it and focus on the content of the offer instead, then make a counter-offer

that meets both parties’ needs.


3. Connect on a personal level.

I can’t stress it enough -- the human connection is paramount in negotiation, and your attitude and energy going in will set the tone and affect the outcome. In other words, if you go in anticipating a war, that’s exactly what you’ll experience. On the flip side, if you go in expecting that you’re going to make a deal that satisfies the interests of both parties, you’re much more likely to have that outcome.


4. Disclose as much information as possible.

Information creates trust. When you keep your cards too close to your chest, people become wary. Open up and share as much information as you can with people to give them the full scope of your thinking. This will only make your desired outcome seem less foreign.


5. Drink coffee.

The more caffeine you consume, the less likely you'll budge in an argument, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. The study says that "attitudes formed after caffeine consumption resisted counter-persuasion and led to indirect attitude change." The means that you won't budge much during your negotiation and this will probably lead to "greater agreement" during the interaction.


6. Start higher than what you'd feel satisfied with.

In an article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, researchers say you should always start high in negotiations. These starting prices will eventually "form an anchor," which will come to affect every other number that follows it.

This means that you need to start high because it will lead the individuals involved to "selectively focus on information consistent with, and make valuations similar to, the starting value. Thus, starting high will often lead to ending high in negotiations."


7. Be incremental.

Many people also can’t deal with the pain of initial rejection. They go in thinking that they have to hit a home run right away and wrap the deal up in a day. When they hear their first no, they give up.

So often, progress is incremental, and the deal is a six-week, or perhaps six-month process. Don’t swing for the fence right off the bat. Be satisfied with incremental progress, and keep pushing talks forward.


8. Don’t be afraid to think big!

Finally, ask yourself, are you thinking big enough? Just getting a deal done isn’t always enough. What else could have been done? Could something have been tied to the back-end? Again, this comes down to the confidence that comes with truly knowing the other party. If you know that you’ve got an idea or a product that will add value to their business, be confident in asking for what you think it’s worth. You’ll never get things that you don’t ask for. Don’t just focus on the cake, go for the bakery!


Making the first move is just one way to get the upper hand. No matter how much you may hate to negotiate yourself into a deal—or even out of one—negotiating is a very legitimate business skill to acquire. It's even more crucial if you're a smaller business trying to get off the ground. You will have to make your arguments against much bigger, more powerful entities so it's essential that you know the science behind negotiation skills and how they affect the other party's psyche.


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