Success is all about getting what we need, at the right time, and using it the right way. More often than not, what we need is in the hands of another individual. Very few successful people have achieved their goals completely alone. In fact, I can’t name one. Everything in life revolves around communication with other people. Unfortunately, not all of us have an innate gift for this kind of negotiations, and that can make getting ahead in life very difficult.
When it comes to getting what we need, the easiest way is go the consumer route and just buy it. It doesn’t matter if it is a gallon of milk, an exotic holiday or a new car, the premise is the same. The beauty of this particular method of acquiring things, is that it requires little to no real skills in the area of negotiation. Some people have what we Irish call “the gift of the gab” and will barter down the price of nearly anything. This requires an extortionate amount of self-confidence, as well as a blatant lack of shame. Neither of which I have at my disposal. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this one, either. In general, my hard and fast rule for these situations is that if I want the product, I’ll pay the asking price. If I don’t want to pay that, I obviously don’t want the product/service enough. Done and dusted.
When it comes to having to actually negotiate or cut a deal with anyone else, that other person introduces variables that are definitely not in the “shopping” scene. A store clerk is never going to tell you that they have changed their mind about the marked price at the till before you leave. Another person can change their mind at any time.
But how do we become successful negotiators? How do we get what we want or need from another person if they are going to change their minds all the time? Hannah, this is IMPOSSSIBLE.
No, it’s not. Humans have been negotiating since the dawn of time. So why should we stop now? I have a characteristically positive attitude when I go on to talk to people about things, whether or not I am asking them for something is irrelevant. A positive mental attitude is by far the most important people skill when it comes to “crunch time”. Never will you find someone that walked into a meeting, expecting to be shot down, who ended up succeeding. Self-belief is contagious. If I am enthusiastic about what I am bringing to the table, it’s very difficult for the other person not to be.
Another thing I have noticed, is that you have to be willing to give as well as receive. Very rarely will somebody on this planet do something for nothing. I often hear of people who go into meetings with no intention of giving an inch.
Negotiation is a two-way street. For example, if you are asking for some time off work, it is much easier to be flexible and either provide a multitude of different dates far in advance of time or, if you need a specific day off, maybe be ready to request a different number of days or offer to do double shifts in order to make up the time. Flexibility and the art of negotiation go hand in hand.
The other person needs to find you an attractive prospect to invest in, whether it is their time, money or simply support your cause. While I am a firm believer in flexibility, I am also a massive believer in sticking to your guns. Never leave a negotiation feeling shafted. Especially, if you were the instigator. Set your limits and stick to them.
This is where women in business and sometimes everyday life get shafted, I believe. As a woman, if I am a go-getter, or if I walk in and lay it all out on the table, I can be seen as the office bitch. If I try to get along and please everybody, then I am considered a pushover and will never get the recognition I need. If I smile sweetly and use compliments, I am accused of sleeping my way to the top. It is only lately (and I mean, in the last three months) that I have perfected the art of negotiation.
And that is exactly what it is, an art form. There is no secret that will magically make you a better negotiator. What I have found is that being a friendly, hard-working member of a team that will occasionally allow others to have their own way too has opened doors for me when I have had to go and make requests off management. In everyday life, I make sure I am fully prepared for a situation if it may involve negotiating. Though I try and avoid these moments like the plague.
You see, even though I don’t mind doing it in work, I really don’t enjoy these situations day to day. I much prefer the first method of acquiring goods and services. Money makes it all so much easier. I can set a target and work myself to the bone in order to achieve it. In the end, I get a reward. I don’t have to rely on anyone else to hold up their end of the bargain.
I think if the art of negotiation wasn’t a tough one to master, we would all be still dealing in cattle and chickens. Thankfully some soul came up with the idea of legal tender, and it has eliminated all of these tensions. For the workplace, however, you are all more than welcome to try out the things I mentioned above to see if they work for you.
But I think a good note to end this on is to remember that everyone is more likely to help a person if they smile. So beam away, even if you have crippling anxiety about asking for that pay rise, or you know your landlord is going to be a tough sell when it comes to renegotiating rent. The worst anyone can say is no!
[Image Credit: Eric Haidara / Stocksnap]
Posted on November 23, 2016 in Success Factory by Hannah Callaghan