Negotiation 101: 7 Ways to Get What You Need & Want

Author By Jim Lara

You negotiate every day—at work, home and in your community. You might negotiate with your boss over headcount and budgets. You might negotiate with a colleague over project tasks. And you might negotiate with your local car dealer on a new vehicle.

Not all negotiations involve high stakes.

But when they do, you’ve got to use your intelligence quotient (IQ) and your emotional quotient (EQ) to produce the results you need and want.

Negotiation in Business Aviation

As a business aviation leader, some of your biggest financial negotiations measure in the millions of dollars. Take, for example,buying or leasing a new aircraft.

I don’t know about you, but in my world, these are high stakes. We are talking eight figure deals that usually take a long time to complete.

That’s why you need critical thinking and communications skills.

Personally, I’ve been practicing my high-stakes negotiation skills for the better part of five decades.

And one of the tools I’ve used to help fine-tune them is a book I picked up about 15 years ago.

It’s called “Crucial Conversations – Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.”

In it, the authors teach you how to get results—by interacting with and through people. Especially when, as they say, “opinions vary, stakes are high and emotions run strong.”

So if, like me, you could always use some helpful tips in the art of negotiation, take heed and keep reading!


Negotiation 101 – 7 Tips

Why does negotiating involve so much strategy, preparation and practice?

Because when we negotiate, we like to focus on ourselves—and on our agenda. But that’s only part of what’s truly important!

When we’re not properly trained, we lack the ability to “deal” when things get tough and personal.

So the next time you need to think through a negotiation at home or work, it’s essential to consider that interpersonal dynamics are at play.

Here are 7 techniques to help you do just that.

1. Think Strategically

Before you begin any give-and-take conversation,ask yourself, “What do I really need and want?”

Also figure out what you want for others and for the partnership.

In doing so, you will keep your “eyes on the prize.” You will also stay focused on the desired outcome.

Try thinking through these questions:

  • What’s a win?
  • What am I willing to give up?
  • What’s my bottom line?
  • What’s a non-starter?


2. Prepare Emotionally

Don’t let your perceptions dictate your reality. When you “dial up” your emotional intelligence, you negotiate based on fact—not feelings or opinions.

After all, your EQ gives you more self-awareness, self-management and empathy.

It also helps you separate the person from the problem or objective.

What are your mutual interests vs. your opponent’s? Do you know what his or her needs are, and what they might ask of you in return?

Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the end goal.

Have you thought through possible scenarios of what you might say?

In any case, practice makes perfect. Write down your key points and memorize them. Then role-play the potential conversation with someone you trust.

If you think, “I don’t have time to do that,” you’re not ready to negotiate.


3. Prepare Physically

Think about how your body reacts when conversations get heated.

Do you have a tendency to get excited and talk more? Does your face get flushed? Or do your hands become sweaty?

In this case, emotional and mental preparation (e.g., rehearsal) always helps.

Slow down. Take deep breaths. Maintain eye contact. Focus on what the other person is saying. Listen to every word.

Another key to physical preparation is to practice your non-verbal cues.

What’s your body language saying? Are your arms crossed or hands folded? Where are you seated at the table?

Your stature and presence can either convey confidence—or they can backfire on you. When you appear authoritative (but not overbearing), it’s more likely others will heed your request.

When you do speak, do so persuasively, not abrasively. Be strong and assertive with a measured cadence. Phrases such as “I believe” convey weakness. After all, if you didn’t believe it, you wouldn’t say it.


4. Turn Information into Knowledge

In a high-stakes dialogue, focus on bringing information to the table. Always perform your due diligence by gathering and organizing as much knowledge as you can.

Depending on the deal, look at facts based on science, market trends, news articles, etc.

Let’s say, for example, you want to negotiate additional headcount. Try benchmarking what similar companies are doing. Think through the needs of the company and what the executives expect when it comes to service levels.

Walk through all assumptions. What would happen by maintaining the status quo?

If possible, find out what the other party has said in the past, either in an article, email or white paper.

Use his or her words and beliefs to help you make your case. This is an excellent strategy suggested by Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.


5. Consider All Outcomes

Just as the popular Rolling Stones’ song goes, “You can’t always get what you want.”

Think through the various options that could result. Consider several possibilities of satisfying everyone’s interests to meet your goal. There just might be a win-win solution that will suit every one involved.

Then envision what a successful outcome would look like.

As you can imagine, the best outcomes result when you don’t need to make the deal.


6. Determine Criteria

Before it’s time to come to terms, you and the other party should agree on how to measure success.

What criteria are best?

Think of the options to propose and then find the criteria needed to support those options.

For example, if you were purchasing an aircraft,you would look at sales history, current market value, residual value and so forth.


7. Know When to Hold ‘Em, Fold ‘Em

Have you ever heard the phrase, “He who speaks first, loses”? Well, it’s true.

It’s wise to listen and never make the first offer.Silence is golden, especially in this case.

Even though it might be uncomfortable, refrain from filling the voids by talking. Instead, maintain intense eye contact.

Should you get an unacceptable “final proposal,” be willing to fold your proverbial cards. Thank them for their offer and politely tell them you’ll have to go with “Plan B.”

Express your desire to keep in touch, and then withdraw.

Withdrawal can be a powerful tool, as it lets the other party think about what they want.


So there you have it.

These are seven of my tried-and-true techniques to help you get what you need and want. I hope you’ll try practicing at least a few of them in your upcoming “crucial conversations.”

Just remember to tap into both your EQ and IQ quotients. Because, when you do, you’ll appear much more professional.

And you just might come away with more than you bargained for.


Your Turn

What are negotiation 101 tips–ways that you’ve prepared for negotiations at home or in the office? Please share your communication methods in the comments section below.