Career Calling

July 24, 2013

The Starting Point for Negotiation

Last Sunday’s USA Weekend featured an article on negotiation by Jeff Wurorio that was entitled “Let’s Make a Deal.”  Wuorio makes a simple point: Anything can be negotiated.  He gives examples of a man asking for a raise, a woman trying to get her teenagers to work around the house, a couple deciding what to do on the weekend, a woman trying to get a hotel to waive fees, and a family deciding where to spend its vacation.  All of these situations involve decisions about which people can disagree – and compromise.

The obvious question behind any negotiation is: How do I get what I want?  Wuorio makes a good point that applies in all of these situations: “Keep the conversation positive and focused, and great things can happen.”  I agree about tone.  It does no good to be confrontational or bullying.  Know what you want, but it’s equally important to know what the other party wants and what you have to give.

Rather than asking what you want, let your first step in negotiation be to ask: What am I willing to give up?  What does the other party want?  Once you answer those questions, you will know what leverage you have to negotiate.  The more the other party wants what you have, the more power you have to negotiate.  Conversely, the less they want what you have, the less they will be willing to deal.  If you don’t have something they want, you are not negotiating.  You are begging.

Take the time to ask the right questions, and your ability to negotiate will be much stronger.

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