How To: Negotiate

Negotiating is seen as a terrifying confrontation: two people sitting across the table from each other, each trying to get their way and “win” the negotiation. Some of us seek to negotiate, trying to maximise our benefit; while others avoid it, not wanting to rock the boat on a potential offer letter.

In fact, a successful negotiation is one where you maximize value for all parties involved. The reality is that we negotiate all the time: for potential jobs, with our teammates and even in our personal relationships. Learn how to negotiate effectively with SWIB U’s five helpful tips:

1.  Know what you want and know what they want

It’s vital to know what your goals are in this negotiation: what does a successful outcome look like to you? Also, it’s just as important to know what the other party wants, and what they care about. When you think about the other party, you can use the negotiation as an opportunity to meet both of your needs. That’s the secret of a good negotiation.

2.  Negotiate on your own turf

Try to negotiate where you’re comfortable, when possible. If you’re anxious, unsure of your surroundings or annoyed by glitchy ceiling lights-- put yourself at ease. You will be a better negotiator when you’re focused on the task, not on your environment.

3. Pleasant ≠ pushover

Being pleasant does not mean that you’re a pushover. We’re accustomed to seeing powerful negotiators in media being rude, callous and ignoring social courtesy to assert their dominance. That doesn’t work in the long term. If you’re negotiating with your hiring manager and are rude, that sets a bad precedent for your career in the company. Being polite, well-mannered and firm is a better way to negotiate: it improves the relationship between the negotiators, and sets the tone for the interaction.

4. Never offer first

The common adage in negotiation tactics...never make the first offer. It sets the benchmark for the negotiation, and you never learn what your fellow negotiator came to the table with. When possible, let them offer first. Then, you can update your understanding of the situation, and work with them to reach common ground. Sometimes, it’s not possible, like when a recruiter is unwilling to go first, so, sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. However, when you can, let them make the first offer.

5. If you get everything, you’ve lost the long game

If you walk away from a negotiation with everything you wanted, and your negotiating partner leaves feeling cheated or defeated-- you’ve lost the long game. Sure, you might have “won” that negotiation, but in the future, that person will not want to work with you. A good negotiation is one where all parties are able to maximize their value, while leaving something on the table. This comes with the understanding that most negotiations are not a one-time deal, they are a stepping stone in a longer working relationship.

Swib University