Sharpen Your Negotiating Skills

When you think about it, life is a series of negotiations. The American Heritage Dictionary defines negotiate as conferring with another or others in order to come to terms or reach an agreement. You negotiate with others far more often than you may realize–negotiations that include interactions with family and friends, getting the best deal on a consumer purchase, and a wide variety of business activities.

Though effective negotiating does come more easily to some than others, it’s a skill that anyone can learn and everyone should. Though the consumer culture in the United States doesn’t leave much room for negotiation–you’re not, for example, likely to be able to dicker over price in a major department store–there are still plenty of opportunities for negotiating. The clerk at Bloomingdale’s might not have the authority to give you a discount, but the owner of a small store certainly could. And if you’re in business, you’ll find yourself negotiating on a wide range of issues on a daily basis, from prices and terms with vendors to salary and benefit packages with employees.

Fundamentals of negotiating

There are three fundamental components of negotiating: listening, obtaining information, and overcoming objections, and they occur simultaneously. To be a good negotiator, you don’t need to be pushy or overbearing, you don’t need to be the loudest or most forceful speaker, and most importantly, you don’t need to be offensive. Successful negotiations come from understanding these three components and using them in a way that results in a win-win transaction.

Good listeners place as much or more emphasis on what others are saying than on what they themselves are saying or planning to say. You can develop your own listening skills by changing your attitude from one that is self-centered to one that focuses on the other person. When you are truly focused on what the person you are negotiating with has to say, the information gathering process is enhanced. And that brings us to the second component of negotiating: obtaining information.

In order to propose an acceptable agreement, you need to understand what both parties need. You already know, of course, what will work for you; asking good questions and then listening carefully to the answers is a very direct and quite effective way to find out what will work for the other person.

Finally, as you negotiate, you will have to overcome objections. Many people fear objections, but a good negotiator welcomes them. Why? Because what is often perceived as an obstacle is really just a request for more information. When people seek more information, it usually means they are looking for reasons or ways to make the deal work.

Objections typically come in the form of questions but may be statements. If possible, find out what’s behind the objection before you respond to it. You may discover that it’s not really an objection at all.

Good negotiators are not adversarial or challenging. They listen, gather data, and address concerns, then offer a proposal that will work for all parties. Develop and refine your negotiating skills and you’ll find that every aspect of your life will become much smoother and more rewarding.

How a Presentation Binder Can Help Land Your Dream Job

It may be hard to imagine how something as simple as a presentation binder can make the difference between landing the job of your dreams and getting a “thanks, but no thanks” letter from a potential employer. However, in this competitive job market, you may be surprised at what a difference little details like this can make during the interview process.

Imagine the following scenario: You get invited to interview for the perfect job for you – the right company, the right location and the right level of compensation. The problem is that there are several other qualified candidates vying for the same position. Without question, you will need to distinguish yourself from your competition and the creative use of a presentation binder is a great way to accomplish this.

Here are a Couple of Unique Ways to Use a Presentation Binder During a Job Interview

Customized Brag Books. Often, you will need to demonstrate your achievements in prior positions during the interview process. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep records of any sales awards, performance reports or any other job-related accomplishments. Further, you will want to store, organize and present these materials in a clear, easy-to-read format. A sleek, high-quality presentation binder is a very professional way to share this information with the hiring manager. Not only will this show that you are a top performer in your chosen field, but it also shows that you are organized, prepared and respectful of their time. Further, the presentation binder will protect these valuable (and often irreplaceable) documents from getting lost or damaged.

Interview Projects. For many job openings, the interview process spans over a series of face-to-face meetings. In some cases, the interviewer will ask the job candidate to gather additional information related to the job or company in question. They do this to ascertain whether the candidate is serious about pursuing the position and to see the quality of work he or she will submit. Some candidates will remove themselves from the interview process by not completing the task at all, while others will take advantage of this opportunity to shine. If a hiring manager asks you to complete a task, think of ways to go above and beyond his request to really create an outstanding first impression. Organizing and presenting your findings in a spiral-bound presentation binder will show that you took the time to do a complete and thorough job.

This, in turn, is a great indicator of what kind of employee you will be should you accept the position.
In this tough economic climate, there are a lot of qualified people looking for work. Therefore, you’ll need to come up with creative ways to show potential employers that you are the ideal job candidate for the position you want. The effective use of a quality presentation binder is a great way to stand out from the crowd and show that you are professional, organized and ready to get down to business.

When You Negotiate – What Value Do You Place on Hope?

In past negotiation lessons, I’ve highlighted strategies and tactics that you can use when negotiating. I’ve discussed the value of being able to read and interpret body language (nonverbal signals). I’ve elaborated on the virtues of being mindfully astute when it comes to deciphering nuances that occur when negotiating. The one thing I haven’t touched on in any great length, in any lessons, is the value ‘hope’ plays when negotiating.

I don’t wish to sound whimsical nor capricious, but there’s something to be said about faith, belief, and ‘hope’, when you negotiate. Of course, you still have to prepare for any negotiation by doing your due diligence when it comes to gathering background information on the other negotiator, creating a plan for the negotiation (your road map), and determining what you’ll do if the negotiation doesn’t go the way you want. Nevertheless, you can add an additional dimension to the negotiation by having faith in your abilities and giving consideration to the role ‘hope’ will play.

Let me state, I’m not a huge fan of the law of attraction, but there are ‘things’ that occur in the universe that none of us are truly aware. That being the case, might ‘hope’ really be a viable resource that you can use to enhance a negotiation? There will be setbacks and heartbreaks when you negotiate. Things won’t always go the way you planned, but if you can keep yourself from feeling beaten, downtrodden, and discouraged, you’ll keep ‘hope’ alive.

Have you ever thought that something you wanted very badly would never come to pass? Then, when it didn’t, your first thought was, I knew it wouldn’t happen. Think for a moment. In the instant you thought about a negative experience, it occurred. Maybe part of its occurrence came to fruition,partly due to the thought process you manifested. I’m not suggesting you can will something into existence nor will it away, but if you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right! The direction in which you think, will be the direction in which you’ll move.

When you negotiate, instead of being pessimistic, try to be optimistic. Allow ‘hope’ to replace doubt. Allow ‘hope’ to replace fear. Let not your imagination be your downfall, due to your lack of belief, faith, or conviction that you have about your negotiation position and the outcome you seek.

The next time you’re in a tough negotiation situation and you’re not sure if you’ll be able to acquire the outcome for which you search, close your eyes, while at the negotiation table, and quietly start thinking or chanting out loud, ‘I have ‘hope!’ By doing so, you will enhance the chance that the negotiation will turn out to be more positive for all involved. This may not work, but if your chant is heard by the other negotiator, believe me, it will get his attention. Upon seeing and hearing you, he may give consideration to helping you achieve what you need and want from the negotiation.

Even if using ‘hope’ in your negotiation doesn’t bear fruit, it won’t leave you bare. You will have discovered another tool that will cause pause in a negotiation. During that pause, the negotiation can be reshaped, revamped, and redirected. Done right, with the proper timing, you’ll throw the other negotiator off his game. At that time you’ll have a momentary advantage. Use ‘hope’ wisely and you just might shift the power of the negotiation to your advantage; after all, who knows? With ‘hope’ the unimaginable may become reality … and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Lessons are …

· When you’re handed a plate that’s broken into a million pieces and all you have is a single rubber band to put it back together, what else can you do except ‘hope’. When negotiating, don’t discount the value of ‘hope’.

· While negotiating, pay close attention to the dynamics that are occurring. If the other negotiator is faith based, or one that can be easily mollified, you can use flowery language such as, ‘I ‘hope’ we can achieve the outcome we’re seeking.’ This type of negotiator will be more impressed by such language and easier to assuage.

· It’s been said that “Chance favors the prepared mind.” When your negotiation plans fail to bring forth the outcome you seek, or it’s not going in the direction in which you’d like, use ‘hope’ and always try to keep ‘hope’ alive.