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Manager Mechanics Blog, Written by Eric P. Bloom
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Oct 10, 2016 10 Great Negotiation Tips for Managers

As managers, we are continually negotiating with those we work with. These people include our staff, peers, customers, internal departments providing us with value, internal customers that we support, and many others. Outside the workplace, we are also continually negotiating with our spouses, kids, parents, friends, car dealers, vendors, and others.

This dual usage of negotiation skills, namely work and home, makes learning how to negotiate a double win. You can use these learning skills at work and on the home front.

A typical negotiation class generally contains the following types of topics:
  • Negotiation process
  • Important concepts
  • Negotiation styles
  • Negotiation preparations
  • Negotiating strategies
  • Dealing with difficult tactics

Given that this is a short column, and not a full class on negotiation, I would like to just give you some quick negotiation tips.
  1. Know your bottom line, that is to say exactly how low (or high) you are willing to go.
  2. Be disciplined and do not go below your bottom line during the heat of the negotiation.
  3. Know your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) and your WATNA (Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). This information will help you define the value of the deal you are negotiating as compared to other alternatives.
  4. Know that negotiation should not be about conflict, it should be about compromise and eventual mutual agreement. This outlook will help you be more willing to negotiate if you dislike conflict.
  5. Be prepared. The more preparation you do and the more knowledgeable you are on the topic being negotiated, the better chance you have of a successful outcome.
  6. Know your negotiation style and how well or poorly it does when up against other negotiation styles.
  7. Be willing to walk away from a negotiation if you cannot beat your bottom line. In fact, sometimes walking away makes your opponent more willing to negotiate.
  8. Don't cave into time pressure. Be your own person and decide to take or not take a deal based on your timeframes.
  9. Be a good trader. That is to say, during a negotiation don't just give things away, trade them for things that you want.
  10. Nibbling is the technique of asking the other person for extra small items when the negotiation is about to end. The tactic is designed under the premise that people will give into additional items with the hope of ending the negotiation quickly. If someone does this to you, be willing to say no. Conversely, try this technique yourself, you may get additional concessions.

In some ways I find negotiation to be like sports. On the down side, you can't win them all. When you win, sit back and take mental note of what you did. When you lose, take note of what you did and what you didn't do. On the upside, unlike most sporting events, both sides can win. That's the great thing about negotiation. There doesn't have to be a loser. More often than not, both sides can end up with a compromise that meets their needs. As an additional sports analogy, you may not be able to win them all, but with the proper preparation, practice, and knowledge, you can increase your winning average.

In closing, certainly there is much more to being an effective negotiator than just those items previously listed, but this is a pretty good start.

The primary advice and takeaways from today's column is to know that:
  • The ability to negotiate well has a dual value. It's helpful in the work place when dealing with your boss, employees and others and it can be used on the home front when dealing with family, friends, and others.
  • Like sports, you may not be able to win them all, but with the proper preparation, practice, and knowledge, you can increase your winning average.

This blog is an excerpt from my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. My new columns can be found in GateHouse Media publications throughout the United States.

Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.

Eric Bloom
President and CTO

Manager Mechanics, LLC


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