Four steps to better negotiation for your business.

Negotiation is a trigger word for just about anyone, and as my own research has shown for my book, Business Brilliant, many people are just not that skilled at it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t become skilled at negotiating. Metal Mafia owner and Birthing of Giants Board of Experts member, Vanessa Nornberg, recently wrote a column outlining four easy steps that you can take to become a power negotiator.

Negotiation = Headache (But It Doesn’t Have To)

It’s no surprise that most feel anxiety going into a negotiation, especially in business. Many factors are at stake, not least of which are the growth and stability of your company. As Vanessa points out:

“In play are not only the terms being agreed upon, and the bounty to be had, but also the balance of power between the two parties both in the moment and for the foreseeable future.”

The key to less stressful, more successful negotiation is to be prepared. Here are Vanessa’s four steps to getting all that you want out of a deal.

1 – Know What You Need And Why

Never show up to the negotiating table without first making a list of your non-negotiable needs, and what you can live without – in other words, what you can negotiate away if needed. Knowing specifically what you need and why will help to keep the conversation positive, and allow you to focus better on what your business needs out of the deal. Vanessa explains:

“Showing up with a clear, well-structured ask or need and the reasons to justify it makes it easier for your partner in the negotiation to understand what you want, to ask questions about how that might be accomplished, and ultimately to determine how they can meet your ask.”

2 – Know What You Stand To Lose

When tensions rise around the bargaining table, you can almost always thank fear for it. No one wants to feel like they came out on the short end of the deal, and the fear of that can sometimes cause us to lose the ability to think creatively. Vanessa recommends understanding clearly what it is that you stand to lose so that, rather than react with anger or anxiety when negotiations get tough, you can find paths forward that keep communication open.

“By taking the time to think about the worst case outcome in advance, we can choose to assert our needs in a positive way, rather than responding adversarially.”

3 – Listen!

The person or company that you’re negotiating with has needs and fears just like you. Listen for them. Where your and their needs intersect forms the foundation of a positive outcome.

“If, instead, we listen for and seek out points of alignment, we can find consensus quickly and painlessly.”

While it’s best for both parties to feel satisfied with your agreement, the notion of a “win-win” deal could lead you straight to an unsatisfactory arrangement. Click here to learn how multi-millionaires approach negotiations, and how taking a “make everyone happy” approach is a trap that skilled negotiators steer far clear of.

4 – Identify Your Walk Away Moments

Successful business owners generally have a much easier time saying no to a deal than folks who aren’t entrepreneurial-minded; however, it’s still a good idea to have a clear understanding of the circumstances that will be no-go’s for you. Knowing your walk away moments, as Vanessa describes them, help to keep negotiations from ending on a negative note, even if you or the other party chooses not to collaborate at that time.

“By taking the time to define walk away moments in advance, I am able to remain calm and leave the door open for future collaboration.”

The path to getting what you want/need out of a business deal is not so much to be a tough negotiator, but to be a wise one. Know what you need. Understand what the person you’re negotiating with needs, and you’ll be in the best position to engineer a deal that both parties are satisfied with. As Vanessa points out:

“Coming out a winner in any deal doesn’t mean trouncing the opponent. It means getting what the best outcome [is] for everyone involved.”

You can read Vanessa’s article in its original form at Inc. Magazine’s website.