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Keys to power negotiating

Secrets for the best leverage in your negotiations

By special guest author Keith J. Cunningham

Most people never get training in the key concepts of negotiation, yet it is one of the most essential skills in business and in life. We are constantly negotiating – to get bigger, better deals in our favor. In How I Do Business, I took the years of studying and having direct experience in negotiation and translated it into some base components, breaking down what it takes to become a great negotiator and the pitfalls to avoid. *Whether you’re a novice to the art form or an accomplished negotiator looking to pick up some tips to augment your skills, you can always learn more techniques to take their business to the next level.

The purpose of a negotiation

Simply, the purpose of a negotiation is to maximize the meeting of your interests. You’re making an agreement with another person and in order for both of you to fully benefit, you use your negotiation skills to strike a deal. You don’t go into a negotiation to get the least amount that you can, do you? No, you want to get the most amount that you can.

But here is the paradox: In order to get the most that you can, you must also meet the other person’s interests. For me to get all that I want, I have to give you what you want. This is where it gets tricky and negotiation strategies come into play. There is a way to get what you want, and give the other person what they want with less struggle. This is power negotiation.

Components of every negotiation

First, it’s important to understand the three components of a negotiation:

  1. Desire: There has to be desire on both parties’ parts to even start negotiating.
  2. Agreement: You have to care about the outcome, but you can’t care too much.
  3. No fixed rules: There will always be some rules, like if you and I are negotiating for me to buy your car, we will probably both have our clothes on and be making the exchange in money. Rules like these are understood. But with regard to the value of the car and how we enter into negotiations? There are no fixed rules.

What happens in power negotiation?

Power negotiation works on some basic rules. First, it’s a game of addition, not subtraction. It’s a game of problem solving, not arguing. Lastly, it’s a game of reformulating and seeing another point of view. So why do so many people find negotiation so challenging? One of the key concepts of negotiation is knowing the difference between position and interest.

The base of a successful negotiation

Think about a frustrating negotiation you’ve had. It’s probably because you were negotiating about your position vs. their position and it got real competitive. Position-based negotiations go like this: I say something, you dig in and defend your position. So I defend my position. Now our egos get involved and we start worrying about who’s right and who’s wrong. We both take up a position and each say what we will or won’t do. Where can you go from there?

Instead of negotiating about your position, you should negotiate from a point of interest. What’s motivating you? That’s what really matters. Take these two examples:

Example 1: Let’s say I have been dating a woman for 3 or 4 years and I’m very much in love with her. So I ask her to marry me. Is that a position or an interest?

Right now, it’s just a position.

But, if then I say, “I want you to marry me to be my life partner, to share my life with, to grow old with.” Or I might say, “I want you to marry me  because I want someone to take care of me, to run the household, to be a mother to my children.” Once I say why I want her to marry me, she knows my interests and now can make a better decision to get the outcome she desires.

Example 2: You’re looking to buy a house, so you call a real estate broker. What would happen if the first thing the broker said was, “Do I have a deal for you! This house just came on the market this morning. It is going to be sold within two days, and is such a great deal. We have to go look at it right away!”

That would scare you to death. No real estate broker would say that to a client. Or at least no successful one, because it takes a blanket approach to a personalized transaction. Instead, a good broker says something like, “Oh, I’m glad you called. Tell me about what you want. Are you just moving to town? Are you familiar with the city? Are you going to work downtown? Are you going to work in the suburbs? How long of a commute is desirable? Do you have children? What price range? How many bedrooms?”

Here the broker takes your position — you want to buy a house — and immediately starts to find out your interests. The more they know about what you want and need, the better equipped they are to meet your expectations. This is why an excellent broker asks for details beyond desired location and your family size to determine what homes to show you. “A large family room” means different things to different people, so the more specific the description the broker gets, the likelier you are to get the home you want.

The next time you go to negotiate, remember it this way: Your positions are your behavior. Your interests are what motivate your behavior. If you’ve had an unsuccessful negotiation, you were probably focused on positions instead of interests. But when you enter into a negotiation and focus on what your interests are and what their interests are, you can design a solution that does not require a lot of struggle. Things will go more smoothly and the chances of everyone getting their interests met go up dramatically, resulting in a successful negotiation.

About the author: American entrepreneur, international speaker and acclaimed author, Keith Cunningham is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on business mastery. With more than 40 years of business and investing experience, Keith has taught critical business skills to thousands of top executives and entrepreneurs around the world.

Keith is the author of Keys to the Vault: Lessons from the Pros on Raising Money and Igniting Your Business. His newest book, The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business, reveals Keith’s core business principles, including why “great operators get tired and how great business owners get rich.”

Image credit © PORTRAIT IMAGES ASIA BY NONWARIT/shutterstock

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