Negotiation Baby Steps

Wouldn't it be great if each negotiation we had to face came with its own set of instructions? Unfortunately, almost every negotiation is different and some are far more complex than others, but there are some basic skills everyone can learn.

Think about how you prepare for a negotiation. Most likely, you take time to do some research on the topic and, if this is a person you've dealt with before, you may review any history you have with them. This is a great start for preparing yourself for a negotiation. Obviously, when you call the cable company to negotiate a lower rate because you are "thinking" of switching to satellite, your preparation may differ from an important salary negotiation. However, the following 3 ideas will provide you with some guidance in most situations.

1. Know Thyself: Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Are you a good listener or do you prefer to control the pace of a conversation? What are some of your strengths when dealing with others? Weaknesses? Are you likely to give up on the first "No" or would you be willing to ask more questions in order to understand why the other sides is saying No?

2. Know Your BATNA: Your BATNA is your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. Do you know at what point you are better off not doing a deal at all rather than doing a bad deal? That is, what is your break-even point? If you reach a point where your BATNA is more attractive than the deal being offered, you can walk away knowing you've made the right decision as long as you know your BATNA going into the negotiation.

3. Know What You Want: Know your destination. If you don't know where you are going you have at least two problems. First, you won't know how to get there. Second, how will you know when you've arrived?

By keeping these three points in mind while preparing for your next negotiation, you'll have a much clearer picture of how the negotiation will unfold, your own purpose and vision along with a break-even point and, most importantly, a destination.