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Three Ways To Be Better At Negotiation


My younger son is a very persistent bloke. He is constantly pushing the boundaries on his demands. Sometimes it could be a Pizza for dinner or a movie night or purchasing a new gadget. He has fine-tuned the art of negotiation to a point where he unknowingly employs some strategies that I was formally taught in a negotiation workshop many years back.

Negotiation is the process of active discussion with someone to reach a satisfactory agreement about some issue of mutual interest. Three distinct but effective strategies work well in a negotiation of any sort, and kids tend to adopt all of them well, while as adults, we struggle thanks to our oversized egos.

Think Win-Win In Any Negotiation

Negotiation is never a zero-sum game where one person wins at the expense of the other. You cannot negotiate your way to an outcome when the other person is unhappy with the outcome or vice versa. The goal of any negotiation should be to achieve a fair outcome for either party. A successful negotiation is one where the two parties agree on a middle ground. 

My son understands this very well. He always thinks win-win. How do I convince my dad to support my request so that it makes sense for him too? “Anyhow you will not buy me a new phone for the next three years, so let me have the latest model. I know it is expensive, so I promise I won’t ask you to buy me anything else for at least six months.” He says.

Thinking win-win is an attitude. When you consciously inculcate an attitude of win-win, you will find that most negotiations move smoothly.

Best Alternative To Not Agreeing(BATNA)

If the negotiation falls apart and the other person does not agree to the terms proposed by you, what is the course of action you will take? Negotiation experts refer to this concept as BATNA.

My son wants me to buy him a gadget, and after a protracted debate and negotiation, I veto his proposal. What does he do? He comes up with a completely different proposition. “No fuss. If you don’t buy that gadget, it means you are saving money that you would otherwise have spent. Can you at least get me a Pizza for the night?” He is clear in his head about his alternative if the negotiation falls off.

The same principle applies in our adult world too. Imagine you want to ask your boss for a raise. Be clear in your head about the BATNA. If your boss does not agree to your request- what is your alternative? Will you leave the job, or will you keep negotiating, hoping he will change his mind, or will you accept and operate as if nothing happened?

Before you enter the negotiation arena, you need to be clear about what you will do if the deal falls apart. It would help if you were clear about your BATNA.

Frame Your Proposal As A Value-Ask

Negotiation of any sort involves a give and take where you are demanding something in return for some value you are giving. When you frame your negotiation as a value-ask, it resonates well with the other person. This is because Value-Ask represents the value you bring to the table to justify that you are asking. 

My son frames a lot of his negotiations as a Value-Ask. ” Mom, please let me buy this stuff. I will cook dinner every weekend, or I will wash the car to pay for the stuff.”

In the workplace, whether it is about negotiating for a promotion or a sales order, you need to be clear and precise about what you are asking. And, on the flip side, you also need to be clear and accurate about the value you are bringing to the table that makes you deserve whatever it is you are asking.

The next time you find yourself in any negotiation scenario, think of this simple three-step framework. First-Think Win-Win. Second- Be clear about your BATNA, and Third- Frame your proposal as a Value-Ask.

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