21 June 2022 13:43:03 IST

Cracking the negotiation game and reaching a win-win

Understand what motivates your counterpart | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Whether it’s negotiating for a higher salary, bargaining for a lower price or a bigger investment, is there a way to negotiate your way to reach a win-win situation? Ghanian educational entrepreneur Charles Yeboah and Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Margaret Neale tell you how. 

In simple steps, Neale explains how she approaches negotiations: 

  1. Stop viewing the person you’re negotiating with as the “enemy” who is keeping you from getting what you want. Move beyond the simple “negotiation is a battle” mindset. Instead, think of negotiation as a process in collaborative problem-solving. 
  2. Condition your counterpart out of battle mode and table a conversation and discuss the goal of the negotiation. Now, they are more likely to hear you out. 
  3. Narrow down what motivates your counterpart, and their interests, preferences and challenges.
  4. Before putting an offer on the table, analyse if you are better off without this offer as sometimes, walking away from a deal is the best outcome. 
  5. If it is in your favour, remember step 3, and frame your proposal as a solution to the problem that your counterpart has.

Saying ‘no’ better 

“Every bad deal you’ve ever gotten, you’ve agreed to,” says Yeboah. The ability to walk away from a deal is a key form of leverage. Here is how to ensure that saying “no” is always an option according to Yeboah’s framework:

  1. Know your alternatives. They are your safety net and the ones with more alternatives always walk away with more.
  2. Know what you want. What can you let go and what can’t you let go of? Because why else would one enter a negotiation if they do not know what they want?
  3. Know your aspirations. It should include an optimistic assessment of what you could achieve in this negotiation. You’re probably not going to reach it, but by setting an aspiration, on average, you will do better. 

Do not be part of the 80 per cent who settle for the first outcome. The first offer simply sets a standard of what your counterpart has to offer. The upcoming offers are always better. Gatekeep your information. Do not divulge everything you have to offer. Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here

(This is an abridged version of the piece which originally appeared in Stanford Seed)