how to negotiate

by emily naismith

Life would be a whole lot easier if everyone realised how awesome you are and just gave you everything you desired. May I have this wheel of French camembert for the price of a peelable cheese stick, good sir? Sure thing! Look, I want this car, but I only have half the asking price. No worries, here are the keys!

In reality, negotiating can be really hard. The mere mention of the word may make you want to fold yourself up inside a suitcase and sit on an airport baggage carousel, going round and round forever – anything to avoid the anxiety of asking for what you really want. But sometimes you’ve just got to step up, and these tips could make negotiating a little less terrifying.

how to negotiate frankie inside
snap by Lukasz Wierzbowski

DO YOUR HOMEWORK Start by gathering lots of information. If you’re asking to finally be paid what you’re worth, make sure you know what that is, based on industry averages. Prepare a list of your measurable achievements (remembering this is not the time to be humble). If you’re buying a house or car, research sales of similar assets to understand what a fair price would be. Then, write a list of all its discernible flaws (even if they’re not a big deal to you). Be picky – running through this list during negotiations will give you bargaining leverage.

REFRAME YOUR EMOTIONS So you’re a bit of a nervous wreck, which is totally understandable – luckily, there are tricky mind games you can use to settle your brain. As it happens, anxiety and excitement feel kind of similar in our bodies. Try reframing your worry as excitement to convince yourself you’re raring to go – you’ll enter into the negotiation with a totally different perspective.

PREPARE TO COMPROMISE Get creative and think about what else you could ask for that isn’t straight-up dosh. That way, if your financial requests can’t be met, you won’t totally lose out – you might be able to snag some extra holidays, a longer warranty, more time to deliver a project, or a shorter working week. Consider what’s important to you other than that sweet cash.

ACT IT OUT Do you know someone who’s negotiated with the same person or company in the past? Ask them to engage in some strategic role play with you. It’s super-helpful and surprisingly calming to be able to anticipate someone’s negotiation style before you’re face-to-face in the ring.

BEGIN THE BARGAINING Think about what you want the final result of your negotiation to be, then add some wiggle room (and maybe some more, just to be safe). It may feel pointless starting your discussion with a number or goal that’s seemingly way out of reach, but if the other side kicks things off, you may find yourself trapped with nowhere to move… eek.

BE DISARMING It’s easy to forget to be warm and likeable when you’ve been listening to Beyoncé power anthems on repeat, hoping her confidence will rub off on you, but some of the best negotiators in the game – including plenty of top-notch lawyers – insist their number one tip for a successful negotiation is getting your ‘opponent’ on side.

LEARN TO SHUT IT Word vomit is real when you’re feeling on edge. On the other hand, silence will encourage the other person to talk more, giving you a chance to work out what they’re thinking. What are they scared of? What, ultimately, do they want? This insight can help you position your offer in a way that may benefit them, as well.

KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY There’s nothing wrong with asking for time to mull over an offer, and equally, if it seems unlikely you’ll reach a conclusion you’re happy with, it’s OK to walk away. If nothing else, you’ve got some great negotiating experience under your belt, and will know how to approach things differently next time.

This article first appeared in our big ol' bumper issue 90. Nab a copy here, or subscribe from $10.50.

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