The Basics of How To Prepare for Negotiation
Knowing how to prepare for negotiation, no matter how big or how small, means understanding both yourself and the people you are planning to negotiate with. The importance of preparing cuts across all kinds of negotiations: at your job, when making purchases, or at home.
In fact, not preparing for a negotiation is one of the biggest ways women can sabotage themselves. It’s easy to get blindsided if you are not clear about what you want and what you can leave on the table, as well as what is truly important to the other folks. Let’s call the people sitting across the table your negotiation partners.
When preparing for negotiation, you should be able to identify 2 essential pieces: what you want and what you’re willing to live with. You also need to figure out, possibly by doing some research, the answers to the same questions about your negotiation partner, whether it is a future boss, a current colleague, your spouse, a relative or a neighbor.
When it comes to negotiation, don’t cross your fingers and hope for the best: Hope is not a plan!
3 Easy Questions That Help You Prepare For Negotiation
1. What do you want? What is your target?
Tip: Make your target measurable in terms of dollars, timeline, or some other tangible outcome.
Consider a common negotiation: a pay raise based on your annual review. Your target is a 15% pay raise.
2. What can you live with? It’s rare to get everything you want when you negotiate, so it’s important to figure out what’s your deal-breaker and where you have wiggle room to give up a thing or two.
Tip: Be clear about the least you are willing to accept, because that is the point at which you are going to walk away.
In the salary negotiation, you are willing to accept a 10% pay raise if it is accompanied by both flex time and some telecommuting. A 10% pay raise without the other concessions won’t work for you.
3. What’s your Plan B? In negotiation lingo, this is what we call a BATNA: your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. In other words, what you will do if you can’t get your needs met through this negotiation? When your alternative is strong, you are in a better position to ask for more of what you want.
Tip: Your BATNA must be realistic and already in play.
In salary negotiations, having a solid job offer from another company in your back pocket is a fantastic BATNA.
That’s Part One of preparing yourself for any negotiation. Part Two is taking the time to figure out your negotiation partner’s answers to the same questions. Look at it from their point of view. If possible, try to get this information from them directly, prior to the actual negotiation.
A negotiation can be won or lost in the preparation phase. Thorough preparation is more important than your experience, skills or persuasiveness.
Why Prepare For Negotiation?
With the right kind of preparation, you will
- Say Yes to the right offers
- Say No to the wrong offers
- Maintain confidence and poise throughout the negotiation