The art and science behind negotiating is truly fascinating, but negotiating is also very polarizing. People either enjoy it or are very intimidated by it. Some people have to do it for a living, though. But at a point in everyone’s lives, there is a time/opportunity for negotiating, and deciding to negotiate can benefit you (i.e. salary increase, new job, new car, etc).
Remember, you are your own best advocate. To take some fear out of negotiating, it can simply be a matter of being aware of the negotiation skills you can use and recognizing when others use those same negotiation skills on you. I have certainly negotiated both in work and personal settings throughout my life, but I am always trying to give more finesse to my skills. In a recent training, I learned some important points that might just take some of that fear out of your next meeting, even if it doesn’t involve obvious negotiations. In this week’s blog, I will cover some of the general lessons I learned about negotiations that can also apply to general conversations and interactions with others. Next week, I will discuss a specific method of negotiation, as well as some specific tactics that can be used during negotiations.
- Most communication is nonverbal; this is true in everyday life, not just in negotiations. Have you ever heard of the difference between a male and female nodding their head? Our course instructor stated that when women nod their head, they are indicating agreement; when men nod their head, they are indicating that they understand what you are saying, BUT that certainly does not mean they agree. However, when there is communication between males and females, there is usually a misunderstanding for what this nonverbal communication actually means. I have heard from other people the reverse — that a head nod from a man means that he agrees, and that a head nod from a woman means that she understands. Regardless, this drives the point home that nonverbal communication can send many different messages so it’s important to be clear and….
- Always write down the final decision. Maybe there wasn’t a decision made during the meeting, so it is important to take notes of what each side presented and what was discussed. Documenting any verbal communication, and sharing it with all parties, can reveal any misunderstandings and give each person a chance to rebut the record before it becomes final. Recording this information can be done via official report, or even via email. Either way, it should be in writing, and all parties should see it and have a chance to review it before it is finalized.
- Preparation gives confidence. Have you ever been in a meeting, and you were unexpectedly called upon by your boss (or your boss’s boss) to give a recap of a meeting/training you recently attended? How much time did you have to think about it — two seconds, one minute? Did you consider how you could have given yourself more time, and therefore provided more organized and relevant information to your colleagues? If you did think about this, you were considering negotiation! In an ideal world, you would have hours or even days to prepare for a presentation like this, especially if it involves negotiation. However, that is not always the case, so the next time you are called on like this, you might consider responding with, “I would love to; however, I think it might be best covered in a separate presentation. Would you mind if I scheduled that in the next few days or next week?” If they really want a report right then, you could respond with, “Sure, I will send an email summary by the end of the day highlighting the main points,” or “Of course, could you just briefly tell me what specifically you were interested in hearing about?” As they mention what information they would like to know, you can be taking notes about what you remember, and present them in an organized fashion. Talk about preparing in 20 seconds!
- Being aware of the end goal of the negotiation is key to staying on track during the discussions and key to everyone being in agreement on what the end goal is (although they may want different things). We have all been to meetings that continue for hours. These meetings can easily go off track, and at the end, the parties are no closer to achieving the goal than before the meeting. However, these hours can be useful, even if a decision is not reached. During this time, the parties can present their opinions and discuss another meeting once people have had time to think about the conversations. In some cases, just calm down and approach the negotiation with less anger. Regardless of whether the meeting is for negotiations, or is just a regular staff meeting, I think it is incredibly helpful to list the goal of the meeting at the top of the agenda. Doing so ensures that the participants can always go back to the focus of the discussions.
Stay tuned for more exciting negotiation techniques, tactics, and tips next week!
The views expressed in this document reflect the personal opinions of the author and are entirely the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or the United States Government. USAID is not responsible for the accuracy of any information supplied herein.
Samantha L Corey is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.