Negotiating isn't a straightforward ordeal – it's a skill in itself, and one that can take quite a while to learn, too. There's a reason some people pride themselves on their abilities in this regard, and there's a lot to gain in life in general from having the ability to extract value out of each deal. If you're not sure where to start, there are some common negotiation tactics that many people use these days and learning them is a good idea if you want to get a head start.
Nothing Is Non-negotiable
Sure, this might sound a bit extreme – but if you leverage things right, pretty much everything can be up for negotiation. The important thing is to have the skill to settle on a good price and get other beneficial factors thrown in. Remember, just because someone is claiming that a deal is not up for negotiation doesn't mean that this is final. Let them know what you are willing to offer and see where things go from there. You don't lose anything from at least trying.
If you're not getting anywhere in your negotiations, it could be because the person across the table is not in a position to make these decisions. They may not always make that clear though, so it's often up to you to request an escalation by contacting a higher-up. In many cases, this will be enough to get access to more attractive conditions and expand your options for negotiation. Just don't do it in an aggressive way that makes it seem like you want to complain – this will reduce your chances before you've even talked to the new person!
Don't Lay All Your Cards Down at Once
Leverage is not always used best immediately. Sometimes you should keep your cards to yourself and wait to see how the situation plays out. You may not even have to resort to some of the aces you have up your sleeve in the end. And if you do, they may be much more impactful by revealing them later on. Make sure that you weigh the positives and negatives of showing each option you have and take it easy. Try to read the other person to see how they respond to the different pieces that you do show – this can reveal some surprising insights into their mindset.
Explore All Alternative Offers
Remember that the deal you're negotiating may not even be the only one you have access to either. It's a good idea to scout out the market in advance and know what other options you have. This has multiple benefits. It will give you another piece of leverage to use (or not) as we described above. It will also make you more confident in each deal you sit down to negotiate because you will always know that you can just get up and walk away. This can be a powerful tool, but it can only work out if you scout out the market to collect enough information on alternative deals in advance.
Which brings us to our next point. The simple act of getting up and starting to walk away can sometimes be a game-changer. You may not realize it, but in many of these cases, the person you're negotiating with is the one who stands to lose something if the deal falls through. You? As long as you've done your homework and know your alternative options, nothing is really tying you down to working with this particular deal. This can be very important to realize because sometimes a skilled negotiator will do their best to convince you that they are your only available option. Don't fall for that. Even if you don't have any other options lined up, walking away from a bad deal is still better than taking it.
Last but not least, don't fall for the temptation of misrepresenting facts to gain extra leverage. It might work here and there, but if you do get called out on it, it can ruin the whole deal. There's usually no reason to lie in a reasonable negotiation situation, and as long as you've lined up your cards properly and know your worth, you won't have to do that either. One small lie can quickly spiral out of control and everything will come crashing down with it.
To ensure you have success in your negotiation, experts offer negotiation training and consulting to make sure your plans are in place and you know how to prepare for important negotiations.
And above all – keep practicing. Being a skilled negotiator is largely about developing some habits so that you don't have to stop and think about your next action at your negotiations. There are many ways to practice that in a safe, controlled environment, which will allow you to be truly ready when you come up against a more serious negotiation that requires a specialized approach.