Negotiations are something many people dread. Usually, fear holds people back. They don’t want to appear rude, they think they don’t have what it takes, or they’re afraid of being told no.
The flip side is that many things are up for negotiation, from job salaries to home prices. Even saving a little bit off the price of something can result in serious savings over time.
Fortunately, you can minimize the stress of negotiations by planning for them. Doing even a modest amount of preparation can help in two ways. First, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable trying to negotiate something. Second, you’ll have facts and tactics ready when it comes time to the actual conversation.
In terms of preparing yourself for a negotiation, ask yourself these four questions:
- What are you looking to get?
- What’s the least you will take?
- What are you willing to give up or exchange if you need to?
- How much do you know about the other party’s position?
Don’t assume that you have to have a poker face. You never want to overplay your hand, but when it comes to a first offer, you want to do something a little more sophisticated than just looking stone cold.
You never want to accept a first offer. First, you’ll make the other party feel like they’re bad at negotiating. Second, you can almost always do better. Even if their first offer is exactly what you want, or more, show some outrage at the number or offer, but also leave the door open. Ask them for their best offer.
Whatever you do during negotiations, don’t ask questions that can be answered with yes or no. Kiplinger recommends that instead of asking someone if they have flexibility on a matter or price, ask them what flexibility they have. Get them talking to find out what’s possible. Ideally, you’ll only talk about a third of the time, because the more they run their mouth, the more you learn and the less likely you are to make mistakes.
Finally, know when to walk away. Don’t do a deal just for the sake of it. Find another option and negotiate with someone else.