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Tip 1: Avoid the Term Negotiate Whenever Possible

The word negotiate implies a winner and a loser, or at best a compromise between two dissatisfied parties. Instead of “negotiating,” use phrasing such as “come to an agreement,” “work out a plan,” or “arrive at a workable arrangement.” Wording goes a long way in establishing a friendly atmosphere in which everybody feels like a winner.

Tip 2: Consider Several Kinds of Goals Before You Begin a Discussion

To make sure you don’t get sidetracked in talking, identify your primary goal, your immediate goals, your long-term goals, your “nice-to-haves,” and your safeguards. Within each of these frameworks, set ranges. What is the “best” you can expect, and what is the “worst” position you can accept? Keep all of this in mind as you work toward agreement.

Tip 3: Research Your Position and the Situation

Take the time and make the effort to support your position or requests. Read. Gather statistics. Talk to experts. Survey others for majority opinions. When you get ready to talk, you’ll have adequate facts and opinions to support what you want. The more you know, the better the position you’re in to negotiate a win for everybody involved.

Tip 4: Refuse to Negotiate with a Missing Person

This technique has been perfected in car dealerships around the world. The rep who shows you the car always has to trot to the back room to see if the head honcho “will okay the deal you’ve cut.” A more familiar version: An employee walks into your office and asks you to consider “sharing” an administrative assistant, proposing that the assistant work 40 percent of the time in your department and 60 percent of the time in his department. You discuss the division of labor and percentages back and forth and finally state “your best deal” for sharing salary and benefits.

Then the employee announces that everything you’ve negotiated is subject to approval by the boss. In effect, that means that your “best deal” now becomes the starting point for the next round of discussions after you learn “what the boss said.” To avoid putting yourself in this one-down situation, don’t begin to negotiate until you are talking to the person who has authority to make a final decision.

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