Total Reading Time: 4 minutes, 30 seconds.
The secret to big wins is all about learning the art of negotiation, something that scares a lot of people. Most of these people, especially those outside of the business world, see negotiating as confrontational, and find it awkward and/or intimidating.
Have you noticed that those who are stronger negotiators tend to get what they want more often than not? If you can learn to redefine the way you feel about negotiating and shift the reactive emotional patterns your body takes on when negotiating in person, you can radically change your life in many different areas. Whether it’s negotiating a lease, a new car, a raise, or even doing a favor for someone, learning and mastering this skill will pay off big time. Combine the art of negotiation with secret to success and you’re well on your way to getting exactly what you want.
I’m going to use the simplest real-life example (a rather personal story) of a negotiation I had recently to show you just how effective this process is. Through the years, I’ve learned to love negotiating and I truly look forward to situations that can be awkward for most people. I know, it sounds ridiculous and kind of weird, but it’s true. I simply changed my mindset and the way I feel about those situations. Now, I look at them as an opportunity. That, in and of itself, has helped me learn to appreciate the art of negotiating.
When I was leaving Google, I asked for meetings with the Human Resources department to figure out exactly how all my salary, benefits, bonuses, vacation, paid time off, stock units, etc. would be paid out. There were pretty clear rules around how each benefit would be issued and when. What I didn’t realize was that an additional portion of the precious Google Stock Units I owned would vest (belong to me) only a week after my last official day on payroll.
Obviously, I knew this would be a pretty big chunk of change. Right away, I mentioned the situation to my HR contact and received a firm and quick “it is what it is” type of response.
So, I began to strategize…

Step 1: Who is the decision-maker?

Is the person you’re talking to the actual decision-maker?

If so, how should you be approaching them about this topic? Consider things like timing, setting, method, etc.

If not, find out who is immediately and either get an introduction or find a way to contact this person appropriately.

Step 2: What’s in it for them?

Write down everything the other person could possibly gain from the situation. Remember that when you speak to them it must be to their interests, not yours.

If you were them and approached by an individual with the same offer, what would you say? If it’s not an easy yes then you need to re-strategize and dig deeper into their needs/wants. The key here is addressing their needs and situation.

If there’s nothing in the offer that’s appealing or they can gain from, bring in an outside factor to help balance out the scale.

Step 3: Make your offer

Make your offer in a clear, concise, and upfront manner.

Speak in their interests, not yours.

If you’re reaching out through email, make sure your offer and what you’re looking to accomplish is one of the first three sentences. Do not “sandwich” your proposition in an email, what you want needs to be mentioned at the very top. Again, be clear, concise, and upfront. And remember: less is more.

Step 4: Shut up

After you make your offer, be quiet. Don’t make a face, don’t make a sound, don’t start selling reasons/benefits why this is good for them, and don’t send a follow up email with an alternative option because you’re nervous. Just, shut up 🙂

Trust me. The #1 reason most people fail at negotiating is that they continue to speak or sell after the offer has been made.

In my case, after strategizing (always on paper), I decided that an email was best for the situation.
I sent a very clear follow-up email about a week after our first discussion on the topic. In that email I made my offer—something of value that I could offer my team and the company, and would benefit multiple parties. In return, I asked for an adjustment to be made on payroll that would clearly benefit me. The entire email was four sentences.

End of story: $11,249.00

We tend to make things bigger, more difficult, and more intimidating than they really are. The key is to take action and start writing things down. The more you sit there and allow yourself to replay scenarios in your head, the more crazy you start to feel. Take the time to think in terms of their interests and make your offer.
The absolute worst thing that can happen is hearing the word: “No.”
What’s worse—hearing the word “no”, or missing out on $11,249.00? Don’t pass up your chance. At the end of the day, people will respect you more for attempting to negotiate and will most likely meet you halfway, just for trying.

Photo credit: The Used Car SalesmanCC License