Negotiation is part and parcel of working in any business, especially if you interact with clients regularly. It’s a skill that you absolutely have to master if you wish to successfully close deals, work out compromises, and sometimes even push back a little when necessary.
If the idea of potential conflict scares you, negotiating with clients may seem quite intimidating, perhaps even too risky. That fear, however, most likely comes from some misconceptions that you have heard over the years. To become a successful negotiator, you need to clear your mind of these thoughts, and unlearn those dangerous myths, such as the ones listed below:
1. ‘You have to be born with the talent to do it’.
Some believe that only those who were born with natural charisma can become good negotiators. However, that simply isn’t the case. If anything, it has only become an excuse to not learn how to do it at all.
The truth is that anybody can learn how to negotiate if given the proper tools and resources.
That’s because the art of persuasion isn’t a talent, but a skill that can be cultivated. By learning techniques such as effective verbal communication, problem-solving, and rapport building, even a complete novice can learn how to put the odds in their favour.
2. ‘You have to rely purely on your instincts’.
When watching master negotiators at work, it may seem as if they’re able to change gears on the spot to get what they want.
But what you may think is instinct is actually the cumulative result of practicing and studying effective negotiation techniques over a long period of time. Many experts consider depending only gut feelings can be unreliable because these instincts could influence you to make decisions based on emotions rather than facts.
Instead, a good negotiator turns to objective data and gathers advice from reliable sources. With this pertinent information in hand, they can prepare a solid plan before ever setting foot into the meeting room.
3. ‘It’s impossible to negotiate across cultures’.
Just because two parties are from different cultures doesn’t mean that they could never meet in the middle. After all, there is some common ground in their agendas that has brought them together in the first place.
While it’s not impossible, it may indeed be a bit more difficult to negotiate if you are talking to someone with a different background from yours. The trick is to learn about what makes them tick, as well as how their culture affects their values and the decisions that they make. Then, work within those limits to come to an agreement that benefits both parties.
4. ‘You have to treat it as a battle that you have to win’.
If you view negotiation as a fight, then you’ll inevitably get exactly that: a fight. Emotions may run high, and the meeting may end up devolving into a heated argument. If you push too hard, you risk having the other person walk away from what could have been a mutually beneficial deal.
You don’t necessarily have to come out of the conversation as a winner, per se. It’s best to let go of the idea of ‘winning’ or ‘losing.’ Instead, the goal of any negotiation should be to have both parties come away with a solution that works for everybody.
Thus, it’s best to think of negotiation more as a process of collaboration, where you both work on a solution together. Be clear about what you can and cannot do, but also be open to suggesting alternatives that may work equally as well.
5. ‘Experience is the best way to learn how to negotiate’.
Some believe that experience is the best teacher. While there is certainly something to be said about learning from your mistakes, experience may be the most expensive way to learn.
You do have to practice to a certain extent, that much is true. However, you can’t just keep charging into meetings without at least making some preparations beforehand. You’ve also got to know the reasons why you weren’t able to close the deal so that you’ll know what areas to improve on in future. Otherwise, you’ll just make the same blunders over and over.
There are many things you could do to save yourself from making a mistake in the first place. You can start by studying basic techniques, asking for input from skilled negotiators, or simply outlining your plan of attack, to name a few.
These are just a few of the most common negotiation myths that you may have heard. Besides letting go of these misconceptions, it’s important to learn a few best practices to become a more skilled negotiator, too. Make sure to always come prepared, focus on collaboration rather than competition, and to listen more than you speak.
By freeing yourself from these limiting beliefs and cultivating a more productive mindset, you’ll be setting yourself up for more successful negotiations down the line.