8 Tips for Successful Negotiating

By Joni Lindquist

Many of us dislike negotiating, whether it’s a work-related issue or buying a new car or house. We may vacillate between “trying to win” and “not upsetting” the other party. Or we may be concerned in losing the opportunity. Here are eight tips to improve your negotiating skills:

1. Know Your Goal(s)
A clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish is a critical starting point. If you have several priorities, rank them. Know what is most important and least important to you. This will give you a set of criteria to know what you’re willing to “give on” and what you are most committed to.

2. Prepare!
Do your research. If you are asking for a raise at work, know what you are worth on the open market. One source is, where you can enter job title and geography and size of company to get ranges of comparable jobs. Industry trade associations may also have useful information as to salary ranges for various types of jobs in their industry. If this is a work-related situation, prepare with appropriate data that supports your position. Be ready however, for others to interpret your data differently.

Understand if you or the party is anchored on a number or range. It is very tough to move from anchors.

3. Practice to Build Confidence
If it’s an important negotiation for you, role play different scenarios with someone. The other person can play the role of the other party, and by doing several walk-throughs you will likely uncover how the other party may be thinking and the positions they may take. Practice the words you will use on the tough issues. For example, if you are negotiating salary, and the offer is lower than your expectations, choose words like “the number I had in mind is $X”. If in salary negotiations for a new job and asked about your prior compensation; politely decline by saying “I prefer to keep that confidential, given my experience and qualifications I’m looking in the range of $X.”

This practice will help you navigate through the discussion and maintain your emotions. You will bring more confidence into the real negotiation.

4. Find Common Ground
Particularly in a work situation, try to find what you DO AGREE on first, to set a good foundation for the rest of the negotiations. This may be goals, philosophy, values or outcomes. Putting yourself in the other party’s shoes is extremely valuable. It may be that you agree on 80% of the issues, so by identifying these you can focus on the true areas requiring further discussion. There is an emotional component too, where we feel better about each other when we agree, setting positive foundation for the trickier issues.

5. Ask Questions – and LISTEN!
Make sure you understand the other person’s concerns and not just at a surface level. People often say one thing when there is really something else going on. Use phrases such as “tell me more…” or “say more”. Use active listening and then paraphrase the points so the other person knows they’ve been heard. You may find more common ground, or better understand their concerns and then address them more effectively going forward.

6. Slow Down!
Under stress, we often speed up. Instead, use pauses to slow yourself down. Having the other party talk more is not a bad thing. Count to ten before responding in an emotional situation. Slowing down can help you craft your language carefully. Be thoughtful, respectful and measure in your approach. Don’t show them you’re sweating! Avoid being negative or worse, rude, about the other position. This is not a race to the finish. Ask for 24 hours to give yourself space to think through all the ramifications of the offer.

7. Be creative and flexible.
Avoid falling into all or nothing traps; or “either this OR that”. Explore with “and” – is there a way to accomplish both? By bending a bit on your lower priorities, can you find a win-win? Think broadly and identify new possibilities or options.

8. Know Your Walk Away
Know what the worst is that you are willing to accept. Set this bar before negations heat up. Remain confident, if you’ve followed the first 7 Steps you’ve likely done an excellent job negotiating, yet that doesn’t mean you will get everything. Likewise, don’t be willing to settle. Stand firm for your highest priorities and know when to walk away. I’ve started walking off a car lot and had the manager run after us with a much better deal.

Follow these tips and the more experience you get in negotiating, the better you will become! To discuss your specific situation and challenges at work, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Joni Lindquist –, or call (913) 345-1881.