4 Tips for Negotiating

Depending on your outlook, almost every conversation could be considered a negotiation of sorts.  Negotiating is a factor in both personal and professional life; unfortunately, it’s also an area in which many people rank themselves as feeling weak. It’s partially a mind-over-matter type of thing (meaning that if one thinks they’re going to fail, they’re probably going to fail), but the other part of the equation is simple preparation.

Here’s what we mean by that: just by knowing your priorities and doing some research ahead of time, your confidence increases, and you feel able to stand your ground. Additionally, identifying your walkaway price and target price (i.e. your ideal price or terms and the point at which you don’t care anymore). Having these firmly locked in your head will reduce the chances of doing something stupid...like being talked into something you don’t want to do.

To back up those terms, research is critical. We don’t mean the type of research that quantifies hours of Googling (unless it’s warranted), but we do mean the depth of reflection necessary to make you feel confident. This gives you the ground you need to stand on when going against someone who’s more aggressive, or is deliberately trying to put you at a disadvantage. 

That’s how to build the base of a sound negotiation strategy but how do you execute? We've got four tips to make the negotiating process as painless as possible!

1. Make the first offer

If you’re trying to decide between two jobs—cleaning the bathroom or cleaning the kitchen, maybe—approach your partner first and make an offer.  Research shows that those who make the first offer tend to walk away with the terms in their favor.

2.  Make a counter offer that satisfies both parties

Everyone wants to feel that they’re receiving a good deal, and this satisfaction is usually derived after a little back and forth. It might sound cliché to say never take the first offer, but arguing for concessions—and giving up a few—creates a more ideal outcome.

3. Offer up some information

It seems counterintuitive, right? But by showing a couple cards, you’re actually establishing rapport. People tend to follow what’s called a ‘norm of reciprocity,’ meaning they respond in kind to how they’re treated. Very golden rule-ish, eh? So if you’re negotiating for a higher salary, slip in a little information about your family, your work, something along those lines that opens up the negotiation.

4. Don’t counter too low (or high)

In cases when people aren’t able to make the first offer, they tend to fall prey to the ‘anchoring effect:’ they go too low too soon.  Stick to your original plan; pretend like you’re still extending the first offer. Or, if the original offer is way, way, WAY off, let them know that. Reset the expectations...but on your terms.


Coupled with the aforementioned tips and a little research, negotiating can become a positive experience.  Learning to negotiate is an important step toward getting what you want out of life, but it won’t happen without first asking for it. So start developing that mental model, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat: I am good at negotiating...I am good at negotiating...

Are YOU good at negotiating? What tips help you get what you want?