The ability to negotiate is one of the key factors that can make the difference between success and failure. Here are the top 10 ways to succeed:

1. Want something? Ask for it. Be assertive and challenge everything. Being assertive means taking care of your own interest and also maintaining the respect the interest of others. Let people know what you want in a non-threatening way. For example, instead of saying “You shouldn’t do that”, you can try to substitute with “I am not comfortable with that”

2. Do your homework. It is crucial to gather all the information prior to the negotiation. It is also important to understand the other parties needs and the pressures they feel. The more you understand the other side’s position, the better you are able to provide a good proposition.

3. Patience. If you are in a rush, it is likely that you will make mistakes. Whoever is more flexible about time will have the advantage. Patience can be quite devastating to the other negotiator because they will start to think that you are not under pressure to conclude the deal. As a result, they may offer concessions to provide you with an incentive to say YES.

4. Listen. Ask relevant and probing questions and avoid saying too much. Follow the 70/30 rule. Listen 70 percent of the time and talk only 30 percent.  Encourage the other party to talk by asking open ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple YES or NO.

5. Aim high and expect the best outcome. People who aim higher do better and successful negotiators are optimists. If you expect more, you’ll get more. A proven strategy for achieving higher results is opening with an extreme position. Sellers should ask for more than they expect to receive, and buyers should offer less than they are prepared to pay. Your optimism will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, if you have low expectations, you will probably wind up with a less satisfying outcome.

6. Be prepared to walk away. Never negotiate without options. If you depend too much on the positive outcome of a negotiation, you lose your ability to say NO. When you say to yourself, “I will walk if I can’t conclude a deal that is satisfactory,” the other side can tell that you mean business. Your resolve will force them to make concessions. If you are not desperate – if you recognize that you have other options – the other negotiator will sense your inner strength.

7. Don’t give anything away without getting something in return. Unilateral concessions are self-defeating. Whenever you give something away, get something in return. When you give something away without requiring them to reciprocate, they will feel entitled to your concession, and won’t be satisfied until you give up even more. But if they have to earn your concession, they will derive a greater sense of satisfaction than if they got it for nothing.

8. Focus on the other side’s pressure, not yours. When you focus on your own limitations, you miss the big picture. Instead, successful negotiators ask, “What is the pressure on the other side in this negotiation?” You will feel more powerful when you recognize the reasons for the other side to give in. If you discover that they are under pressure, which they surely are, look for ways to exploit that pressure in order to achieve a better result for yourself.

9. Show the other person how their needs will be met. Successful negotiators always look at the situation from the other side’s perspective. Everyone looks at the world differently, so you are way ahead of the game if you can figure out their perception of the deal. Instead of trying to win the negotiation, seek to understand the other negotiator and show them ways to feel satisfied.

If you help the other side to feel satisfied, they will be more inclined to help you satisfy your needs. That does not mean you should give in to all their positions. Satisfaction means that their basic interests have been fulfilled, not that their demands have been met. Don’t confuse basic interests with positions/demands: Their position/demand is what they say they want; their basic interest is what they really need to get.

10. Don’t take the issues or the other person’s behavior personally. All too often negotiations fail because one or both of the parties get sidetracked by personal issues unrelated to the deal at hand. Successful negotiators focus on solving the problem, which is: How can we conclude an agreement that respects the needs of both parties? Obsessing over the other negotiator’s personality, or over issues that are not directly pertinent to making a deal, can sabotage a negotiation. If someone is rude or difficult to deal with, try to understand their behavior and don’t take it personally.

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