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Set the Right Tone for Your Negotiations

   Article by Michael Chaffers

Most people would prefer never to negotiate. Others gird themselves for positional battles. When you ask your colleagues or your manager to meet with you to negotiate a change in a project, or a raise in your salary, anticipate having to deal with their anxiety and preconceived assumptions about negotiation. The first few things you say and do are significant in setting the tone for your negotiations. The following tips will help you establish a meeting in which it is easy to listen to each other and work together.

1. Clarify the Purposes of the Meeting.

Time is a scarce resource. Your colleagues will appreciate your ability to quickly focus everyone's attention on the reasons for the negotiation and the benefits of a successful resolution for all. You could say, making a final decision about the direction of this project is critical to meeting our deadline, getting this product out the door and hitting our revenue targets. For that reason, I have asked you all to convene and determine where we ought to go from here. This said, your colleagues should not resist investing time and energy in it.

2. Frame the Issue as a Joint Problem You Can Solve Together.

Most people dislike negotiating, especially over tough issues. But those same people may enjoy problem-solving. Present the activity as joint problem-solving so you can effectively engage them in a conversation around the topics you want to negotiate. You might say, I have this issue and I would really value your advice, or, I am not sure how to attack this problem and I could use your help. Then, you can work with them to better understand and attack the issue.

3. Start with the Other Side's Main Points or Concerns.

To make the meeting really feel like a joint problem-solving session, begin by raising the other party's critical needs or concerns. Then, invite them to add more points or otherwise explain their perspective. This will make them feel included in the meeting and will engage their full attention early on. Once they feel heard, they will be more likely to listen to your views and be open to finding a mutually beneficial solution.

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