How to Negotiate Nicely without Being a Pushover

How do you win a tough negotiation without blackening your soul? In an article for Harvard Business Review, Carolyn O’Hara shares tips that show you can both play nice and play hardball. In the first place, you need to understand that you do not have to concede important things in order to maintain a good relationship with the other side. Maintain your dignity and get what you deserve.

With that first point in mind, there are several other tips. Before the real negotiating begins, make small talk with the other person, just to get a read on the person’s personality and build rapport. People with rapport statistically seem to come to agreements faster. It might be most helpful to reframe the whole negotiation in your mind as simply a group problem-solving activity. This removes the adversarial aspect of negotiation and allows you and the other person or people to more smoothly find solutions. On that same note, emphasis “we” over “I,” and if negotiations begin to stall, reiterate all the things that you have been able to agree upon together up till that point in order to retain positivity.

Lastly, remember that if a person takes a hard line stance on something, it could be as a result of pressures or constraints of which you are not aware, as opposed to the person simply having a stubborn personality. Read between the lines and try to ask thoughtful questions that get at the heart of the matter. Specifically, ask why they want certain terms.

For case studies regarding these points, you can view the full article here:

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