I’m sitting at my computer looking at the email I wrote three days prior. Why is it that I can’t send it? The reason is because it’s the deal of my life. It has the capacity to shape my future and allow me to do something that will make a global impact.
The email I’m about to send only has one sentence. The sentence contains my one line reply to the offer I’m willing to accept. There is a chance I’m being too greedy, or too assertive or too whatever. That’s the risk I have to take because that’s what negotiation is all about.
I hit send on the email, and suddenly I felt a wave of relief. What made the email so hard to send was that it was going to a close friend. This meant the odds of failure became higher. It’s these new high-stake odds of failure that I now thrive on.
In the past, I would have lowered by standards or avoided confrontation, but now I’ve accepted those fears as part of the process of daily growth. Avoiding tough decisions will not make you happy; in fact, it will make you incredibly unhappy.
Getting used to the tough negotiations and the extreme stress that can come with the process is the way you become a better decision maker long term. As you become a pro decision maker, you can get yourself into powerful situations that others can only dream of.
Here is how to negotiate the major deals of your life:
1. Negotiate with yourself first
Above everything else I have mentioned, you have to negotiate with yourself first. You must know the following about yourself before you enter any negotiation:
- What value do you bring?
- What’s the minimum you are willing to accept?
- Is this your version of the deal of your life? If not, then call off the negotiation.
- What does the other side get?
- What can go wrong?
- Is this the best opportunity to achieve your dream?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be in agreement with yourself. The biggest factor in your success is you. The way you think and the negotiation you have with yourself is where all of your success will stem from. Be harsh on yourself and ask the challenging questions.
“When you’re aligned with yourself, there’s no negotiation you can’t win” – Tim Denning
2. Let the other side make an offer
When the negotiating starts, the first thing you must do is shut up and let the other side make the first offer. The first offer can often be very different from what you expect. Once the offer is out on the table, the negotiation begins, and you have the advantage.
3. Start outlandish
This is your future we’re talking about. I want you to counter the first offer with some stupidly outlandish offer. The idea in negotiating is to reach a middle ground slowly. I’ve had times where I have put a crazy offer on the table, and it’s been accepted first off.
Don’t be afraid to start big and keep your poker face on so they know you mean business.
4. Be 100% honest
Negotiation breaks down when both sides are not being honest. By being honest, you have a much greater chance of getting what you want. Everyone wants to negotiate with people that are honest. If you bullshit to people, then you will get found out, and you’ll destroy the deal of your life.
Being honest allows a negotiation to reach an outcome much sooner.
5. Talk about the fear you have
While offers are going back and forth, talk about the fears you have. Use this as leverage for the other side to reconsider their position. If they present you with their fear, counteract it with the opposite fear to their own.
Where possible, counteract their fear with a solution that makes logical sense. Then renegotiate the offer again which will put you in a much stronger position.
6. Don’t forget your value
Your value can easily be underestimated. Remember what you bring to the table and get good at summarising the key points of your value. Each time you ask for more, circle back over the value you bring before presenting your “ask.”
We all undervalue ourselves far too easily, and we’re talked down from our position. Be crystal clear on why you do what you do, and don’t be afraid to compare yourself with others. You need to speak with vision, purpose, and passion, so that your value can be highlighted.
7. Let emotion shine through
This is the deal of your life we’re talking about. This is the time to demonstrate your emotion and use it to bring everyone you’re negotiating with closer. Tell some powerful stories that set the scene for why you belong in this negotiation.
Wear your heart on your sleeve and be proud of the journey you’ve travelled to get to this point. Talk about all the growth you’ve endured to be where you are today and about the tough times you’ve gone through.
Talk about your failures as much as possible and let them be the education that allowed you to think the way you do. Your emotion is what is going to get people to side with you, and give up some of what they want, to have you take the lead.
In a negotiation, you’ll be amazed how little the other side will settle for when you allow them to experience a mixed range of emotions that end with them feeling good.
8. Show how much you want it
Don’t sit there being half-assed about why you’re there. Make sure that if there is one thing the other side knows, it’s how badly you want this opportunity. Make them understand that you will give everything you have and go broke if that’s what it’s going to take.
If you’re not prepared to say these sort of lines, then you have to ask yourself why you’re there in the first place. Everyone loves to see another human being dedicated to the cause and ready to give it their all. It’s this idea that is the cornerstone of all sport. It can help you negotiate.
9. Demonstrate confidence
Without letting your ego become inflated, be confident with who you are. Know that you’re at the negotiating table for a reason and believe in yourself. You have been picked for this opportunity because, whether you know it or not, it is part of your destiny.
Sit or stand up straight, and take action in a slow and very deliberate way.
10. Allow long pauses
The worst thing you can do in a negotiation is break long pauses of silence. The other side may be in a thought pattern that benefits you and, by you breaking that pattern, you could essentially destroy your success in the negotiation. Silence is bliss.
Silence means you’re making people think. Imagine the negotiation like a chess game. Every move is calculated. If you’re hit with a difficult question, don’t feel the need to answer right away. In fact, don’t be afraid to be excused while you think it over. You can even phone a friend if you need to.
11. Both sides need to win
What you must understand about negotiation is that deals only get done when both sides win. If you’re the only one that can win then the other side won’t agree to a position. Find a way to negotiate where you get what you want, and articulate what the other side gets that is of similar value.
I’ve seen many deals done over my time where one side gets a massively bigger win than the other. These deals don’t last, and someone always ends up breaking the contract or going back on their word.
12. Dust off the anxiety and fear
It’s a nervous thing to negotiate the deal of your life. It takes guts, and most people avoid these decisions. Not you, though. You’re braver than most. Dust off the fear which we all have, and accept that the negotiations may fail.
You’re going to sweat, your hand might shake a bit, and you might need to sit down. That’s cool. Try taking a few deep breathes and incorporate a few minutes of meditation, if you can, before the big moment. Meditation will make all the difference, keeping you cool, calm and composed.
13. Use competitive tension
In all my negotiations, I’m never scared to use leverage. The way you do this is through competitive tension. Almost always, you’ve got another deal on the table, and you need to let the people you’re negotiating with know that.
Tell them about the other offers, and then tell them how you’re prepared to forget all of them because this is the right opportunity for you. Tell them you’re having this conversation because this is the deal you want to get done, not the others. However, always mention that you’re prepared to look at the other offers in the event that an agreement can’t be reached.
This tactic works as long as you don’t come across as a smart ass. The whole idea is to create some urgency and let everyone know where they stand.
14. Cement it in writing (friends can have issues too)
Once you get the deal you’re after, get both sides to sign something so it’s official. If you walk away with no commitment and nothing in writing, you’re leaving the terms of the deal wide open for further negotiation.
Even if you’re dealing with friends and family, this rule still applies. It’s in these circumstances that you need things in writing because emotion is more likely to take over, and make you do something you’ll regret.
15. Be prepared to walk away
This one’s the scariest, but it’s a must. When you’re negotiating the deal of your life, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that another opportunity won’t come around again. It will.
The mindset you need to foster is that even if you mess everything up and the deal falls through, you can always go back later and negotiate from scratch. By being prepared to walk away, you demonstrate to the people you’re negotiating with that you are serious.
The moment you’re deemed as not being serious, all your negotiating power disappears. It’s like when 99% of people are offered a pay rise or a promotion; they just accept what’s told to them. Never accept, always negotiate, and be prepared to walk away.
The result of the email was that I got what I wanted exactly and achieved slightly better results than I expected. In the process, I’ve become credible in the eyes of the other party, and we’ve both come to a position that works overall.
What’s the most critical negotiation you’ve ever been through, and how did it turn out? What did you learn in the process? Let me know on my website timdenning.net or my Facebook.
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