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How to Negotiate About Anything: The Ultimate Successful Negotiation Guide

Read Time: 9 min
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Read Time: 9 min

Negotiation is a key life skill. We start negotiating almost as soon as we learn to talk and beg for an extra cookie. Joking aside, learning to balance getting what you want with meeting others’ needs is essential for both personal life and business. 

In this negotiation guide, you’ll learn more about the art of negotiation. Discover how to improve negotiating skills to get the result you want, or one you can live with. We'll also share some templates to help you with your best negotiation tactics.

Why Learn How to Negotiate?

There are several reasons why it makes sense to boost your negotiating skills.

For a start, everyone goes into a negotiation with their own priorities. In most cases not everyone can get what they want. 

If two or more people are involved in a situation, having a grasp of the best negotiation tactics is often the only way to get to the necessary compromise. When you learn how to bargain effectively, it can help you get closer to your ideal solution.

When Do You Need to Negotiate?

There are several situations in which knowing the secrets of successful negotiation comes in handy. 

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Negotiating skills are an important business skill. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Negotiation in Business

One of the most common examples of negotiation in business, for which there are reams of negotiation tips, is the business deal. Negotiation skills are useful whether you're considering a collaboration between individuals or a deal between two companies wanting to do business or tackle a particular market. 

In any situation where contracts need to be signed, like what we see on legal dramas, knowing how to negotiate is one key to success. Getting tips on successful negotiation isn't just useful for large businesses, but for individuals.

For example, freelance creatives have to negotiate all the time, balancing what works for them with their clients' needs.  It's always important to:

  • lay out the details of what products or services are expected
  • how these will be delivered
  • what compensation is required
  • what happens if things go wrong

Since each party involved will look to protect their own interests, knowing the best negotiation tactics is crucial.

Other Reasons to Get Negotiation Tips

Negotiation is also a key tool in conflict resolution, whether that's for business or personal reasons. You can see negotiation skills examples in mediation, where people are trying to balance competing requirements or set the terms of future relationships and interactions. 

And negotiation is key in major life events such as:

  • marriage and divorce
  • living together
  • buying a home
  • even smaller events like buying and selling items

In all those situations, each person involved wants something and may have to compromise to get what they want. 

What Does Success in Negotiation Look Like?

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Do you know how to recognize a successful negotiation? (Image source: Envato Elements)

Read any negotiation guide, and you'll learn that a successful negotiation is where there's an equitable outcome.  What does this mean?

Another way to think about it is that the result of the negotiation is fair and just, and that both parties - or all parties involved - feel that they win something. Of course, they may also have to give up something they wanted.  But in an ideal world, everyone involved in a negotiation comes out feeling that they have had some success. 

How to Negotiate Successfully

Ready to learn how to improve your negotiation skills? Read on for some proven negotiation tips and tactics: 

1. Choose Neutral Ground

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It may be helpful to go to a mediator's office for your negotiation. (Image source: Envato Elements)

The first step in a successful negotiation is to choose neutral ground.  The human mind is powerful, and sometimes suggestible. Choosing a location for your negotiation that's the home ground of one of the parties involved can give that person a mental advantage and leave the other folks at a disadvantage. 

In a business negotiation, consider moving proceedings to a neutral conference room rather than picking one person's office location. People who are negotiating a relationship often choose to go to a mediator's office rather than pick one home or another for the discussion.

2. Be Clear On Your Goal

Before even thinking about how to bargain, know what you want to achieve, and what your target outcome is. Whether you eventually achieve it or not, it's worth having an idea of what you're aiming for. The other party in the negotiation will likely do the same. 

3. Know Where You Can Compromise

As mentioned earlier, a successful negotiation is where both parties get something and often where both parties give something up.

You'll have to know what you're prepared to compromise on to achieve a deal or a successful mediation. Knowing this in advance helps you guide the negotiation in the direction you want. 

4. Know Your Deal Breakers 

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In any negotiation each side is likely to have deal breakers. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Similarly, in any negotiation, there will be things that are non-negotiable for you and issues that you won't compromise on. Know what these are upfront, so that you can make this completely clear during the negotiation.

Of course, know that in a negotiation, you may also come across the other party's deal breakers. A successful negotiation means navigating this so you both end up with a solution you're happy with.

5. Understand Your Relative Bargaining Power

No matter how good your negotiating skills are, sometimes you may have the upper hand  in a negotiation, and sometimes you won't. Again, part of your preparation is knowing whether you're entering a negotiation from a position of relative strength or weakness and what you have in your favor that you can use in the negotiation.

For example, if you're the market leader in a business sector, you'll often be negotiating from a position of strength. But it's not always clear cut, as sometimes you might need a potential hire or acquisition more than they need you. 

6. Use Attentive Listening

Any negotiation guide will tell you that silence can be a good tactic in a negotiation. If you listen actively, you may get to understand what the other person really wants and what's important to them. And you'll know how those match with your goals, dealbreakers and potential areas of compromise. This is very useful as you move towards a deal.

7. Know Where Others Will Compromise

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For a successful negotiation, you should understand the other party's position. (Image source: Envato Elements)

When you listen, you'll get to understand where other people stand in the negotiation. One thing you're listening for is any signal of where the person is prepared to compromise. When you understand this, it'll help the negotiation proceed more smoothly.

8. Give to Get

One way to build trust in a negotiation is to reveal one of the areas of potential compromise. That tells the other person you're not just trying to gain the upper hand and are prepared to be flexible.  Building trust in this way can help the rest of the negotiation go smoothly. 

9. Agree a Solution

Once everybody has declared where they'll compromise, what their deal breakers are, and understands what their goals are, as well as their relative bargaining power, it's time to get to a solution. Sometimes you'll be able to achieve this with a direct conversation, though in some cases, having a third party or intermediary may help.

Successful Negotiation Strategies

Want to give yourself an edge in negotiations? Here are a few negotiation strategies to try:

  • Focus on facts. Be factual rather than emotional in order to take the heat out of any negotiation. This can help you get more quickly to a place of balance and agreement 
  • Use mirror words. Mirror words help by mimicking the language that the other person is using. That helps them feel seen, heard and understood and makes them less defensive in discussing the terms of your negotiation. 
  • Mirror body language. Similarly, mirroring the person's body language can also help make the whole atmosphere more relaxed. 
  • Give a deadline. Ideally, you don't want the negotiation to drag on forever. So, agree between you a time when you'll end the negotiation and reach a conclusion. 
  • Ask how or what questions. Asking these open questions is a way to let the other person know that you're listening and make them more receptive to what you have to say. 

Negotiation Tactics to Watch Out For 

If the list above represents some of the best negotiation tactics, what we're about to share are some of the worst ones. Try to avoid these. But it's worth being aware of them so you can identify when they're being used against you.

  • Bluffing and bullying. Bluffing is all well and good in a card game, but it's not always a great negotiation tactic. The person who's trying it may not be in a strong position. The bottom line, though, is that if a negotiation isn't based on honesty and transparency, then it's really not a very good negotiation at all.
  • Similarly, look out for lies and threats, which are another sign that the other person isn't being transparent. Lies and threats tend to erode trust and mean that nobody can rely on the outcome of the negotiation. After all, if people lie even when you're negotiating, how can you be sure that they're going to stick with the terms of your deal?
  • Good cop, bad cop. We've all seen this on crime dramas, and we recognize it as a tactic. That means you can spot it easily if someone is trying it on you. The red flag here is that using this strategy suggests that people are trying to manipulate you. Again, this isn't a good basis for good faith negotiation.

Learn More About Negotiation 

Want to learn more about the art of negotiation? Check out these tutorials from Envato Tuts+:

Templates for Your Next Negotiation

If you want to negotiate a deal, you can use templates and presentations to present your side of the argument. Envato Elements has a wonderful deal for you. You can find pitch deck templates or landing pages, stationary, and many other negotiation tools. 

Explore Envato Elements

Use Pitch Deck templates to negotiate.Use Pitch Deck templates to negotiate.Use Pitch Deck templates to negotiate.
You can use a pitch deck template from Envato Elements to start negotiations.

Download as many presentation templates and document templates as you want for one low price. Invest in Envato Elements today.

Negotiate Your Next Deal Today

In this guide you've learned how to improve your negotiation skills. We've covered how to negotiate, what's needed for a negotiation, what success looks like and some of the key negotiation tactics to use and to avoid. Now it's over to you to negotiate your next deal today.

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