Four Ways to Negotiate like a Boss

Ah negotiating...

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The word alone used to make me cringe.

When I was 11 years old my family went on a trip to South Africa to visit our cousins. It was a trip I will never forget, such an incredibly beautiful country and so many fun family memories. During our stay our cousins took us to the market place for shopping. This was my first experience with negotiation. To little me the market was absolutely WILD. I'd never been to a store without price tags! The concept that someone could tell you a price and then you could tell them a different one was a complete shock. And I couldn't handle it. I asked my mom if I could go inside and wait for it to be over. The whole process made me so uncomfortable. I felt bad for everyone.

While I don't LOVE negotiating now I absolutely face it head on when necessary. I've become pretty good at it considering my super humble beginnings!

In business there are negotiations going on all of the time. With clients, with colleagues, with landlords, with service providers, with contractors - all of the time. Making peace with the fact that this is part of the process makes it a lot easier for me.

And recognizing there is a bit of a formula...

Here are the top four ways I've become a better negotiator 

1. The best negotiations are when everyone leaves content. Not happy, but content. The phrase, "you can't win them all" totally applies to negotiating - well really, you can't win it all. Both parties at the end of the deal should feel like they've made some compromise but ultimately accepted an offer that works for both of them. Be reasonable and as much as possible put yourself in the other person's shoes.

2. Know your place. Either you are the lion or the mouse. And be very clear who you are before you go into a deal.

When you're the mouse there is no reason why you can't be mighty but you also can't be ridiculous. Especially when you're on this underdog side of a deal you have to have a CLEAR plan in mind. As the mouse it is a good idea to know all of your avenues. Can you negotiate and ask for cash? If you're signing a lease perhaps you can offer to extend a term to get a discount? 

When you're the lion - be confident but kind to the mouse, remember karma is a bitch. 

3. Never complain that you made a bad deal after you've made a deal. If you agreed to a "bad" deal then rack it up as good learning experience and move on. Complaining after a deal is done is SO unprofessional. If you make a deal, you make a deal. Do not look back, you're not going that way.

If you truly feel like you got a bad deal ask yourself instead - what do I need to takeaway from this experience? Am I overfixhted on the details here? Should I learn to speak up for myself more in the moment? Did I go in unprepared? Or do I even have the right to be mad at this or am I just looking for a distraction to be mad at away from what is really going on for me?

4. Ultimately, if a deal is ever going to work it is going to work right away 99% of the time or it is never going to work. I've learned this lesson the hard way a few more times than I care to admit. If a deal clicks and it is a go. Never chase a deal down because it will be a waste of time and in the long run it won't be worth it for you.

On this last one tip I'll leave with a personal story. When I first started in the fitness industry I was thinking of pairing up with a medical doctor to do a joint health and fitness program. She was an incredible client, a totally caring physician and we had a lot of great positive working chemistry together.
I spend months working on a business plan, having meetings with my parents and their business friends. We got to a point where we had floor plans drawn up and the lease was almost signed. Then I pulled the plug and the deal fell through. In retrospect I should have clued in months earlier that this wasn't going to work but I didn't want to listen to my intuition so I just kept trying to make it work. Ultimately there was a completely imbalanced commitment model and I just couldn't work with that. At the time I was devastated. Ultimately though everything happens for a reason and this was a huge learning chapter for me.

This is one of the first times I was taught the lesson of if it is going to work, there should be no need to force anything. Relationships. Pony tails. Business deals - don't force them.

Bottom Line :

Negotiating does not need to be terrifying. In fact, it can be totally rewarding. Confidence is critical. Go get em tigers.  

Christie Preston