Are you afraid to negotiate? Does your heart start racing and do you start to get that sick feeling in your stomach? Or maybe the opposite is true for you. You are excited, ready for battle and willing to throw your competition to the mat at every negotiation.

Negotiation is seldom a skill high on the list for communications and public relations professionals. However, it is one of the most essential skills to be effective in communications. Most in the field negotiate at least once per day but many do not realize it. So the good news is, you have techniques you are using but may not be aware of. The even better news is that I am going to offer you a few more that will help you become more comfortable with negotiation.

And like almost every thing in life, preparation is the key.

Here are a few simple techniques towards effective negotiation:

Before you begin your negotiation, write down what outcome you desire from the negotiation. I would do this even a day before if you have the time. Make sure that the person you are negotiating with has the power to deliver the outcome you desire.

Start to write down some options for expanding your ask. In the negotiation world this is called “expanding your options at the table.” In a job negotiation, research salaries and always, always ask for more than what you are offered. To expand your ask, ask about increasing vacation days, 401k contributions, moving reviews earlier in the process, and increased titles.

Know your best alternative(s). Think of other ways to reach your outcome and write that down. For example, if you want a raise but are currently being denied one due to policy and procedures, ask if your performance can be reviewed earlier than planned. Or if it is a new title you are after to position yourself in the job market, ask for a bump in title in lieu of a raise. If you cannot get a negotiated agreement, ask for your best alternative.

Determine when to walk away before you get to the table. The last point in your writing exercise is to determine when to walk away before you are in negotiation. Only you have the answer to that – but you must be prepared to exercise the walk. This point is the point of reducing returns. Now this does not mean that you dramatically walk out and slam the door a la Bette Davis. You can politely excuse yourself and let the other party know that the terms do not currently meet your needs.

If the writing exercise makes you squirm, the good news is that practice makes perfect. It usually takes me ten to fifteen minutes to write out my negotiation before I go in. And remember, the person who is calm wins. Leave the fear, nervousness and aggression at the door.

You will soon find that the above can apply to almost every area of your life and you will start to enjoy negotiation.

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