22 Negotiation Tips To Take You From Beginner To Pro

Want to get ALL the tips that Randy shared with us on the go? Check out the entire podcast episode to learn all the powerful negotiation tactics that this former Chief of Staff in congress shared with us.

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Something that people often don’t realize is that they're negotiating all the time.

We try to get what we want from other people, but many people simply don’t know how to do so.

Here's the thing—negotiating is a skill.

Just like any skill, you need to learn how to do it properly to get better at it, which is what we're going to be covering today.

We're going to discuss how to get what you want from negotiations and—just as important—how to do it in a way that keeps your relationship with the other person intact and strong.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with former Chief of Staff in Congress and master negotiator, Randy Kutz. He now works with ScotWork Global Negotiation, which is the foremost leading institution that teaches negotiation.

So, let’s go over the powerful negotiation tips that I learned from the master negotiator Randy Kutz.

#1: Focus On The Process

The problem a lot of people have when they enter into a negotiation is that they're fixated on what they want out of the deal.

They're purely outcome-focused, and they ignore the process.

Ironically, this affects the outcome in a negative way.

Instead of focusing purely on the outcome, good negotiators focus on the process. 

Randy's a big advocate of preparing properly for the negotiation and negotiating in a way that's good not only for the specific deal but also for deals in the future.

#2: Don't Be A Competitive Negotiator

Here’s the problem with competitive negotiators—they think of negotiation as a zero-sum game. They don’t care about what the other party gets—which is not a great way to negotiate.

Sure, you can be a competitive negotiator in a one-off deal, but you won’t end up with many repeat deals if you negotiate this way.

Instead, you need to not only focus on what you want from the deal but also what your counterpart wants from the deal.

#3: Be Well-Prepared

The thing most people don’t realize is that you need to do the work before you come to the table to prepare for what's likely to happen.

This includes taking into account what your counterpart wants as well.

If you only focus on what you want, you won’t be properly prepared. This can put you in a tough situation.

Instead, prepare by deciding what you want and what you want to avoid, and then consider what your counterpart wants and what they want to avoid.

This can better set up the negotiation process.

#4: Know That Both Parties Have Something To Offer

What you want is in the other party’s power to give you, and what they want is within your power to give them.

Pretty cool concept, right?

If you think about it, this is why you're even having the negotiation.

Now, the real skill of negotiation is determining where you land your deals in this zone.

#5: Get Clear On Your Objectives

You also need to be crystal clear about your objectives, and you don’t want to confuse your objectives with how you're going to accomplish your objectives.

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#6: Have A Contingency Plan 

You’ll also need to think of contingencies.

For example, what if something doesn’t work or meet their needs?

You’ll need to consider what questions you'll need to ask, and you'll need to think about the other side of the negotiation as well.

Remember, you'll miss the mark if you don’t assess what the other side wants from the negotiation.

#7: Think About What The Other Side Wants Beforehand

You're going to want to prepare for what you believe the other side wants, and this is going to take making some assumptions.

You really have to know your enemy if you want to succeed in your negotiations.

#8: Roleplay With A Friend Or Colleague

One way to prepare for your negotiation is by having a dialogue with a colleague in which they play devil’s advocate.

This will help you:

  • Prepare for what may come up 
  • Identify the information you have 
  • Identify the information you don’t have

Once you get to the table, you can ask your counterpart questions and get an even better idea of what they want without having to start from scratch.

#9: Think Before You Ask For Double Of What You Actually Want

There's an old negotiation tactic that involves asking for twice of what you want in order to meet in the middle. This tactic has become so commonplace that everyone knows about it but continues to do it.

The first thing to consider with this (or any other) tactic is how much power you actually have in the negotiation.

Do you actually have the power to achieve this goal?

You also need to know where the other party’s limit is. While this tactic can work, it may not be the best tactic for every scenario.

#10: Gather Information Beforehand

Negotiation is fundamentally about information.

This includes:

  • The information you have
  • The information they have
  • Understanding what you can get from the other side
  • Understanding what the other side can get from you

You need to prepare and gather information before you even get to the negotiating table. Once you get to the table, you need to be prepared to engage your counterpart and ask questions.

#11: Be Inquisitive & Pay Attention

When you're engaging your counterpart, it’s good to be inquisitive and curious.

Your goal here is to both get more information and validate the information that you already have. You also need to read and analyze your counterpart—which includes their tone, body language and so on.

This is why in-person negotiations are better than phone negotiations.

And both are way better than email negotiations.

While in-person, it's much less likely that you'll misinterpret what your counterpart has said, and you'll be able to communicate more effectively.

#12: Ask Open-Ended Questions

We’ve gone over that asking questions is key to good negotiations, but what’s just as important is the actual questions you are asking.

Certain types of questions will yield certain types of information.

This includes using both closed- and open-ended questions.

On top of that, make sure you're asking plenty of good follow-up questions. When asking follow-up questions, try to make sure that they're open-ended. Be inquisitive with these questions and really listen when they respond.

You want to stop talking and instead let them take the time they need to answer.

#13: Engage In Active Listening

You need to engage in active listening, which includes what you say, what you do with your eyes, your body language and so on.

While you're actively listening and asking questions, you're building rapport, gaining trust and allowing the information to flow freely. Good follow-up questions build trust, and they allow your counterpart to guide themselves through their own journey.

This will help you to get the information that you need.

So, start listening, start asking questions and make sure you ask these questions in the right way.

You don’t want to come off sounding like an interviewer.

With the right questions, you’ll have a much better negotiation.

#14: Make The First Offer

Letting someone else propose first can be risky—especially if you already know what a good deal looks like.

You're actually in a better position if you make the first offer, as this creates an anchor point. When you make the first offer, your counterpoint is forced to react to what is on the table.

Now, if you haven’t done your homework and don’t know the value of what's being negotiated, it's going to be an issue when making a proposal.

There is also no real loss in just telling someone what you want.

If you don’t, you force the other side to guess—and people rarely guess accurately. It serves you much better to just tell your counterpart what you want.

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#15: Keep Your Offers Fair

A big issue that people have during negotiations is that they make an offer one-sided.

Your offers should always be believable and defendable.

If they aren't, this actually ends up hurting your credibility—which in turn negatively impacts the negotiation. 

When you offer unclear or lopsided offers, you end up losing time, money and the relationship with the person that you're negotiating with.

#16: Don't Give "Naked" Responses

No one likes hearing, “no,” during a negotiation, but it's a common phrase.

So, where do you go from there?

Something that you need to consider first and foremost is that your reaction will be unique to the deal. You need to consider what your relationship is with the other party, whether it’s necessary to do business with this specific party and other factors.

Whether you're responding with a “yes” or “no” yourself, you want to “dress” your yesses and nos.

You never want a naked yes or no.

What this means is keeping your yesses and nos conditional. This helps to keep the negotiation moving forward. Before you actually say, “yes,” or “no,” also make sure that you take a step back to review your objectives.

See if you're getting what you want.

Something that's important to consider is that some people use the word, “no,” as a negotiation tactic.

A “no” isn’t always a “no.”

#17: Preserve Your Relationships

The two biggest casualties of negotiations that don’t work out are time and relationships.

These are both precious commodities, and you need to protect them both.

This may mean some creative thinking to turn nos into yesses and to keep the negotiation going in a healthy way.

Now, not every deal is going to be a winner—nor should it be.

Some people try to get a deal at all costs, and this is a silly choice if you have alternatives. Alternatives give you power at the bargaining table, and they give you the ability to say, “no.”

This strength comes from preparation, though.

You need to prepare and shop around before going into a negotiation to understand how easy it will be to walk away.

No matter how the negotiation goes, end the negotiation in a healthy way. You never know if you'll be negotiating with the same people again in the future.

#18: Never Negotiate On ONE Variable

The variable that most people negotiate on is price, and many people think that this is the only variable to negotiate on. In reality, there are a variety of different variables that may affect a negotiation, and price may not always be what wins.

If you're only negotiating on price, you're forced to haggle.

This is the worst form of negotiation, and it can both burn the clock and destroy relationships. To negotiate on something outside of price, consider what other variables may be important to the other party.

Some of these may actually trump price!

#19: Frame Your Offer Around Their Self-Interest

You also need to frame the negotiation in a way that's good for the other party's self-interest. Make your offer in a way that allows them to see how they can benefit from your offer.

This needs to be both emotional and logical.

For instance, Randy gives an example where there was a real estate negotiation that resulted in a bidding war.

Something surprising happened, though-the winner didn’t have the highest bid!

Instead, the winner of the bid saw that the owners had a beautiful flower garden and offered to move the garden to their new home free of charge. This was enough to sway the homeowners.

When both emotions and logic are present, you have a strong formula for a pitch or proposal.

#20: Don't Linger Over The Deal

Once you have a deal and you’ve met both your needs and theirs, you want to close down the negotiation.

Don’t linger over a deal.

If the negotiations don’t work out, that’s okay.

Make sure you preserve the relationship, though, as there may be opportunities in the future. 

#21: If You Get Turned Down, Figure Out Why

You should also take some time to see why a certain negotiation didn’t work out.

You may even be able to speak with the person that turned you down to see why. Just make sure you do so in a way that allows you to preserve the relationship.

#22: Be Prepared To Walk Away

Remember, there will always be new opportunities.

Leaving a negotiation without getting the outcome you were looking for isn’t the end of the world.

Just make sure you don’t leave a negotiation with less than what is fair to you.

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Start Using These Negotiation Tips

I'm very grateful to Randy Kutz for sharing these amazing negotiation tips with me, and I'm happy that I have the opportunity to pass them along to YOU.

Start using these tactics and you'll find that your negotiations improve significantly.

(NOTE: Want to get ALL the tips that Randy shared with us on the go? Check out the entire podcast episode to learn all the powerful negotiation tactics that this former Chief of Staff in congress shared with us.