Can Leveraging Your ‘Nice’ be a Negotiation Strategy?

Negotiating can be intimidating whether you are negotiating your first salary or you are a small business owner negotiating a new contract. Developing a negotiation strategy in advance increases positive outcomes. Knowing your audience and knowing what you want will have a positive influence.

Having a negotiation strategy doesn’t make you a snake

Personality type has little to do with the success of a negotiation. As a result, an introvert with a used car dealer negotiation strategy will succeed far better than an extrovert with no plan.

People from the Midwest have a reputation for being nice. Other parts of the country are known for their competitive personality type. Some might suggest Midwesterners suffer in the negotiation because they are too accommodating.

  • Can a nice person be taken advantage of? Yes.
  • Can they be successful in negotiations? Definitely.
  • Does the nice guy struggle in the negotiation? Yes, but only in the same way the bully struggles in a negotiation.

The real negotiation issue is a failure to plan

The nice gal has a choice. She can be the vulnerable underdog or leverage the perception she is a pushover. She can use it as part of her negotiation strategy. The person with the most information in the negotiation has the most power. Therefore, when you come prepared with a negotiation strategy and you follow a process you can guarantee a successful negotiation regardless of your personality type.

If you tend to be to be accommodating your best defense is to start with a plan 

Target goal–identify your target goal and write it down. Certainly determine ahead of time when will you walk away. Share the strategy with your negotiation coach, negotiation buddy, or someone that understands your commitment to sticking to the plan. Make a promise to check in with them before you make a concession and before you accept an offer.

Assumptions –  write them down and test them. You have to make assumptions. Just remember some of them are wrong. Figure out which ones are real. Ask questions, dig around for information. Test your assumptions.

Alternatives – write them down. List all the alternatives you have if you don’t come to an agreement.  Remember there is always an alternative to do nothing. Never agree to a deal that is worse than one of your alternatives.

Repeat the process – follow the same steps for your counterpart and write them down. What is their target goal? What assumptions are they making? What are their alternatives? What are their constraints? Who is really making the decision?

Leverage your midwestern style for your next negotiation

If you have an easy-going personality type, the bully negotiator will mistakenly assume you will be easy to intimidate. Don’t be worried if she is thinking, “This could be an easy pushover.”  Leverage her assumption.  Come to the table prepared with a negotiation strategy. Be the most prepared party at the table. Preparation beats bully every time.

Underestimating the Underdog in a Negotiation

Big and small football players demonstrate an Underdog in a Negotiation

It’s that time of year for college championship football games. Are you the one cheering for the underdog?

Have you ever felt like the underdog in a negotiation? It’s the playoff game and your opponent has the home team advantage. The sun is in your eyes. The referee has it in for you.

Negotiations are often viewed as a win-lose game. The more you take the less I get. Sound familiar?  Think about how you approach any negotiation.

  • How would your life be different if you were a more effective negotiator?
  • How would your business be more profitable if you negotiated like a professional?
  • Have you ever wondered how the professional buyer approaches a negotiation?

Whether You’re the Underdog in a Negotiation – or Not – Use These 3 Tips for Success

The first step to success in any negotiation is being aware of your counterpart’s view. For the inexperienced negotiator, it’s natural to default to a one-sided view. Your personal view.

Here are three tips to improving the outcome by looking at the negotiation from 2 views

  1. Be more curious – look at the negotiation from your counterpart’s view and be curious about their strategy, alternatives and target goal. Think about what a great deal looks like from their perspective
  2. Ask questions–and then be quiet! Count to ten. Bite your lip if you have to. Just be quiet. We are naturally uncomfortable with silence. Someone will fill the void with information. Let your counterpart talk.
  3. Know your alternatives – document and fully understand your alternatives. What happens if you don’t come to an agreement? Never close a deal that is worse than one of your alternatives. It’s surprising how often people get caught up in the emotion and overlook a better alternative.

It’s that time of year for championship games and new year resolutions. Start 2019 with the resolution to negotiate like a professional. Be curious, ask clarifying questions and then just listen. Make sure you know your alternatives and never agree to a deal that is worth less than one of your alternatives.  If you follow these negotiation tips, even if you were considered the underdog in a negotiation you will come out heads and tails ahead.

Should I negotiate the job offer?

You have an offer. It’s your dream job. Would you dare negotiate for more than the first offer? Is there a voice in you head saying “don’t be a fool, what if they retract the offer?”Challenge that voice. That is the voice of “assumptions”.

Think about past assumptions. Do you remember when you were convinced you were at the height of fashion? Which one was it for you? The bell-bottoms, platform shoes or miniskirts . You thought you were smashing. Now you look at the photograph and laugh, cringe or cry a little. Those cringeworthy moments should teach you something.  The next time you are certain about something stop to reflect on past assumptions. This same strategy applies to assumptions you make in a negotiation. . Consider the example of the job offer.

Your have just been offered your dream job. If you don’t accept the offer as given they could withdraw it. Is this an assumption you should challenge? Think about the time and effort put into setting up the rounds of interviews and getting the management team to agree on the ideal candidate.  Do you believe asking a couple questions will cause the withdrawal of the offer? How would that conversation go?

“I am excited to let you know the management team has come to a decision and are ready to offer you the position at $60,000 annually, with benefits and 2 weeks annual vacation pay.”

“Thank you! I am so happy to hear from you. I am excited to use by background in social media to address the marketing challenges and the 401K Matching is great! There are a couple questions I have about the offer.”

“Questions? Certainly not!  Do you want the job or not!

Does this sound a bit ridiculous? Of course it does. Yet that is what happens when you make assumptions. It is helpful to remember the answer is ‘NO”  if you don’t ask. Here are some helpful negotiation tips:

  • Be prepared – Identify your market value
  • Identify compensation goals and your walk away point -write them down
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – be gracious and be prepared with questions when the offer is made
  • Remember – The answer is NO if you don’t ask

Do you believe asking clarifying questions would be grounds to withdraw an offer? Of course not. It is possible, however that  if you don’t negotiate the hiring manager may question their decision to hire you.

Don’t Underestimate Your Position

One of the most common mistakes in a negotiation is underestimating your position. Giving away power. The best way to avoid underestimating your position is preparation. Gather as much information as you can about your counterpart. Sit with someone in a mock negotiation.   Take the position of your counterpart. Understand the constraints, wants, needs, must have points from the position of your counterpart. Bridge of Spies photo

A recent Tom Hanks movie “Bridge of Spies” gives a perfect demonstration of the benefit of  understanding your counterpart’s position. Right up to the last minute exchange of spies  – Mr Donovan [Tom Hanks] holds strong to his position. He delays the exchange. Clearly he understood the constraints, wants and must have position of his counter part. This movie also gives a perfect demonstration of the power of silence.

It’s a good movie. A reminder “don’t underestimate your position”.


He who speaks first loses

Linda Byars recently posted this article in her newsletter.  A great recap on using the power of silence as a negotiation tactic.

“Some people use a “he who speaks first loses” philosophy as a negotiation tactic. They hope silence will make the other party feel uncomfortable and continue talking, possibly revealing unfavorable information. The tactic can work. However, once people discover you are waiting for them to slip up, they become guarded and stop all communications.

Instead, use this more positive approach to silence in your negotiation:

power of silence

• Ask open-ended questions instead of making statements. By asking a question you require the other person to formulate an answer and respond to you.  Ask questions to have others clarify their position. Then, listen patiently without helping them finish their sentences. Probe with more questions to separate issues from emotions.
• Practice. Try this today. The next time you have a lull in the conversation with a friend, try to remain silent. Allow him/her to think or take a pause for a moment. Practicing silence is difficult! Once you are comfortable with quiet, you start listening for words which aren’t spoken.
• Know what you want and what you think the other person might want. Before going into a negotiation, be clear on what a “win” is for you. Once you’ve achieved your objective – BE QUIET!  A natural response after a successful negotiation is to let off steam and/or create small talk. Don’t do it. Instead, politely part company, leave the room, or end the phone conversation.

A recognized authority on negotiations, workplace issues and strategic communication, Linda Byars Swindling, JD, CSP is an author, a “recovering” employment attorney, and a Certified Speaking Professional. To book Linda to speak at your event contact Zan Jones by email or phone at (214) 536-6666.”