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“The Women’s Edge supports systematic, sustained progress for women into leadership roles throughout the business community.”

Elizabeth Hailer, CEO

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“The Women’s Edge supports systematic, sustained progress for women into leadership roles throughout the business community.”

Elizabeth Hailer, CEO

Two Businesswomen Meeting Around Table In Modern OfficeNegotiating is a skill that we all use on a daily basis, even if we don’t realize it. While some women need to master the art of negotiating for their careers, others find themselves utilizing this skill in their relationships with spouses, family members, kids, and friends. But whether in business or our day-to-day lives, negotiating can be a difficult task, especially for those who may not be naturally assertive.

To help you master the art of negotiating, take a look at these five important steps that experts Angela Polania and Erika Twani shared with us during this month’s “Just Ask TCI” virtual program.

1. Be Prepared

As with most things in life, being prepared for your negotiation is one of the most important steps. Before meeting with the other party, you need to clearly understand what it is that you want to get out of the negotiation yourself, as well as what the other person wants to achieve. Knowing as much as possible about the core values and needs of the other party can make a huge difference when entering into a negotiation.

Erikia Twani, CEO and founding partner of Learning One to One suggests making a list of “gives and gets” before your meeting. Ask yourself, “What can I give? “What can I expect back?” and “What can I provide to my customer that will make them happy?”

“Being prepared is very, very important,” says Twani. “If plan A is unacceptable to the other party, you need to have plans B, C, and D already in mind to make you feel comfortable.”

2. Have a “Bird’s-Eye View” of the Situation

Part of being prepared for your negotiation is to have a “bird’s-eye view” or “360-degree view” of the entire situation before you start. Remember that negotiating isn’t just about getting what you want—it’s also about knowing what you have to offer the other party to meet his or her needs.

In a tough situation where your customer is suggesting an offer that you simply can’t accept, for instance, your bird’s-eye view can help you suggest an alternative solution that makes you both happy and adds value to the deal for the other party without sacrificing your bottom line.

Twani shared an example of a negotiation she had with a school that was working on a very tight budget. Although Twani knew that she couldn’t budge on the price, she was able to add value to the deal by offering more students for the same price, and the school happily accepted.

3. Know Your Weaknesses

The scariest part of entering into any negotiation is worrying that the other party will be able to use your weak spots against you. Although getting rid of your weaknesses altogether is, of course, impossible since no one is perfect, you can make yourself more aware of where your weak spots are and better prepare yourself to counter tough questions.

Prior to your negotiation, think about what could go wrong and develop solid answers or responses to those situations so you can remain comfortable and confident, despite any perceived weaknesses.

4. Approach All Negotiations with Confidence and Assertiveness

While being naturally assertive and self-assured can certainly give you an advantage in negotiations, it is possible to develop these traits and even “fake them until you make them” to give yourself an edge.

Angela Polania, Managing Principal of IT and Cyber Security Solutions Provider Elevate, explains that “even if you don’t have the right answer or don’t know all the variables, it’s okay to say, ‘Let me get back to you,’ as long as you do so in an assertive, confident way. If you give a tentative vibe, that’s not good for your negotiation.”

Confidence and assertiveness also comes into play when dealing with difficult customers who seem to never be happy, no matter what you offer them. In this case, approaching the situation with confidence is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, the other party may feel that they can take advantage of you little by little.

“When dealing with a difficult customer,” Polania says, “you can try to remedy the situation and come up with a solution, but sometimes, you need to be ready to say no and walk away. It’s like a breakup—if you’re being mistreated, get out of the relationship. You need to know where your bottom line is, with your integrity, patience, and with your life.”

5. Establish a Friendly Rapport

At the end of the day, people want to work with people they like and to whom they can relate. Even in a business setting, negotiations don’t have to be stark and cold. You can open up your discussion with a few personal questions like, “How was your weekend?” or, if you know a little about this person already, “What’s new with your family?” Take a general interest in this person’s life and try to genuinely get to know them.

“If you can connect in this way,” says Polania, “the negotiation becomes more like a friend-to-friend discussion where everyone wins.”

Bottom Line

With some preparation and practice, negotiations don’t have to be a daunting task, and both parties can leave feeling satisfied with the end result.

Remember that the “Just Ask TCI” virtual series is open to the public, so anyone can join in on the discussion and contribute to TCI’s mission to share our experiences and support other women in technology and business.

Next month’s session will focus on creativity and innovation, and we’ll hear from our experts Ania Rodriguez, Gerby Marks, and Maria Hernandez. We hope to see you there!