Your new hire just stormed into your office demanding a raise. Your lease is almost up and the landlord insists on renewal terms you can't possibly meet. Your best client is being audited and the IRS agent assigned to the case makes Scrooge look sweet-tempered.
Negotiating is a part of life. Even if you aren't a born negotiator, here are easy ways to improve your skills in this highly specialized art form.
BRING DOWN THE TEMPERATURE
The leap from candid debate to flaring tempers is short. The worst time to negotiate is when you're angry. When the temperature rises, "take five" to give yourself time to cool down. Or reschedule the discussion for later.
Further, responding calmly when the other party is hot under the collar can give you an important edge. By keeping your emotions in check, you telegraph a position of greater strength and confidence than your opponent.
SURVEY THE PLAYING FIELD
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, the obvious practical solutions don't work. When straightforward-sounding problems turn intractable, look for an emotional agenda lurking behind stated surface issues.
An employee's sudden demand for unnecessary new equipment could stem from job insecurity or competition with co-workers. Excessive anger may be a tell-tale sign of an underlying sense of hurt or powerlessness. Effective negotiation must address core emotional issues as well as the purely practical ones.
LISTEN TO BODY LANGUAGE
Pay attention to the other party's unspoken messages as well as their verbal ones. Maintaining eye contact is a good sign that they're engaged and listening. Arm folding or turning away may indicate resistance to your message.
Body behaviors may provide a clue to the other person's true feelings as well as how honest and forthcoming they are being in the negotiation. Consider how the other person's body language makes you feel. If you're sensing connectedness and candor, the other person probably feels it too.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Come to the table as prepared as possible. Learn as much as you can about not only the issues under discussion, but also about the person with whom you'll be negotiating. Depending on the type of negotiation, spending a little time finding common ground may help you communicate more quickly--and perhaps reach agreement faster. Being prepared with facts and statistics (average square-footage rental rates for comparable properties for a...