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Negotiating With Confidence – July 2011 Master Negotiator

Man standing in front of blue sky, looking confident When you negotiate, confidence is a great attribute to help you achieve a win-win outcome. Dictionary.com defines confidence as the belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities. When you have deep confidence, your counterpart usually recognizes the confidence that you exude, both verbally and nonverbally. The benefits of having high confidence include:

  1. Feeling strong about what you are asking for from your counterpart
  2. Feeling strong that you are right
  3. Having the ability to say “no” to your counterpart if what they are asking for is not reasonable or in your best interests
  4. When you have confidence, it positively impacts the outcome of the negotiation because your counterpart tends to ask for less and give in to your requests more often than if you lacked confidence

So the question becomes, how does one increase the belief in self or in one’s powers and abilities? The following 5 tips will help you to become a more confident negotiator.

  1. Preparation… Preparation… Preparation
    There are some negotiators who prepare on the way to meeting with their counterpart. When it comes to building confidence, this is not a good strategy. The more you prepare, the more you know the details, the facts, the history or the organization or person you are negotiating with, and your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), the more confident you will be when you meet with your counterpart to negotiate.
  2. Develop Options and Alternatives
    If you have multiple options and alternatives to help create a win-win outcome, you will feel more confident in your ability to negotiate. The best negotiations are when both counterparts have multiple options or ways to complete an outcome where both parties consider it to be win-win. One outcome for you may be that if you cannot structure a reasonable deal with this vendor, there are several other vendors that would love to have your business.
  3. Have a Clear, Positive Vision of the Outcome
    A vision is a clear mental picture of the outcome. When you negotiate, you always have a vision that is one of three different outcomes. The first vision is a positive vision. You believe you will achieve a positive outcome and have done the preparation to align with your vision. The second vision a negotiator may have is a vision of the status quo. In this vision, you just want to gain or keep what is rightfully yours but you are not looking to win in the negotiation. The last vision a negotiator may hold is a negative vision. In this vision, the negotiator walks into the negotiation believing they are going to lose before the negotiation even starts. A positive vision is the only vision that will help you build confidence.
  4. Hold Your Counterpart Accountable
    Make sure every deal point you or your counterpart agrees to is measurable and time bound. When you do this well, you can feel more confident that what was agreed upon will happen. When the deal points are not measurable and time bound, there is a good chance you may still get your reward, but only in heaven.
  5. Trust Your Guts
    Becoming a confident negotiator is part knowledge and part guts. There are times when your counterpart says all the right things. In fact, what your counterpart says may even line up with the knowledge you have gained. But still, there is something about this counterpart you do not like or trust. When you do not like or trust someone, your guts are telling you that something stinks. If you believe your guts may be onto something, you will have the confidence to walk or choose an option you developed in point 2 above.

Confidence can be a great asset to your negotiation. But, too much of it will most likely do more harm than good. Next month we will cover the impact of how overconfidence can hinder your negotiations.

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