For my fourth project, I again went with the evening’s theme to prepare my speech, this week being The Art of Negotiation. I was happy to win, but even happier to hear that the Ah-Counter had zero items to report on me!
Good evening fellow Toastmasters and guests. The theme for tonight is The Art of Negotiation and it is just that… an art. One of those skills that is learned from early childhood. “If you let me stay up for 5 more minutes, Aunty, I promise I will go right to sleep and you won’t have to read me any stories… well, maybe one story…..” How many times have I heard that one? Or the more somber, “if you bring my grandmother safely through this surgery, God, I promise I will go back to church.” From the mundane of postponing a bedtime to the praying to a divine being for a miracle that a loved one pulls through, every day you are negotiating. One does not even need another person in order to negotiate. When I reach that weight loss goal, I will get to use my new purse. I have been within 2-3 pounds for a month now. That purse has been on the hall tree for me to see every time I walk by. It is mine. I found it, I paid for it… Technically, I can use it anytime I want. However, I made a goal that I would not use it until I hit the 50 pound mark. One could call that a negotiation between my mind and my body and I am not going to break that agreement no matter how badly I want to use that purse right now.
Negotiations skills vary from person to person, industry to industry, and culture to culture. Some people live for the thrill of negotiating, others just want a set price and are happy without any fuss. Entire phenomenons have grown from industries known for their negotiations. Who here has seen “Pawn Stars” or “American Pickers”? They are reality shows about series of negotiations with some small talk thrown in for a little education and/or comic relief. What about different cultures? Yousef said last week, the Iranians love to negotiate, but the Indians beat them every time. Some of the biggest negotiations I have ever been involved with have been on trips to the Mexican border cities of Nogales and Tijuana. Some of the vendors there are very determined. One followed me down the street after all I did was glance at an item in his store. He was giving me lower and lower prices, but I was not interested. He said, “What’s the matter, you no speak English?” With a puzzled look, I asked “Parlez-vous français?” or “Do you speak French?” He looked at me for a moment, then turned and went back to his store. Now before you get too impressed with my French, all I know is “Parlez-vous français” and “Merci.”
Online, there are tons of websites with negotiation tactics for dealing with everything from cars and hotels to contracts and salaries. Tonight, I am going to bring you some tips for negotiating in 2013 by Ed Brodow, author of Negotiation Boot Camp. Due to the length of time I have available, I am only going to touch on a few of them, but you can find all 10 at his website.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Everything is negotiable and do not take no for an answer. However, know the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. You are assertive when you take care of your own interests while maintaining respect for the interests of others. When you see to your own interests with a lack of regard for other people’s interests, you are aggressive.
- Shut up and listen. Follow the 70/30 Rule – listen 70 percent of the time, and talk only 30 percent of the time. Encourage the other negotiator to talk by asking lots of probing, open-ended questions.
- Do your homework. What are their needs? What pressures do they feel? What options do they have? Doing your homework is vital to a successful negotiation. You can’t make accurate decisions without understanding the other side’s situation.
- Don’t be in a hurry. As I stated above, negotiations change from culture to culture. Brodow thinks being patient is very difficult for Americans and Europeans as we just want to get it over with. People in Asia, South America, or the Middle East look at time differently than we do. Whoever is more flexible about time has the advantage. Your patience can be devastating to the other negotiator if they are in a hurry because they start to believe that you are not under pressure to conclude the deal and they offer concessions as a means of providing you with an incentive to say yes.
- Aim high and expect the best outcome. Successful negotiators are optimists. If you expect more, you’ll get more. Sellers should ask for more than they expect to receive, and buyers should offer less than they are prepared to pay. Your optimism will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, if you have low expectations, you will probably wind up with a less satisfying outcome.
I hope you been inspired to brush up on your negotiation tactics. Remember to (1) be assertive, not aggressive, (2) follow the 70/30 rule, (3) do your homework, (4) take your time, and (5) aim high. I leave you tonight with these parting words from Henry Boyle, “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.” Merci beaucoup and bonsair, fellow Toastmasters and guests.