5 Rules for Negotiating Like a Pro

Negotiating like a pro can be a challenge, but there are ways to create win-win results.  By understanding the pitfalls and what to avoid, the five easy rules below can help resolve disputes and negotiate like a pro.

Keep in mind that all is takes is focusing on the goal, keep your emotions at bay, and look forward, not back.


5 Rules for Negotiating Like a Pro


Rule 1. – Build Rapport and Relationships First.

Focus on the goal and building rapport. Don’t be distracted by your emotions.

It is important to check your emotions at the door before trying to negotiate anything. Emotions, such as anger or nervousness, can make you lose control.  It is key to avoid overreacting, stay calm, rational and professional.  While you can’t control the other person’s behavior, remember, you can control how you respond to their behavior. This will have a direct effect on whether the situation escalates or defuses, and help lay the foundation for a great relationship.

If you are the one who is angry and upset, negotiating like a pro requires you to focus on what you hope to accomplish.  Simply tell yourself that nothing is going to stand in the way of that goal. It doesn’t matter whether you like the other side is saying or suggesting. Some parties are rude, obnoxious, inflexible, and insulting. Try to use your energy to  focus on resolving the dispute, and coming to a place of agreement.

5 Rules for Negotiating Like a Pro

Rule 2. – Match and Mirror.

Matching is doing something the other person is doing, but in reverse order.  For example, if a seated client uncrosses his legs and leans slightly inward while speaking, you should wait for a few seconds and then discretely adopt the same posture.  Mirroring is being a mirror image of someone.  For example, if the other person points to a part of your presentation with their right hand, then you should also point to the part of the presentation with your left hand.  You can also mirror their tone, body language, speed of voice or even the word choice.

When mirroring and matching is done correctly, it can be extremely effective in establishing rapport quickly, especially if you mirror and match the most unconscious elements of a person’s behavior during communication.


Rule 3. – Prepare in Advance.

Negotiating like a pro requires your to be prepared and do your research. Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish, you must do your research and preparation to ensure your conversation is collaborative and skillful. That could be as simple as listing your arguments on a sheet of paper, or as complex as doing the research to overcome price increases. Either way, it is important you understand who you are speaking with, and know just about every answer without hesitation.

Otherwise, you might make a concession or agreement that you will later regret.  Bargaining to compromise can be a sign that you weren’t prepared. You need to be confident about the rationale behind your requests and objections.  Nothing is more embarrassing than making a presentation and having someone question the accuracy of your numbers.  Or worse, having the whole presentation fall apart because the data is confusing or incorrect. If you are not completely prepared, consider delaying the the negotiation. If you go in with little or no information, and try to wing it, you will regret it later.

Rule 4. – Own Your Power.

By owning your own power, you act from your heart.  This is when power becomes positive, useful, and gets people to respond favorably.

When you don’t own or connect with your power, we often experience fear and manipulation.  This makes negotiating like a pro next to impossible. There is nothing transformative about fear or manipulation.  True power is transformative. It comes from a deep, strong and peaceful place within yourself.  It reveals that you are aware, confident, and in a place where you are taking charge of your business, your life, and your power.


Rule 5. – Negotiating is OK.

The truth is, everyone has the opportunity to negotiate on nearly everything. Just because there is a price tag on something doesn’t mean the price is final. It really comes down to how you bargain for the product or service you desire.

People assume they need to make a choice between getting good results (by being hard and bargaining at all costs) or developing a good relationship (by being soft and making concessions to build the relationship). Thinking that way is dangerous, however, because you need both.  You have to be able to stand firm and maintain important relationships.

To negotiate more effectively, you need to shift your approach away from this combative and compromising approach and toward a more collaborative one.  This shift leads to an approach where two parties come together to jointly solve a problem — decide on a contract, create the parameters of a new job, or delineate the conditions of a partnership. Together they dig to fully understand each other’s underlying interests, invent options that will meet everyone’s core interests (including those of people not even in the room), discuss rational precedent, and use external standards to evaluate the possibilities — all while actively managing communications and building a working relationship.

In conclusion, this is why building rapport, matching and mirroring, preparation, and owning your power will make negotating like a pro easy.  This set of skills requires real discipline, and with practice, you’ll shape the negotiation and get the results you seek.  Often much better outcome than you ever expected.