How to Negotiate Like a Pro in 6 Steps

We all face situations that require us to negotiate. While looking out for yourself is always important, when it comes to a business negotiation, it’s absolutely essential. The other party is bargaining for a deal that will benefit them the most, and in order to make sure you’re not slighted, you have to go to bat for the terms you want.

Negotiation isn’t a natural talent–it’s something that we learn over time. People that appear to be natural negotiators often pick up on negotiation tactics through nontraditional means–attending auctions, having a parent in small business, or simply by associating with serious bargain hunters and hagglers.

You can borrow some of the tips they’ve learned the hard way and put them into practice next time you face a negotiation. Here’s how to negotiate like a pro in 6 steps!

negotiate1. The first offer is a starting point, not a destination.

Tried and true, this tactic will change your negotiation game and mindset from the ground up. When you think of the first offer as just that–the first offer–you’ll be more confident when you assert that Y is a fine starting point, but you were thinking something more along the lines of X.

2. React honestly to the other party’s offer.

If their offer is insultingly low or offers much less than you expected, you shouldn’t act like you’re honored; let your dissatisfaction show a bit. Flinch, wince, chuckle–whatever you feel about their offer, react honestly (but not rudely). An important part of negotiation is letting the other party believe that you are in control of the outcome–even if it doesn’t really feel like that’s the case.

3. Put more cards on the table.

Reveal some extra information about yourself, your company, or your current needs to turn the tides in your favor. It will humanize you to the other party, and if you’re sharing additional info that will help them make a decision in your negotiation, you only increase your chances of coming out on top. Research shows that including a reason you need something by using the word because increases your chances of getting your request.

4. Know your target price.

The best negotiators know they can’t win every negotiation, and they’re okay with that. You need to set limits on what offers you will accept and what you will walk away from. Adam Galinsky, Northwestern University professor and negotiation expert, calls the amount you’re willing to walk away from your “reservation price,” while the amount you really want is your “target price.”

If the other party can’t meet or (ideally) exceed your reservation price, you’ll know it’s time to walk, and if they meet your target price, you’ll know the offer is good.

5. Always counter.

Counter offers leave both parties feeling more satisfied with the deal in the end, and that may have something to do with the way we all like to feel like we’ve just finished up some really tough negotiating and come out on top.

Don’t be afraid to counter offer–the other party will respect that you know what you need and won’t settle for less. This makes you a more attractive prospect to work with!

6. Silence wins the deal.

Detectives understand this tactic well–state your final case, and then simply shut your mouth. Sometimes the best information comes when you simply let the other party lead the conversation.

By making your final statement (“I appreciate the offer, but we’re going to need at least x amount to move forward.) then going silent, you make it clear that it’s their turn to talk and make a concession.

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