Today, I attended a conference held by The Inspiration Lab. It was a fantastic conference, and one speaker, in particular, captured my attention. Nicole Homes from GE Power presented on the topic of negotiation.
It got me thinking about how much I avoid negotiation in my life. I have consciously overpaid on everything from cars to jewelry to a house because I didn’t want to come across as cheap. As I was listening to Ms. Holmes speak, I realized I need to do better.
If, like me, you would rather pay sticker price than negotiate, this article is for you.
Five Tips To Negotiating*
1) It Starts Before It Even Begins
Know what you’re negotiating on. It doesn’t have to be just about money. For example, if you’re negotiating your salary for a new job, consider other points such as lower insurance premiums, more vacation time, increased 401(k) match, or flexible hours.
Having more than one factor to bend and flex on gives you more power. As an example, while you may not get the extra $10,000 per year you were looking for, you may receive $12,000 in compensation through an increased 401(k) match.
2) Know Your Walking Point
Negotiations can go sour. And the merchant or employer you’re negotiating with may not have the financial bandwidth to meet you at your level. Know the point at which you’re willing to say, “no more” and walk away with nothing.
It’s critical to know this before going into your negotiations. Otherwise, you may find yourself negotiating with your heart and not your brain. Which takes me to tip #3.
3) Keep Your Emotions Out of It
Don’t become attached to the object you are negotiating over. If you can’t picture your life without living in the house, or without driving the car, the negotiation is over before it’s even started.
Before walking into negotiations, be aware of your emotions. Be willing to walk away if those basic requests aren’t met, or you’ve reached the point set in tip two above. You may need to bring in reinforcements if you are concerned you may not be able to walk away. My husband doesn’t let me go alone to even look at cars unless he’s present for this very reason.
4) Be Comfortable With Silence
My senior year of college, I interviewed with a public accounting firm. The interviewer asked me a question, and I answered it. Then he was silent for what felt like an eternity. Ultimately, I got the job. Afterward, he became a mentor of mine and explained the power of silence in interviewing. It was one of his strategies to test how candidates would behave during stressful discussions with clients.
Turns out it’s a powerful strategy for negotiations. Don’t give away your secrets by talking too much. Keep some power by letting the other party feel uncomfortable during periods of awkward silence. You may find they cave to your requests.
5) You Don’t Always Have to Negotiate
If you want something and you know it’s going to add value to your life commiserate with the price you’re being asked to pay, go ahead and pay it. It’s not always worth negotiating.
Share some of your best negotiating stories with us in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
*Note – I give credit to Ms. Holmes for these tips. It was a compelling presentation, and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to listen to it. I’m ready to go buy a car now!