Can you strike a bargain?

Negotiating skills are always at the top of the self-development wish
list.  Try our fun quiz, which also
carries a serious message, to see how you measure up

As in business, life seems to be one long stream of bargaining points, often
stretching the classic British art of compromise to breaking point. So take a
look at the following typical tricky situations which you might face at work or
at home. What would you do? And what do your answers say about your ability to
deal with family, friends and colleagues in resolving potential flashpoints?

Q1 You visit a restaurant with some friends and the meal is poor. Do you:

a Tell the waiter you won’t pay for the meal, or
b Ask for a discount on your bill, or
c Tell the waiter how much you were looking forward to the meal and how
disappointed you have been, then ask for a reduction in the bill?

Q2 You are seeking a significant pay rise based on the last year’s
performance, which you feel is much better than that of your better-paid
colleagues. Do you

a Demand a rise and threaten to resign if you don’t get one, on the grounds
that you are being treated unfairly, or
b Explain to your boss why you think you should get a rise and ask for it, or
c Ask your boss how he views your performance over the past year in comparison
to your colleagues. Then ask if he thinks it is fair that you are paid less?

Q3 Your partner wants to go shopping but you would rather go for a drink.
Do you

a Say you don’t want to go, or
b Suggest they go shopping while you go for a drink, or
c Agree to go shopping and suggest you call in for a drink on the way home?

Q4 You want to buy a new car and are determined to get a good deal. Do
you

a Demand a discount from the salesman, or
b Check the level of discount you can get from a number of suppliers, then
accept the best offer, or
c Explore the different options available, including discount levels with no
trade-in, finance deals, free insurance offers and fitted extras you want as
part of the deal, to get the best all round deal?

Q5 Your child asks for a birthday present, which you think is of poor
value. Do you

a Say you won’t buy it, or
b Explain carefully why you think it’s a poor choice, or
c Check if he is still happy to accept the toy if it means he can’t have any of
the other things he would like?

What your answers say about you

If you answered A to most questions:
You tend to assume that, in most situations, you’ve got the power and that, by
boxing the other person in and putting them under pressure, they will roll
over. You may, however get a rude awakening as they may see the balance quite
differently. Consequently, the potential for conflict is high.

If you answered B to most questions: Your approach is less
reliant on power and is more likely to generate a positive response but it relies
heavily on the other party seeing the logic of your argument and, of course,
they may not. Logic is not always persuasive. Putting forward counter proposals
can also result in conflict as they are often regarded as disagreement rather
than as constructive proposals.

If you answered C to most questions: By involving the other
party in exploring the options available and taking on board their point of
view, you are most likely to avoid conflict with this approach. Any discussion
will generally have a better chance of reaching agreement and a solution, which
keeps everyone happy.

HOW TO DO BETTER

Ongoing research from sales and management development company
Huthwaite International shows that skilled negotiators use a combination of
questions to explore the other party’s position and seek proposals from them
rather than just making demands themselves. They are also more likely to talk
about their own thoughts and feelings as a means of influencing both the
climate of discussions and the other party.

Instead of using threats to force through what they want, they
are more likely to explore all the options, which could lead to a more creative
agreement that is good for both parties.

Top 10 tips in negotiation

As a leading sales and management
skills development company, Huthwaite International has nearly 30 years’
experience researching the elements of sales success, through observation,
interviews and questionnaires.  Here are
its top 10 tips for successful negotiation:

1.Don’t just plan what you want to
achieve, rather, plan how you will persuade the other party to agree to it

2.Conduct an analysis of your (and the other party’s) strengths
and weaknesses, then plan how to use your strengths and manage your weaknesses

3. Set both an upper limit and a bottom line for what you want
to achieve on each issue. This will help ensure you don’t push the other party
too far, yet don’t give away more than you can afford to

4. Work out the full cost of any concession before you make it

5. Set a wide range of options for each issue you have to
negotiate to give yourself maximum flexibility;

6. Plan questions to explore the other party’s position in
terms of what they want, why they want it, and to explore possible weaknesses
in their position;

7. Test all agreements very carefully, then summarise them so
there is no doubt about what has been agreed

8. Don’t dilute your arguments by giving too many reasons to
support your position. Find one rock solid reason and stick to it

9. Expect low levels of reaction from the other party and
regularly check how they feel about the negotiation;

10. Don’t make immediate counter offers when they put something
on the table, but explore each proposal with care before responding.

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