How to Negotiate for Anything

I was thrilled to be to invited to speak at the Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders Conference last week in sunny San Diego.  The local CW television channel found out I was going to be in town and asked me to appear on their morning show to discuss my favorite topic:  Negotiating!  Here’s the footage:

I also learned an important lesson about San Diego cab drivers!

Like the people you are negotiating with, most are ethical. However, a very few want to take you for a “ride.”

In my Passport to Success called Get What You Want: Harness the Power of Positive Influence, Persuasion & Negotiation I say there is magic in just asking for what you want.  When I checked into my hotel in San Diego last week I asked for a nice view and here’s what I got:

Before you negotiate for anything ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. What do I want?

  2. Why do I want it?

  3. Do I want to invest my time and effort to get it?

In your daily journey use these tips for negotiating with people and in different situations.

  • Your spouse or significant other. Opposites do attract. Try to have empathy for someone who thinks differently than you do. Ask how he or she came to the conclusion AND really listen before responding. Also, stay in the present and address the present problem at hand. It is not going to help your case if you discuss behavior that happened years ago.  And remember, with your spouse especially, that crying, yelling or raising your voice will reduce your credibility in the negotiation.

  • Your children. It’s easy and natural to boss our kids around.  The household is typically more of a dictatorship than a democracy and there are definitely reasons to be in control as a parent.  Tame your emotions.  Raising your voice or yelling shows your kids you are not in control. In this case, consider what your kids value and negotiate from there.

  • Your kids’ school teachers. Teachers deal with a lot of parents who think their kids can do no wrong.   It’s important to find what is in the best interest of the child without offending the teacher.  Include the teacher as a problem solver and be open to feedback and suggestions. Sometimes it really is your child who is creating the problem.

  • Your boss. Whether you are asking for a raise, wanting a different project or wishing for a different schedule-make sure you practice, practice, practice. Practice includes understanding the concerns of your boss and knowing what he or she might say. Practice with a friend who reminds you of that boss. And don’t let the initial response throw you. If you’re not successful the first time, there will be another opportunity to ask for what you want.

  • Paying your credit card bill. Pick up the phone today and ask your credit card companies if they can give you a lower rate.  Resist the urge to give a specific amount – just ask what’s the best they can do? Save credit card applications you’re sent as junk mail so that you have actual rates to compare your card to. Ask to change the payment schedule if you have more money at the middle or end of month.

  • Store purchases. Ask if you can get a discount or if there is a special offer at the time. Some stores keep current store coupons behind the counter.  Also, ask if the item you are purchasing is about to go on sale. If so, ask if the store will honor the sale price today.

  • At a hotel, restaurant or movie theater. Be polite. Express your feelings about what went what you want or what went wrong and ask what the venue can do for you.  Give the venue an opportunity to solve your problem the way they see fit. These are service businesses. Their solution may be better than any demand you make!

With everyone in every situation.  Know that the biggest mistake you can make is thinking that there must be a winner and a loser in every negotiation. Understand WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for all parties involved. Know that others are thinking, “What’s in it for me” during an entire negotiation.

And what happens when you run into those occassional folks who are unethical like my crazy taxi cab driver? Well – you get out of the deal as safely and as soon as you can. And do not deal with those people ever again.

What have you negotiated recently?  Post it on my Facebook page.

Journey On!