At least for me, it was.
Sure I talked a good game, but when it really came down to negotiation on my own behalf for what I wanted, I possessed a terrible habit of rolling over and letting the other party win. My ears burned hot red at the hint of confrontation. Even though it was "just business," negotiation always felt personal. I didn't want to anger anyone and I believed pushing back meant I'd ruin the relationship.
But you can't go through life, letting people take advantage of you. Especially when you run your own business. As business owner and consultant, I knew I needed new tools to help me deal with the uncomfortable scenarios all business owners eventually face:
What to do when a client is late on payments?
What to do when a client wants to change the terms of the contract?
How to ask for better terms from vendors?
Things are going well in a conversation with a potential client — until you start talking about your fee. What do you next do to seal the deal when things are feeling tense? What to do when a client won't take the suggestions you know they need to be successful?
I've learned from running my own business that negotiation is an essential skill I needed in order to survive. So, I devoured everything I could on the subject (even the out-of-print, hard to find books) and started practicing on low-stakes events.
My first real win had nothing to do with business, but it was great practice.
It came when it was time to order my daughter's birth certificate. I called the government office and they told me to send in cash (!) with a pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelope. Once received, they'd send me a copy. I followed the directions to the letter.
3 weeks, no certificate.
So I called again. The woman told me they received my request and sent it out already. When I told her I hadn't received it, she said my only option was to re-send the money and try again. I hung up the phone and instantly realised: I could get angry, I could roll over and send the money, or I could negotiate. I decided to do some prep work, call her back and negotiate. In the end, she sent me a new certificate free of charge, (happily I might add).
After that small win, I was hooked and reached for higher stakes. I raised my consulting fees, negotiated with vendors (saving myself over thousands in just three months), and started landing new clients reaching out to cold contacts using my new found negotiation skills.
This is the exact 5 step blueprint I use now before entering into any negotiation — without being aggressive or rude.
Follow these five steps and you'll be able to negotiate better and still be "nice."
Jill Beirne Davi is a personal and business finance coach.
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