Negotiating can be tricky to do, and even trickier to learn. The main reason? So often, we do not consider it polite to assess and discuss our own needs. The result is that we often give in to the wishes or demands of others without considering what we might want or require. The ensuing frustration is not healthy for anyone, and can often lead to behavior that one might regret.
Of course, an infinite number of scenarios and strategies exists, but when it comes to the etiquette of negotiating, four steps will always serve you well. Remember that you can be polite, glamorous, and impeccably mannered, and still be a successful negotiator.
Understanding what you want or need from a situation is the foundation of a successful negotiation. Know your bottom line, know your wish list, and know at what point you are willing to walk away. You may be casually discussing where to make a dinner reservation with your spouse, or you may be negotiating the contract for a major renovation to your home. Either way, understanding what you want out of the experience, whether it be a romantic dinner or a polished new kitchen, will only assist you in your discussions.
A bit of cheer is not only friendly, it can also be quite disarming. There is simply no reason to start a discussion with anything but a smile and a bit of pleasant conversation. It creates a constructive mood and helps others to feel like they are an important part of the process. To put it simply, you catch more flies with honey, so be sure to smile.
When it comes to etiquette, the most important communication tool is always to listen. Listening does NOT mean that you should give in to whatever the other person requests. Listening simply helps you to understand what the other person wants, allowing you to tailor your position to help them agree with you. Agree with them on one point or provide positive feedback, share your concerns or what you want to change, and then end on a shared goal.
An important element of etiquette is helping all people to feel comfortable. You should not strive to “beat” someone in a negotiation; the best situations are a “win” for all parties. A simple way to achieve this goal is to focus on the result that you want to achieve and not to be so mired in the details that you lose sight of what is most important to you. Manage the situation by keeping perspective of what you hope to achieve and narrowing in on the best path to get there.
With a bit of thought, your calm confidence will shine through and lead you to the best results for everyone. Good luck!
Sarah Carey is The Glamorous Housewife Etiquette Expert. You can read more about her here.