How to Negotiate and Win!

Written by Martin Lucas

We negotiate everyday of our lives, pay, workload, taking out the garbage, what movie to watch, life, work, it’s always present. This is true with and without words, you know that moment when you and some random are going for the same train seat, the body language negotiation occurs, and you take or offer the seat, negotiation done, not a word said.

If you want to win more then here are some tips, let’s begin by understanding when the best time is to negotiate. I will use an example of a CEO I was recently advising.

The Situation

The company was ready for growth and the CEO wanted investment to make it happen. This example is not just about investment as it works whether you are looking to negotiate a pay rise, asking someone to invest in your idea, looking to increase role responsibilities. The reason it works on many levels is you have to pick your moment knowing YOU have the power to negotiate.

In the case of the CEO example, once we had run through their plans, the financials and the sales and marketing strategy it became clear that investment was not the need. In actual fact going for investment would have had a negative effect on both the business and the CEO’s mindset. The first tip explains why.

Tip: Awareness of Positive Negative Language

Financial investment works best when you have power at the table, in a business context one of the keys to feeling you have power is the statistical evidence. Stats that shows customers want your product, social media that shows followers aka believers in what you have, a solid example of sales pipeline and marketing planning. Throw it all together and it becomes your power.

Without power what is your negotiation leverage? You don’t have it, so it becomes desperation or even worse for me you give away big chunks of your company to secure less money. Same is true for pay rise or simply obtaining what you want. Timing is key.

If you shoot for investment too early you will project what we call positive negative language and even worse you won’t beware you are doing it. Positive negative language is when your intent is positive but you are actually sending negative messages to the subconscious of the person you are pitching. Stuff like this:

Perhaps you could invest

Maybe you could give me some time

Is there a possibility you can do this

I’m fairly sure I have this right but you will know better

Perhaps, maybes, buts, possibility, sure, fairly - These are all examples of positive negative language. When you use these words it sends messages of desperation to the person hearing them, they don’t know why they reject you, their ‘gut’ says no.

Powering Up

I explained this to the CEO and he agreed to put the investment need on the shelf, here we are three months later and they have demonstrably more customers, can demonstrate growth, marketing strategy and a health pipeline. He now has power at the table.

Imagine how the negotiation can now go:

I have evidence, this stat, this growth, this win, this win, one more win and this strategy to grow more. These are my terms that I am sharing to the other potential investors, what would you like to do?

Boom. Power obtained, if the investor doesn’t want in then the world will not end and the next investor will love it. The minimum the CEO now has? Self belief and the end of positive negative language.

Tip: Self Belief

From a neuroscience point of view, all of our brains operate with millions of decisions and internal negotiations everyday. Most of these decisions we are simply not aware of ourselves as they occur in our unconscious mind (read more about decision making here). Our brain can be our friend and our enemy, it does not judge what is good or bad for us, it just follows the pattern it knows.

Where this matters is with your awareness of self. You may be using positive negative language everyday, dropping seeds of doubt about you to those you interact with. Take back control, just slow down and think before you speak, preparation is key. You know 95% of your working day will be the same, you can prepare your language and messaging for key situation in advance. Some good questions to help you prep:

What do I want them to feel?

How can make sure I believe in what I am saying?

Do I have the power to back up what I want?

Is this the right time?

How can I prove this beyond doubt to them?

Your mind is yours to control, you just need to be aware of how to take your power.