Negotiation Lessons From Business Moguls

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Negotiation Lessons From Business Moguls | We’ve all gained exposure to negotiation at a young age in one way or another. From bargaining with siblings, to asking for an extension for a homework assignment, life brings opportunities for negotiation in our professional and personal lives. 

But at what point do we learn to master the art of negotiation? While we commonly aren’t taught negotiation tactics in school or at work, there are methods for learning and practicing on your own. All you’ll need is a willingness to learn and a few tips from experts. Who are the experts in negotiation you might ask? Just look to the business tycoons who have negotiated their way to the top! To help you get started, we’ve rounded up hacks from CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of some of the largest companies in the world, who have tested and tried their negotiation skills to prove successful. 

Before jumping in, let’s discuss the many benefits there are to improving your negotiation skills.

The Benefits of Learning How to Negotiate

There are many benefits to learning how to negotiate. For starters, outcomes will work better in your favor, meaning higher monetary value or outcomes will be achieved. Also, you will achieve more respect and others will instill more confidence in you. You will find yourself taking on more leadership roles and feeling more cool under pressure. Having good negotiation skills also helps build relationships because the aim for successful negotiation is to foster goodwill despite differences in interests. You’ll see your network and networth begin to increase. 

Influence rarely comes easily, but when harnessed, it can have a major payout. Consider the following lessons below to learn how to negotiate like a pro. 

Prepare Your Strategy 

Planning your negotiation strategy is critical to a successful outcome. When you’re prepared, you’re able to state your case more clearly and, most importantly, know when to walk away. Steve Gates, author of The Negotiation Book, writes that “90% of successful outcomes of any negotiation comes from planning” so be sure to do the hard work upfront. 

When in preparation mode, it’s also important to collect as much information upfront to build your arguments. Michele Romanow, tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Clearbanc, shared the importance of preparing your negotiation when she wrote, “Collect data, create arguments, and fiercely defend your position.”

Set Wish, Want and Walk Away Values 

Determining when you’ll walk away should happen far before you even approach the negotiation table. This can be done by setting wish, want and walk away values. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, reinforced this idea when she said “The challenge is looking around the corner and making the change before it’s too late.”

Uncover Underlying Motives 

Use calibrated questions to uncover underlying fears, motives and goals of the person you are negotiating with. Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the other person’s feelings to best address their concerns. He famously said, “If you show people the problems and you show the solutions, they will be moved to act.”

Find Your North Star

Focus on what the main goal of your negotiation is and don’t be swayed by distractions. Elon Musk is a great example of this lesson as he follows the “north star” model by finding a higher purpose to align his goals with. He’s famously said, “The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”

Be Honest and Vulnerable  

Negotiation doesn’t come without empathy. The key to a successful conversation is not tricking your opponent, but understanding their feelings, motivations and intentions. Marc Randolph, CEO of Netflix, discusses his views on this when he recommends being honest and authentic with whoever he is negotiating with. He says to “Reveal what you want in your voice, words and body to let people know that this is not “B.S.,”  but that you believe in what you are asking for.”

Have we intrigued you with the previous negotiation lessons? For even more inspiration, explore Zolo’s visual guide below for more expert tips around learning how to negotiate.

How to negotiate infographic