New cars, flight upgrades, salary increases and so much more: Negotiation comes into play in almost all aspects of life. Heck, you probably negotiate frequently with your fickle toddler or opinionated teen. Whether at home or work, knowing how to negotiate well is an important skill that’s difficult to master.
There are many strategies when it comes to the time-honored art of negotiation; however, experts have generally advised being friendly is a better approach than being tough. Yet a recent study finds different results, challenging the intuition that’s generally led folks to be warm while at the negotiating table.
The Harvard Business Review highlighted its recent study that compared negotiations using warm and friendly language versus tough and firm language in the environment of negotiating 80% off the asking price of a used smartphone with online sellers.
The study found that while both types of offers had similar numbers of responses with counteroffers, if a discount on price was offered, it was larger with the tough and firm messages. What’s more, the tough and firm messages were less likely to be ignored completely.
“Sellers were more willing to accept the 80% discount offer when it came from a tough buyer (about 13%) than from a friendly buyer (less than 9%). Because the average phone price in our sample was $435, these results imply that the tough and firm requests generated $35 more savings per phone than the warm and friendly requests,” the article notes.
There may be a lesson to pull from this study that could benefit you in professional negotiations. Whether it’s vying for a salary bump or getting the flex schedule you’ve always wanted, being confident and firm might be the winning ticket. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean being a jerk. That will always backfire.
In addition to being firm, there are a few things to keep in mind as you hone your skills as a negotiator:
Ask for what you want clearly and confidently. Being assertive may not come naturally, especially to women, which is one of the reasons pay gap proliferates. When speaking, try using “I” statements more often than “you” statements to help direct your language.
Prepare your reasons and rationalize. If you want something, you need to be able to say why. Try to share how you feel this will benefit you as well as them, so everyone feels like they win in the end. Adopt the mindset that you are trying to solve a problem for both sides.
Take your time and listen. Negotiating isn’t typically something that happens at the speed of light. Be patient and take the time to make your points, then listen and understand the other side. This will help you prepare any counterpoints.
Play the give-and-take game. If you let a point of contingency go, make sure you get something in return. Negotiating is a dance. For example, you may decide to come into the office Fridays as requested, but in return you ask for a salary boost and parking perks.
What are your thoughts on being colder and firmer while negotiating? What strategies work best for you?