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Let’s Make A Deal: Keys to Negotiating Well

Mary Rosenbaum | March 24th, 2011

Are you a born negotiator? Not many of us are. Even if you are good at it, how successful are you when you are negotiating for yourself in situations that are critical to you, your business, and your career as opposed to for your company or your clients?

I know as soon as the negotiation affects me personally, arriving at a compromise is not as easy as when I am arranging a new car lease or buying something from a street vendor. In each of those two situations, I can walk away. I will probably never see or deal with that person again. Neither my emotions nor my ego are invested in the results.

What about negotiations that deal with compensation, employment or client contracts, staffing an important project, or being part of a team? These are personal. The results can reflect on our ability to perform well. The results represent how we define ourselves and the value our employers or clients assign to us. How good are you in these and other situations that are more personal?

The definition of negotiation is a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. The best possible result would be an agreement that benefits both parties involved. But have you ever been involved in a negotiation where you felt that your “give up” was greater than the other side? If this sounds familiar, ask yourself:

1. Did I ask for enough? Whether it’s asking for increased compensation, a higher fee, improved benefits, more time, additional help, new title or promotion, sometimes a small voice in your head warns you of overreaching, asking for more than you can get or deserve. If this is the case, you have already lost the negotiation before you sit down at the table. Managing your expectations realistically are necessary, but just make sure that you are not limiting yourself because of fear.

2. Did I have enough information? Did I do enough research on my topic? If it’s compensation or fee structure, did I do my homework on comparables? Did I understand the firm psychology and culture? Information provides you with the bargaining strength you need to ask for what you deserve. It also serves as validation for your ask.

3. Did I know what I really wanted the outcome to be? What did I specifically ask for? You need to define what you are willing to give up. What is absolutely non-negotiable? When you walk into that room know how much you can give up without feeling that you are being taken advantage of.

4. Did I communicate my arguments effectively, did I make a clear case? Did I communicate how the other side can benefit if I prevail? Always try to see it from the other side so you can understand their position and make sure your pitch is designed so that their needs are taken into consideration.

5. Did I handle the objections well? Preparation is key to anticipating what the objections might be so you can come up with the right answers that strengthen your case.

Are there other ways you prepare for these types of negotiations? We would love to hear them.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Your Value Added: It’s A Moving Target

Mary Rosenbaum | March 3rd, 2011

I think we can all agree that your passion about what you do is what gets people into the room. Passion is infectious and makes people want to connect with you – they listen and gravitate to you. But once you have them in the same room, how do you keep them there?

It is all about the value you deliver. And in today’s world, value is a moving target. Things change so quickly. The way you provided your services or did your job a year ago may still work but because of increased competition and greater demand for better/faster/less expensive results it has become necessary to constantly improve upon what you deliver.

In order to differentiate yourself and maintain your usual high level of performance it is important to view your expertise as a work in progress, a target that keeps moving away just as you seem to reach it.

I know the work I delivered 5 years ago, or even a year ago, is vastly different than what I provide for clients today. And hopefully what I deliver today will morph into something even better a year from now. I take classes, read books, articles, blogs, am part of discussions. I do all this so I can learn about and practice new tools, experiment with cutting edge techniques that enhance what I provide clients in a way that takes them to a new level. And as a result, they are constantly challenging me to come up with even better ways of working with them.

I look at coaching as a puzzle. Every time I complete the puzzle, I find different pieces that make the puzzle bigger, better, and more interesting. And you can too.

These are some of the demands I make on myself so that I can keep changing and growing, staying ahead of the curve so my performance stands out from the crowd.

1. Alway curious. Find the student in you and keep him alive. It is easy to be complacent when you reach a certain point in your career. If you are considered an expert or a leader, it is even more important to keep looking for ways to stay on a learning curve as you teach or lead others.

2. Open minded. Valuable insights sometimes come from the most unlikely sources. I know I have made connections to the work I do from the most unexpected places including a stand up routine by Colin Quinn on the evolution of mankind, a session with a “genius” at the Apple help store, and even an interaction with the check-out people at my local Fairway supermarket. Listening fully and being in the moment wherever you are provides you with great opportunities for being open minded.

3. Flexible. There is often more than one way to complete a project or do the work you do – in a world where there are many more experts across so many industries and specialties there is greater demand for customization, not standardization. Flexibility enables you to work with and for different cultures and in different environments, each with their own set of unique requirements.

4. Collaborative and generous. The whole is equal to greater than the sum of its parts. The end product is often better when you can work with others whose expertise dovetails with yours. Sharing the credit for a job done exceptionally well is far better than taking the full credit for work that is mediocre in some areas while outstanding in others. Your unique value really comes through when you spotlight it without burying it in work that does not reflect well.

5. Comfortable with change. As your skill set grows your focus on what you do and how you do it changes. And change can be uncomfortable. Incorporating a new way of thinking or behaving can often feel like being in a rudderless boat adrift in the middle of the sea. Allowing yourself the opportunity to experiment and even fail at times is important in order for real growth to occur.

Are there other ways you keep your eye on the moving target? Let me know and I can add it to my list.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru