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Monday, January 14, 2013

Ten tips to negotiate well with your boss and colleagues

 Your colleague is slacking off and increasing your burden at work. Are you angry with yourself for avoiding a showdown with her? Or, say, it is appraisal time and your boss will call you soon to negotiate your bonus and increment. Do you have butterflies in your stomach at the prospect of having to explain your performance and sell yourself? You are not alone.

We all abhor confrontations and dislike having to defend ourselves. For most of us, negotiation seems to be a battle where we lack the skills and attitude necessary to win. It appears so much easier to give up and walk away, but it's time to change this view if you want to enhance your career. Firstly, recognise that negotiation is simply the process of reaching an agreement. Treat the potentially unpleasant chat as another way of seeking a resolution. Then follow the steps listed below to hone your skills.

Before negotiation

1. Kill the deadline

If you have a deadline and the other person doesn't, you will have little or no negotiation power and will end up giving away too much to reach an agreement. Most accords are reached on or after someone's deadline expires. If you have one, don't make it public, but start discussions early. Then work to dilute or push back your deadline beyond the other person's.

2. Know your BATNA

The acronym stands for the Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (a term coined by Roger Fisher and William L Ury in their seminal book on negotiation, Getting to Yes). It refers to your best fallback option if you fail to reach an agreement. If your lazy co-worker refuses to pull her weight, what would you choose: speaking to the team leader or carrying on quietly?

The best option determines your negotiation power. However, you also need to consider the BATNA of the other person. If you're buying a used car, where your planned budget is Rs 3 lakh and the seller's reserve price is Rs 2.5 lakh, the car will sell between these two BATNAs.

3. Care less to negotiate better

The person who cares less about the result tends to reach a better agreement. This is why you may be the worst person to negotiate on your behalf. If you desperately need something, bring a friend along. Where this is not possible, say, while negotiating your salary in a new job, make sure you are holding on to your previous job so that you are not too bothered about the outcome.
 4. Homework cracks exams

When you are meeting your boss for your appraisal and bonus, it pays to have a detailed written record of your achievements through the year, the challenges you faced, the steps that you took and the positive outcomes that you reached. Your homework in any discussion will help you reach a fair deal.

During negotiation

5. Keep emotions at bay

Leave your emotions at the door before entering a conversation. Focus on the ball, that is, the problem, not the player. If the other person makes a personal attack, deflect that energy into solving the problem. If your slacking colleague criticises you needlessly, suggest that at the current juncture it would be worthwhile to solve the immediate challenge first.

6. Ignore all demands

Yes, you heard it right. Ignore every hard stand taken by the other person. Then try to understand the reasons for that stance. Does the demand reflect some unsaid need? Focus on addressing the needs of the other person and your own real needs, and an understanding will soon be within reach.

7. Agree on standards

Before you tackle the issues that you need to work on, agree on external standards or references for conducting the discussion. So, while talking about your salary increment, if both you and your superviser agree on industry standards, obtaining data from the industry will help you reach a good deal. If the other person is reluctant to consider external standards, you first need to come to an understanding on these.

8. Work towards a win-win situation

An agreement that meets the needs of only one person is bound to fail. To reach a sustainable compromise, both the parties must win. This means that the unsaid needs have to be reasonably met, but not necessarily the demands. Focus on finding options that lead to such outcomes. So, your employer might offer a better designation or valuable training in lieu of a heavy bonus this year.

9. Take a break

Do not treat a negotiation like a T20 match, which needs to have an outcome by the end of the day. Envisage it as the second day of a test match. Try and make progress towards an accord in every conversation you have, but if the discussion is not advancing satisfactorily for the day, make a polite excuse and set a fresh time to continue with it.

10. Change the game

There are likely to be some discussions that you find difficult to tackle. Change the game to one that is easier for you. So, if you are dreading the appraisal that is due next month, a good idea would be to have a conversation with your superviser today. In a casual manner, discuss your performance in the previous year and your goals for the future. You would have done your homework, noticed the holes and made your point. Your appraisal next month will not seem like an abhorrent event any longer.
Source : The Economic Times, 14 Jan, 2013

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