Whether you’re asking for a pay-rise, a deadline extension or extra resources for your project – negotiating with your boss can be daunting prospect. In fact, most people find negotiating internally far more challenging than negotiating with suppliers and customers because of the relationship and emotions involved.
So how do you make sure you banish your negotiating nerves, level the playing field and negotiate with confidence when you are next faced with this challenge. As a commercial skills trainer and coach who has helped hundreds of people master the art of negotiation, here are my 4 steps to help you achieve a win-win outcome.
Balance The Playing Field
The biggest danger when negotiating internally is coming to the negotiating table on the back foot because you are worried about ‘rocking’ your relationship boat. You need to avoid adopting a master/servant mind-set to keep the negotiations on a level playing field. Inner confidence is key here, so you need to think of all the positives about the situation, your relationship and your own performance.
Remember, as I regularly tell my clients, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Preparation is just as important in internal negotiations as it is when you’re negotiating a large contract with a customer. Make sure you write down the list of the things you think you and your boss want to achieve and then practise saying your proposal out load – you will be amazed how much this can help eliminate the use of vague or hesitant language. Take the time to think of any potential challenges you may have to deal with. Next plan how you will respond rather than react to them – this will help you to keep your emotions in check and allow you to hone and project a confident style.
Mastering your ambition is essential to success in all negotiations. You need to be consciously ambitious in your preparation, at the start, during your conversation and at the end. You always need to start the negotiations ahead of your ideal to give yourself a proper chance of securing the best outcome. For example, if you definitely need two extra people to deliver a project on time, start by asking for three – this way you are far more likely to secure the two additional resources you require.
Don’t get phased by the no’s during internal negotiations – to be a masterful negotiator you have to be resilient. This is also where your preparation comes in, as it should help you to stay confident and allow you to bring different variables to the table. The more confident you are, the more ambitious you will become and this will ultimately help you deliver better results.
Remember when it comes to negotiation, practice really does make perfect. So try to weave these four steps into your daily routine – whether you are negotiating a new contract with a supplier or debating with your child over what time they should go to bed. By honing your negotiation skills in this way, you will keep raising the bar so that the next time you find yourself siting in front of your boss asking for a promotion or more budget, you’ll have the tools at your fingertips to negotiate the best possible outcome.