The power of ‘if’: secrets to successful negotiation

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Negotiation is often a duty HR professionals dread – but Josh Masters, author of Why Property Why Now and an expert negotiator – shared his secrets to success with HRD magazine.

Create a third person

According to Masters, it’s important for both parties to separate the inevitable problems that arise during negotiation from the person they are dealing with.

“[This] avoids personality clashes and focuses on solutions rather than [leading to either party] becoming defensive or unreasonable,” he explained.

This allows negotiators to divert their energy away from confrontation and focuses their attention on solving issues.

Look for the ‘why’

Determining the reasons behind the other party’s decisions is an invaluable strategy as it gives you the opportunity to create a solution, often in return for what you want.

Avoid getting personal

Playing the blame or reacting negatively will work against you goals, Masters advised.

“Even when something doesn’t go your way, stay calm and be respectful,” he said. “Also, try to avoid thinking the worst of the other party – it will rarely be productive and they could be thinking the same about you.”

Be flexible

Granting flexibility increases the likelihood of the other negotiator giving you what you want.

“If you can decide what you want before you go into the negotiation, as well as the best offer you can make and which terms you can and can’t waver on, you can often give the other party what they want without having to sacrifice your position,” Masters advised.

Use ‘if’

“Never give anything up without asking for something in return,” said Masters. “Using ‘if’ is a good way to handle this.”

He gave some examples, including: “If I give you X, then I would like Y,” and “If you can … then I’d be happy to…”

Use silence

This technique can be valuable when the other party is poised for a favourable outcome.

“By remaining silent, you are left with the power to make the next call,” Masters said. “It can also provide time in difficult negotiations for both sides to cool off.”

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