Strengthen your bargaining power with these underappreciated negotiation techniques. Maybe you have a good understanding of the basic negotiation strategies, but if you want to be an excellent negotiator you’re going to have to take it to the next level. Take a look at the following underused but highly effective negotiation techniques and topics, as described by Katie Shonk from Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation staff.
- Reframe anxiety as excitement.
It is common for people to become stressed while preparing for a negotiation. No matter how experienced you are, nerves can hinder your negotiation power and cause you to make poor decisions, according to Harvard Business School professor, Alison Wood Brooks. Since it’s not always easy to relax under these circumstances, it can be useful to redirect all of these emotions instead of trying to get rid of them. Brooks has found through her research that when you try to think of this high level of arousal as excitement rather than anxiety, your performance in negotiations can improve greatly.
- Anchor the discussion with a draft agreement.
There is a lot of research that shows that the person who makes the first offer in a negotiation will likely tilt the discussion in their favor. Depending on the situation you can even consider arriving at your negotiation with a draft agreement or standard-form contract, prepared with your team and legal counsel. This technique can also save both sides time and money.
- Draw on the power of silence
People tend to feel uncomfortable with silence, especially during negotiations. Instead of quickly killing the silence, Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School professor, Guhan Subramanian, suggests that you should embrace some silent moments in a negotiation because it can be a useful time to allow the information to sink in. Silence is always more effective than excessive protest in the case that your counterpart makes a shocking proposal.
- Ask for advice. Professional negotiators often assume that asking the other party for advice will convey weakness, inexperience, or both.
A study conducted by Brooks, Wharton School professor, Maurice Schweitzer, and Harvard Business School professor, Francesca Gino, found that participants rated partners who asked them for advice to be more competent than partners who didn’t ask for advice. The researchers also discovered that advisers appreciate when we ask for advice because it gives them a sense of self-confidence. Don’t be afraid to ask your counterpart for advice, it could end up being mutually beneficial.
- Put a fair offer to the test with final-offer arbitration
If you are stuck in a frustrating situation where your counterpart seems to be incapable of making a reasonable offer, you may want to consider final-offer arbitration (FOA). In FOA, each side proposes their best and final offer to an arbitrator. The arbitrator has to choose one of the two offers and nothing in between, which encourages both parties to try to impress the arbitrator with a reasonable offer. This underutilized tool can be very useful in especially adversarial negotiations.