Five ways to negotiate your way through life

cat and babyIt’s pretty likely you negotiate something every day.

It may be a discussion with your partner as to who’s cooking dinner or picking up the children from school.  In a work context, it could be a discussion with your boss about a pay rise, or having some time off work.

When a negotiation doesn’t go well for you the impact can be huge.  For example, if you are buying a house and you aren’t able to negotiate a good price, you’ll end up paying much more than the house is worth.

Similarly, if you don’t have the confidence to state what you want during a negotiation you’ll find yourself agreeing to things you don’t want to do.

Neither situation makes for a happy and fulfilled life. Want to get better at negotiating?  Here’s five ways to negotiate your way through life:

1. Know your mindset

Negotiating is mentally taxing. Your mind will be pushed and pulled in many directions. Strive to understand the mindset you are adopting, and how you are likely to think, feel and react throughout the process.

If you go in with the perspective – “I’m right. They’re wrong”, and are not willing to find common ground, you’re unlikely to make much progress.

It is much more productive to approach the negotiation from a basis of mutual respect and a willingness to consider different ideas and options.

2. Understand the ‘wants’

Know what you want from the negotiation, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.  It can be a case of ‘don’t ask – don’t get’.  So be deliberate about your needs and when you ask.  Timing can be crucial, as a negotiation’s starting position can anchor the remainder of the conversation.

Take the time to understand the options available and how your proposal could satisfy the other person’s needs.  Additionally, be clear on your non-negotiables and what you are willing to give up.

3. Get ready

Think about how the negotiation process will unfold, and the steps required to secure agreement. Consider each of these steps, in advance of the discussion, and be curious as to how they may play out.  Running through possible scenarios and outcomes will enable you to better respond as issues or objections are raised during the discussion.

Importantly, seek to understand the other people involved – their operating style, agenda, needs and what they care about.  The more you understand those involved, the greater insights you’ll have into what they are likely to support or reject.

4. Value relationships

Negotiating effectively is much easier if you have a good relationship with the other people involved. So build your network early and always take the long term view.  You want both parties to the negotiation to walk away from the process with their dignity intact and feeling as though they have done well.  If someone feels ill-treated through a negotiation, even if an agreement has been reached, there will be longer term ramifications.

5. Have resolve

Negotiations often take unexpected turns, and it’s very easy for the situation to escalate.

You want to be able to respond mindfully, rather than reactively.  So, don’t negotiate when you are tired, and if you find your mind racing, focus on breathing, and breathing deeply.  This provides time for your nerves to relax and your heart rate to slow down, making it easier to reflect and respond calmly.

So, it’s time to step up and use these five practices to help you negotiate your way through life.

Remember, change happens. Make it work for you.

Don’t know how to ask for what you want?

Over the last 12 months I’ve been helping people gain the skills and confidence to do just that!  Being able to successfully negotiate is critical for your success. For more information, email:

About the Author

Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’.

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