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4 Negotiation Hacks for Business Owners Who Hate Negotiating

Does the mere thought of negotiating make you anxious? Try these four hacks.

Does the mere thought of negotiating give you a knot in your stomach?

As a business owner, negotiating and advocating on behalf of your business is part of your everyday life. But maybe so far, it’s your least favorite part. Maybe it makes you feel super anxious, like your stomach is trying to crawl out of your throat.

The good news is that negotiating tends to get more comfortable with practice. Until then, it doesn’t hurt to have some tips along the way. Here are my top negotiating tips for people who hate negotiating:

1. The best deals are win-win

TV glamorizes aggressive negotiators who strong-arm their opponents into accepting “winner takes all” kinds of deals. While this looks good on a movie screen, real life is very different. In real life, the best deals are win-win situations, and the best people to do deals with are people who understand that.

If someone is trying to strong-arm you into a deal where they get a lot and you get almost nothing, that is a red flag. There can be reasons for still accepting these kinds of deals, but the best arrangements are ones that come from a place of mutual respect where both sides bend, but both sides also win.

2. Everything is Negotiable

Sometimes the person you are negotiating with will claim that their company’s form agreements are “non-negotiable”. Here’s the thing: everyone will negotiate under the right circumstances. Also, in a 10+ page contract, chances are that not every word and clause is truly a top priority for them. If you are dealing with a large organization, you may need to ask yourself if your point of contact actually has the power to make the kinds of decisions you are asking them to make. “We don’t negotiate” might just be code for “I don’t want to ask my boss that question”. Generally speaking, even a large company will be willing to consider a reasonable request or accomodation.

3. You have something that they want

If you are feeling intimidated from the get-go, it can be easy to forget why you are there in the first place. If you are negotiating with someone, by definition you have something that they want. It may be your money, your time, your network, your office space, your expertise, your resources, or any myriad of other things. No matter what it is, this means that you have power. You may not always have equal bargaining power, but you do have power because you have something that they want. If that wasn’t true, you wouldn’t be at the table!

4. Research the other side ahead of time

Here’s the thing: people bluff. Some people bluff a little, some people bluff a lot. Being able to call a bluff gets easier when you take the time to find out who you are dealing with. Researching the other side can start with a Google search. Social media accounts, news coverage, and publicly available financial information can tell you a lot about someone and where they truly stand. Sometimes it makes sense to take things a step further and call up a contact who knows the person or the company you will be negotiating with. (Keep in mind that this strategy may need to be limited if the deal itself is confidential).

Going in with a win-win attitude, knowing that everything is negotiable, remembering that you have something that they want, and being empowered with ample background knowledge can help you walk into your next negotiation feeling more confident and prepared.

Happy negotiating!

Thanks for reading the Bevel Law Blog! While this information is hopefully helpful to you, nothing in this blog is intended to be legal advice. Always consult a lawyer before making any legal decisions based on topics in this blog.

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