From the time we first tried to wheedle a later bedtime from our folks, we’ve all been negotiating in one way or another.
Salon, spa and medspa owners and managers do a lot of negotiating — with employees, customers, vendors, landlords, family members, other businesses — well, you get the picture.
Life may not be a cabaret, but it certainly can feel like one negotiation after another. While not every negotiation is about closing a big deal, similar techniques apply, whether an employee wants an extra day off or you’re working on a multi-year lease.
Keep these tips in mind to ensure you’re getting the most out of your negotiations:
- Everybody wants something. That’s what gives each of us leverage in a negotiation. Knowing not just what you want, but what the other person wants, helps both parties reach a mutual understanding. Clarify goals; don’t make assumptions.
- Try to understand the other person’s mindset. It’s sometimes not enough just to know that Mary wants Saturday off. It’s often important to understand the “why” behind the “what.” There’s often more to the situation than what’s visible. Ask questions to uncover what might be going on behind a request. Walk a mile (or at least around the block) in the other person’s shoes. Two people may want the same outcome but have different motivations. You’ll be a better negotiator if you take the extra time to understand why someone wants what he or she does.
- Think win-win. Negotiation implies a winner and a loser. When you reframe that to “give a little, get a little,” you might get exactly what you need to get, while the other person (not your “opponent”) also gets what he or she needs. Try to leave all parties feeling good, even when certain aspects of a negotiation don’t go their way. Help the other person see why you’re making the decisions you are. Make it a positive experience all around. Watch your body language and tone of voice.
- Know what’s most important to you. Because it’s no longer about winning and losing, you can give in on things that don’t matter so much to you. Perhaps you need someone to work late, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be Kate. Or maybe you can change a promotional deal so that it works better for a customer. It’s not about always being “right.”
- Don’t be stubborn for the sake of being stubborn. Sometimes we just dig in our heels and forget to listen to what’s being said. It’s not a sign of weakness to change your mind if a well-reasoned argument is made, or if you decide something simply isn’t that crucial. Knowing when to bend is the sign of an experienced leader. Of course, it’s all right to stand your ground, too. Just remember, though, ceding on a small point will often get you the majority of what you want.
Negotiation is a big part of the life of any business owner or manager. Keep in mind mutual goals and stay positive. That will go a long way toward negotiations that are upbeat and helpful, and that will get the results you need.