Successful Negotiation for Business Owners

Are you sitting comfortably? Welcome to my series of podcasts that will help you to navigate the issues that you’ll inevitably come up against as a business owner. Today I want to talk about how to negotiate.  

Do you consider yourself to be a good negotiator? Negotiating skills are essential in business, whether you’re negotiating contract terms with a supplier or you’re using them to resolve issues with a difficult employee.  

It’s often too easy to let emotion or ego take over when you should always have your eye on the reason why you’re negotiating-the success of your business.  

Let’s look at business negotiations first.  

When you begin negotiations with another business, focus on what is going to achieve the best outcome for all concerned, and don’t allow things to get personal. By this, I mean don’t take it too personally if a supplier or client of yours criticises you, one of your employees, or the way you do things. This is about business.  

It pays to remember that negotiation is not all about you. A negotiation should be about what satisfies both parties, and it won’t serve you well if you go into a meeting with only your interests in mind. Be respectful of the other party, and try to see where they’re coming from, or you risk putting them off or offending them, which is less likely to end well.  

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fight your corner if you have clear concerns. It’s best to be straightforward and say to the other party “I’m worried about X, Y, and Z” and see if you can both agree on a way to alleviate your concerns.  

Negotiating isn’t always about what we say. Non-verbal communication speaks volumes, and if your body language is closed or it looks like you’re disinterested or hostile, you might be giving the wrong impression. Instead, try having a relaxed, open posture and make good eye contact throughout.  

So, moving onto negotiating with an employee. This can be difficult depending on what the issue is, but here’s where you get to use your leadership skills. Many of the skills and traits a good leader has can also be useful in negotiation.  

For example, treating people fairly. If an employee knows that you’re fair and honest, they’ll have more respect for you, and they’re more likely to trust you, which bodes well for a successful negotiation.  

A good leader will want to find a solution that everyone is happy with, not just one that serves their interests. If you enter into negotiations with an employee and you make it clear that you want to meet them halfway, it’s much more likely to go smoothly, and they won’t be on the defensive.  

But finding a solution that everyone is happy with is not the same as making an emotional decision that might affect the business. For example, if an employee is having personal problems and requests a flexible working arrangement which you know will have a detrimental effect on the business, don’t say yes because you feel bad or guilty. Instead, look at the situation logically and without emotion. Then you might be able to explain to the employee that they can’t have the exact degree of flexibility that they asked for, but that you are willing to compromise and find a solution that works for them and for the business.  

Remember those words: what works for the business. 

It’s important to keep your business vision and goals in mind whenever you’re negotiating. A good leader will always look at the big picture and share their vision to get people on board.  

Looking at the bigger picture also sometimes means keeping long term goals in mind. Say you have a great employee who you envisage will help you get where you want your business to go, but you repeatedly deny their requests to negotiate changes in their contract terms or job role. They might just say they’ve had enough and look for an opportunity at a rival company who might accommodate their requests. Your business will have lost someone valuable who could have helped you reach your goals in the medium to long-term, just because you took the short-term view.  

Finally some extra tips on negotiation: 

Always be prepared. Know the facts before you go into a negotiation and you’ll feel much more confident.  

Don’t react or make decisions based on emotion. 

Don’t intimidate the other party or allow yourself to be intimidated. 

Remember you might not always reach a mutual agreement, but always pursue what is best for your business.  

Happy negotiating! 

Do you need help with business or employee issues? 

I help company Directors just like you to feel confident in their team and content with the way their business and their team runs every day. My goal is to create a less frazzled life for you by offering you and your team mentoring and workshops tailored completely to your needs.  

Contact me at  to find out how I can help you. 

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