Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, is apparently a good negotiator. Whether or not you are a fan of the Trump family you must respect his, and apparently his progeny’s, ability to effectively negotiate. The Trump tip that “trumps” them all is: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Here is her list of ten tips on the Art of Negotiation with the explanation notes of Kelly Coughlin, an experienced negotiator, on why these tips are important:
1. Set your goals in advance. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. You need to know beforehand what you want or you will be letting your opposing party define your outcome. And they will define it. If they haven’t set their goals, then you both are wandering aimlessly and most likely wasting each other’s time. Keep in mind, your goal might be to only understand what your opponent’s goals are.
2. Go for the Win. The best deal ends in the proverbial win-win for both sides. The other perspective on that is the best deal is one in which neither side is happy. These deals are not sustainable. And one or both parties will most likely be seeking to find some non-performance breach to escape the agreement later on.
3. Know your opponent’s objectives. Correctly identifying your opponent’s objectives is a top priority. It might even take the first meeting to do that (see #1, above)
4. Preparation is invaluable. Ben Franklin said it better than me or Ivanka. “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail. The more you know, the stronger your position. You don’t need all the facts committed to memory. But certainly have your top five facts…I can them money facts, written down, committed to memory and sourced in the event your opponent challenges you on them.
5. Be bold. Ask for that which you want. Ask for that which you don’t want only if it has value to your opponent and you intend to use it as a negotiating chip to give up.
6. Do not negotiate via email. Face to face first; video conference second; telephone call third; written email or letter fourth. If you are the stronger negotiator, you give up your competitive edge by not meeting or speaking with your opponent. Your home court is preferred.
7. Listen more than you speak. Zeno of Citium, a Stoic Greek philosopher said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” Strong negotiators like to listen waiting for their opponent to disclose too much, give up too much, or simply explain the logic of their position. This type of excessive talking will only harm their position.
8. Check yourself. Firm handshake. Look at the color of their eyes. Sit upright. Don’t be too eager. And certainly don’t be meek or intimidated. Fill your lungs completely with air and breath and speak from your chest not your throat.
9. Be prepared to walk away. I love the take away. Not in a threatening way, rather with a subtle statement. I like the competitor take away, “Maybe we just aren’t a good fit. It might be best if I move on to another partner where our interests are better aligned.” I also like social takeaway, “I’m just not getting a good feel for how we might work together. I like doing business with people that I mix well with. Maybe our pheromones are clashing here.” Or the timing takeaway, “Let’s take some time to think about things and then revisit.” Giving both parties time to think about what happens if the deal stalls permanently can help get them focused on a win-win outcome and a greater interest in listening to the other side. That applies to you and your opponent.
10. Practice when the stakes are low. My grandfather, Frank O’Neil used to try to get the men’s clothing store salesmen to throw in a second pair of pants with his suit. Apparently, they used to do that in the early 1900s. But by 1950 that custom was gone. But not for Frank. Much to the chagrin of my grandmother, he would continue to ask for it. Every year I negotiate with my cable and cell phone companies on better pricing or terms of service. Practice negotiation when the stakes are low. Practice the negotiating tactic of “pegging” by contacting your phone or cable company and say, “I need to get my bill down to, for example, $100/month. It is currently around $150/month. I need you to figure it out. Your competitor [insert name] says they can do that. What can you do?” Pricing and service terms for many of your smaller vendors present a great opportunity to practice your negotiating skills.