How to Effectively Negotiate the Life You Want

Photo courtesy of Monkey Wing

Although I am not a professionally trained or paid negotiator, almost every aspect of my life involves negotiating in one form or another.  From my children to my husband and from high profile clients to the girl who cleans my house, every day I must put my negotiating skills to the test in order for my life to continue flowing optimally. Those closest to me say I have some sort of “Make it Happen Magic”, but honestly, I think most of it is just common sense.

Most of you are very likely faced with the same challenges of managing various outcomes in your day-to-day lives and, without even realizing it, you are spending a lot of time negotiating with the people that you deal with most frequently. If you often have feelings of being out of control or that things in your life just aren’t going the way you would like, take a look at your negotiating skills. They probably need some work.

There are several characteristics that make someone into a successful negotiator. As I began thinking about the situations in which my friends and family tell me to “Make the magic happen,” I pinpointed several very effective things that I do to get what I want out of the situation at hand.

When faced with a situation where negotiation is inevitable, it is important that you come to the table prepared and informed.  The more information you have, the more power you will have to negotiate effectively.  A smart and well-informed negotiator usually wins. Know what you want out of the situation, the personality of the person you will be dealing with, his or her position, and all of the possible outcomes.  Approach the deal with a win-win negotiation strategy.  If the other person also benefits from the end result – you both get what you want.

Ensure that the person you are dealing with can sense that you are very much in control of yourself. Exude confidence, and act like the end result has already been achieved, with the only thing left to do being tying up loose ends.  This works well with the win-win strategy, as you are less likely to face any resistance.

Get people to respect you because they like you and your ideas have merit.  Avoid threats, show respect for people, actively listen to any opposing arguments or positions, and don’t think in terms of ‘winners’ or ‘losers’.

Remove your personality from negotiations as much as possible.  Think of a negotiation as a business deal, and put on your professional hat, even if you are negotiating with a family member.  Take emotion out of the equation and be reasonable and willing to come to a compromise, however, do not accept sub-par solutions or offers!  Remember, you have the power to walk away from any situation in your life. If you ultimately cannot negotiate terms that meet your needs, put your Walk Away power into action. This gives people the clear message that you are a serious negotiator and that you are too smart to fool.

Effective negotiating really boils down to getting what you want out of life in a positive but firm manner.  You do not have to steamroll or take advantage of anyone in order to live the life you want.  Keep yourself out from under the steamroller by standing firm or walking quickly away from it if it seems to be headed in your direction.


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    • Glenn

      Great article – thanks for this Adrienne!  I particularly like your point about it not being a zero-sum game – someone does not need to lose for you to win.  In fact, it is nearly always to the benefit of both parties that you both feel satisfied with the outcome.  And keeping this fact in mind increases your chance of success – as you will be looking for that win-win.

      • Adrienne McGuire

        I think looking for the win-win is a skill that a lot of people don’t develop until they have a certain level of self-love and self-assurance. Once you become sure of yourself, you gain the ability to want others to gain, too.

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