It's the time of the year when we evaluate what we have achieved and work out how we can accomplish new goals in the 12 months ahead.
You might be building up the confidence to go for a promotion and a pay rise, a new job or a big business deal. For any of these objectives, however, you’ll need to negotiate well if you are to have any chance of walking away satisfied.
You will already know the basics of negotiation: doing your research and understanding the value and strengths on both sides of the table. But through my experience selling businesses and, more recently, connecting larger companies with startups that can help them introduce new ideas through corporate accelerator programmes, I’ve noticed the best negotiators always do five things that most people don’t.
You’ll have heard some colleagues say that you should leave emotion out of business. I disagree. Of course you need to be in control, but you should show how you’re feeling as well – and respond effectively to the emotions of others.
For example, if you’re disappointed by their first offer, make them aware of that. Or while talking about how proud you are of your recent accomplishments, exhibit those feelings.
You should never be disingenuous, but you should always try to build a narrative when negotiating. Demonstrate how you feel – and enjoy the experience. Like a performance, you should be conscious of your body language – and that of those across from you – and appreciate the power of silence at key moments.
Take your time
It goes without saying that you should never appear rushed or anxious when negotiating. I can’t overemphasise the importance of patience in this process.
Go the extra mile. If you can, get to know the person or people you’re negotiating with as well as possible. Who are they? What do they want to achieve?
In an ideal situation, you’ll have the chance to do some of the groundwork informally beforehand. The people sat across from you should never be complete strangers. Like any relationship, it can only be successful if some degree of trust has been established and everyone is willing to make compromises.
Know what you want
This might seem obvious, but good negotiators do not restrict themselves to a small number of outcomes that they will be happy with. You must be open-minded about what you are willing to accept and think about every possible eventuality before you start.
For instance, if you don’t secure the pay rise you were hoping for, you could take the opportunity to ask to work on an exciting new project or request funding for a course that will boost your long-term career prospects. Remember that it’s not all about you – it’s vital that you know what you can do for them as well.
Wherever possible, don’t treat it like a stiff, formal negotiation, where you focus on selling hard to get what you want. To be successful, you need to find common ground and show that you are moving in a direction where both sides will achieve what they set out to.